From the quietly confident doctor whose advice we rely on, to the charismatic confidence of an inspiring speaker, self-confident people have qualities that everyone admires. Self-confidence is extremely important in almost every aspect of our lives, yet so many people struggle to find it. Sadly, this can be a vicious circle: people who lack self-confidence can find it difficult to become successful. After all, most people are reluctant to back a project that’s being pitched by someone who was nervous, fumbling, and overly apologetic.
On the other hand, you might be persuaded by someone who speaks clearly, who holds his or her head high, who answers questions assuredly, and who readily admits when he or she does not know something. Confident people inspire confidence in others: their audience, their peers, their bosses, their customers, and their friends. And gaining the confidence of others is one of the key ways in which a self-confident person finds success. Your level of self-confidence can show in many ways: your behavior, your body language, how you speak, what you say, and so on.
Confidence is not something that can be learned like a set of rules; confidence is a state of mind. Positive thinking, practice, training, knowledge and talking to other people are all useful ways to help improve or boost your confidence levels. Confidence comes from feelings of well-being, acceptance of your body and mind (self-esteem) and belief in your own ability, skills and experience.
Low-confidence can be a result of many factors including: fear of the unknown, criticism, being unhappy with personal appearance (self-esteem), feeling unprepared, poor time-management, lack of knowledge and previous failures. Confidence is not a static measure, our confidence to perform roles and tasks can increase and decrease; some days we may feel more confident than others.
One way of gaining confidence is to think about your life so far, and list the ten best things you’ve achieved. Perhaps you came top in an important test or exam, played a key role in an important team, produced the best sales figures in a period, did something that made a key difference in someone else’s life, or delivered a project that meant a lot for your business.
What is very useful is a technique like SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, Threat) Analysis to take a look at who and where you are. Looking at your achievements, and reflecting on your recent life, think about what your friends would consider to be your strengths and weaknesses. From these, think about the opportunities and threats you face.
Next, think about the things that are really important to you, and what you want to achieve with your life. Setting and achieving goals is a key part of this, and real confidence comes from this. Set goals that exploit your strengths, minimize your weaknesses, realize your opportunities, and control the threats you face. The mind always plays games, so you need to start managing your mind. Learn to pick up and defeat the negative self-talk which can destroy your confidence.
Looking at your goals, identify the skills you’ll need to achieve them. And then look at how you can acquire these skills confidently and well. Don’t just accept a sketchy, just-good-enough solution – look for a solution, a program or a course that fully equips you to achieve what you want to achieve and, ideally, gives you a certificate or qualification you can be proud of.
We cannot change the people around us, but we can try to change ourselves. Just like we cannot change the direction of the wind, but we can adjust our sails.
Try to recondition the way you think about your life:
• Know your strengths and weaknesses. Write a list of things that you are good at and things that you know need improvement. Discuss your list with friends and family, inevitably they will be able to add to the list. Celebrate and develop your strengths and find ways to improve or manage your weaknesses.
• We all make mistakes. Don’t think of your mistakes as negatives but rather as learning opportunities.
• Accept compliments and compliment yourself. When you receive a compliment from somebody else, thank them and ask for more details; what exactly did they like? Recognise your own achievements and celebrate them by rewarding yourself and telling friends and family about them.
• Use criticism as a learning experience. Everybody sees the world differently, from their own perspective, what works for one person may not work for another. Criticism is just the opinion of somebody else. Be assertive when receiving criticism, don’t reply in a defensive way or let criticism lower your self-esteem. Listen to the criticism and make sure that you understand what is being said, use criticism as a way to learn and improve.
• Try to stay generally cheerful and have a positive outlook on life. Only complain or criticise when necessary and when you do, do so in a constructive way. Offer others compliments and congratulate them on their successes.
To end with the wise words of Helen Keller-
Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.
Wishing you a very Happy New Year with abundance of confidence and accomplishments.