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.
Self-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.
Two main things contribute to self-confidence: self-efficacy and self-esteem. We gain a sense of self-efficacy when we see ourselves (and others similar to ourselves) mastering skills and achieving goals that matter in those skill areas. This is the confidence that, if we learn and work hard in a particular area, we’ll succeed; and it’s this type of confidence that leads people to accept difficult challenges, and persist in the face of setbacks.
This overlaps with the idea of self-esteem, which is a more general sense that we can cope with what’s going on in our lives, and that we have a right to be happy. Partly, this comes from a feeling that the people around us approve of us, which we may or may not be able to control. However, it also comes from the sense that we are behaving virtuously, that we’re competent at what we do, and that we can compete successfully when we put our minds to it.
Some people believe that self-confidence can be built with affirmations and positive thinking. At Mind Tools, we believe that there’s some truth in this, but that it’s just as important to build self-confidence by setting and achieving goals – thereby building competence. Without this underlying competence, you don’t have self-confidence: you have shallow over-confidence, with all of the issues, upset and failure that this brings.
Self-confidence is about balance. At one extreme, we have people with low self-confidence. At the other end, we have people who may be over-confident.
If you are under-confident, you’ll avoid taking risks and stretching yourself; and you might not try at all. And if you’re over-confident, you may take on too much risk, stretch yourself beyond your capabilities, and crash badly. You may also find that you’re so optimistic that you don’t try hard enough to truly succeed.
Getting this right is a matter of having the right amount of confidence, founded in reality and on your true ability. With the right amount of self-confidence, you will take informed risks, stretch yourself (but not beyond your abilities) and try hard.
The good news is that self-confidence really can be learned and built on. And, whether you’re working on your own self-confidence or building the confidence of people around you, it’s well-worth the effort! The bad news is that there’s no quick fix, or 5-minute solution. You may have to work consistently in this direction.
How confident do you seem to others?
Your level of self-confidence can show in many ways: your behavior, your body language, how you speak, what you say, and so on. If you are self confident, you would be doing what you believe to be right, even if others mock or criticize you for it, you would be willing to take risks and go the extra mile to achieve better things and admitting your mistakes, and learning from them. You might be waiting for others to congratulate you on your accomplishments and accepting compliments graciously. “Thanks, I really worked hard on that prospectus. I’m pleased you recognize my efforts.”
If your level of self confidence is satisfactory, you may be governing your behavior based on what other people think and staying in your comfort zone, fearing failure and so avoid taking risks. You can be working hard to cover up mistakes and hoping that you can fix the problem before anyone notices. You may extol your own virtues as often as possible to as many people as possible. You may even dismiss compliments offhandedly. “Oh that prospectus was nothing really, anyone could have done it.”
As you can see from these examples, the absence of self-confidence can be self-destructive, and it often manifests itself as negativity. Self-confident people are generally more positive – they believe in themselves and their abilities, and they also believe in living life to the full.
So how do you build this sense of balanced self-confidence, founded on a firm appreciation of reality? Building self-confidence is readily achievable, just as long as you have the focus and determination to carry things through. And what’s even better is that the things you’ll do to build self-confidence will also build success – after all, your confidence will come from real, solid achievement. No-one can take this away from you!
So here are three steps to self-confidence, for which you may use the metaphor of a journey: preparing for your journey; setting out; and accelerating towards success.
Step 1: Preparing for Your Journey
The first step involves getting yourself ready for your journey to self-confidence. You need to take stock of where you are, think about where you want to go, get yourself in the right mindset for your journey, and commit yourself to starting it and staying with it.
In preparing for your journey, you may do these five things:
Look at what you’ve already achieved:
Think about your life so far, and list the ten best things you’ve achieved in an “Achievement Log.” 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.
Put these into a smartly formatted document, which you can look at often. And then spend a few minutes each week enjoying the success you’ve already had!
Think about your strengths:
Here, you may look at who and where you are. Looking at your Achievement Log, and reflecting on your recent life, think about what your friends would consider to be your strengths and weaknesses. From these, think about the opportunitie
s and threats you face. Make sure that you enjoy a few minutes reflecting on your strengths!
Think about what’s important to you, and where you want to go:
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 self-confidence comes from this. Goal setting is the process you use to set yourself targets, and measure your successful hitting of those targets.
Set goals that exploit your strengths, minimize your weaknesses, realize your opportunities, and control the threats you face. And having set the major goals in your life, identify the first step in each. Make sure it’s a very small step.
Start managing your mind:
At this stage, you need to start managing your mind. Learn to pick up and defeat the negative self-talks which can destroy your confidence. It is commonly observed at large, among many of us in our communities, that we quarrel and squabble over petty or non apparent reasons. We are good in attending weddings and festivals, but we show hostile attitudes to each other in community affairs. We do not listen to each other with the intention to understand for a better perspective. We make haste conclusion and poor judgment of each other without having adequate knowledge and information. We choose to argue, fight and scold each other instead of having a peaceful dialogue on issues of common concerns. Political arguments and spiritual debates have become the battlefields for character assassination. Consequently, we end up in a serious and hostile conflicts and that is what is currently happening in our communities and social welfare institutions. The major sources of these problems are poor judgment, lack of tolerance, ill behavior, and lack of respect among us. We must adopt rational thinking.
And then commit yourself to success!
The final part of preparing for the journey is to make a clear and unequivocal promise to yourself that you are absolutely committed to your journey, and that you will do all in your power to achieve it. If as you’re doing it, you find doubts starting to surface, write them down and challenge them calmly and rationally. If they dissolve under scrutiny, that’s great. However if they are based on genuine risks, make sure you set additional goals to manage these appropriately.
We may discuss the next step in our next post. In the meanwhile, start your efforts to build up your self confidence, for your success and for your happiness.
Be Happy – Win Your Battle with Confidence.