Cultivate Confidence

What is confidence?

It’s the ability to believe in yourself — no matter the odds, struggle, or adversity. Confidence is one of the biggest determining factors in whether you will be successful in your career. If you don’t believe in yourself, how do you expect anyone else to believe in you?

Confidence is not a tangible item we can put in our pocket and carry with us everywhere; it’s something that lives inside us and becomes a part of us. While there are plenty of books and videos that talk about how to be confident, at the end of the day it comes down to you.

When you think of the best version of yourself, what do you see? Self-esteem refers to the opinion you have of yourself, how you value yourself, and the power you think you have. Everything you say and do affects your self-esteem and confidence.

Confidence is key

A healthy amount of confidence is necessary for success in all aspects of your life — not just work. Being confident allows you to engage in healthy relationships, take chances, achieve new goals, and grow. Confidence is a key quality in any leader. Experience and knowledge alone just isn’t enough.

Making a change

The good news is that if your confidence level is not where you’d like it to be now, you can change that! Confidence is a skill, and how do you get better at anything? You practice. Many of us practice but not many of us persist. Too often, people bail at the first bit of failure or difficulty.

Confidence is like a muscle. the more you use it, the stronger it gets.

Self talk

We all have a self talk tape that plays in our heads. Whether it’s how you think you look in your new outfit our how you feel about your newest project, it’s always there. Negative self talk is a waste of time. There are enough people out there who tell us we can’t something, that we aren’t good enough, etc. Why do we want to do that to ourselves, too?

We will all experience moments in our lives and careers where we are not feeling proud of what and where we are. Positive self talk can help us weather any storm.

Many successful people utilize self-affirmations to give them a confidence boost when they need it. For example, Muhammad Ali’s was “I am the greatest!” Lance Armstrong’s was “Livestrong” and he would move his bracelet from one arm to next when doubt crept in.

Understanding yourself

Each and every one of us has a different personality type. Some people are particularly judgmental and critical, especially towards themselves. Their first reaction in any situation is to question and criticize their own thoughts and actions. A certain amount of self reflection is a good thing, but when people are overly self critical it can undermine their confidence and be a barrier to success.

There are several factors that impact confidence such as your genes, how you’re treated, social pressures of your environment, etc. But the personal choices we make also play a major role in developing confidence. Although you don’t have the power to control the circumstances around you, you have full control over how you choose to respond to what life throws at you.

Lacking confidence

There are many things that can contribute to a lack of confidence, especially at work. You might feel like you lack experience, question your ability to succeed with your projects, have poor relationships with your co-workers, or you just might be too hard on yourself in general.

Low confidence can hold you back from new opportunities and prevent you from reaching your full potential. People who lack confidence spend a lot of time worrying, regretting, and overthinking while confident people spend their time doing and thriving.

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable

In the end, the feeling of regret stings more than embarrassment and fear.

We build confidence by facing our fears and taking progressive steps towards our goals. Expose yourself repeatedly to uncomfortable situations that scare or intimidate you. Step outside of your comfort zone, even if you do it in small increments. Tell yourself you’re capable, and you will indulge yourself in behaviors that will enable you to be. It won’t be easy at first, but confidence is created through repetition until you feel comfortable.

Take everything with a grain of salt

People interpret feedback the way they choose to. People who lack confidence are constantly worrying about what others think of them. Placing too much value on what others think or say is a recipe for self destruction.

Everyone has an opinion, but the one that matters most is your own. You own the power to change your life, so don’t give it away to anyone else. Don’t let other people determine what you are or aren’t capable of, because that is only up to you. Criticism is necessary for growth and everyone experiences it, so don’t take it personally.

Take everything personally and you will be offended for the rest of your life.

Become empowered by your setbacks

Failure is normal and once you realize that you’ll have a better chance at success. JK Rowling was rejected by 12 different publishers before getting a “yes.” Failures can act as stepping stones. For example, it took Thomas Edison 1,000 tries before he developed a successful prototype for the light bulb.

How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” a reporter asked.

“I didn’t fail 1,000 times.. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.” Edison responded.

Everyone fails — that’s just how we learn. Confident people don’t have time to wallow in self-pity when they have a setback or a failure because they’re too busy learning from and fixing their problem. Those who fail yet remain confident and keep trying and are better equipped to respond to setbacks in constructive ways. It’s been proven that failure leads to richer mental models than experiencing constant success.

Believe in your ability to improve

Do you believe your abilities and talents are fixed at birth, or do you think you can develop and grow them over time? These thoughts are important because they shape how to act when you're faced with setbacks. If you have a fixed mindset, you are much more likely to give up. When you have a positive mindset and think you can improve, you see challenges as an opportunity for growth.

Be specific with your vision/goals

Break large goals down into small stepping stones so you don’t seem overwhelmed. Clear goals allow us to take clear action towards them. Set S.M.A.R.T. goals for yourself. This way, you’ll know what you need to do, when you need to do it, and it can become a part of your routine.

Fake it till you make it

You’ve probably heard this before — because it works. Even if you’re not feeling that confident, pretend like you are and eventually you won’t be faking it anymore. Think of someone who exudes confidence in your eyes and ask yourself, “what would they do?”

All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure — Mark Twain

Free yourself of self doubt, fear, and negative thoughts. Take challenges and realize they won’t be easy. Accept that you will make mistakes and be kind to yourself. Being confident takes time and effort, but it’s worth it.

In all aspects of life, confidence is key.

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