It’s not easy to gain confidence, especially when you start out in anything new. Remember what it was like when you first tried to ride a bike. If you were like me it took many attempts to finally be able to master that two-wheeled monster. And I had the bumps and scrapes and bruises as my badges of honor. But once you get the hang of riding a bike then you never have a problem with that activity ever again. At least until your knees give out!!
Gaining confidence is kind of like that too. You are often tentative at the beginning, maybe even a little nervous. But once those wheels start rolling underneath you then you know you are on your way to not just confidence but success. To get you started on the road to gaining confidence here are five steps to success.
Fake it Til You Make It
Nobody starts out in life with confidence in their back pocket. We all have to earn it or learn it. But until you do you can start acting as if you know what you are doing. Not in a dangerous, sloppy or disrespectful way, but just by smiling instead of frowning or talking positively, even if it’s inside your head to can gain confidence for yourself and maybe even impress others. It’s calling faking it until to make it and if you watch people like Donald Trump you can see it in action.
The ‘Donald’ acts as if he knows everything, and many people believe that he does, until of course he opens his mouth. That’s the other secret to faking it, it is always better to say little or nothing about things that you know little or nothing about. You can look like you know what you are doing and people might believe you. But if you try explaining what you are doing, you are likely going to be in big trouble, very quickly.
Watch, Listen and Learn
We got to school for a reason; to learn practices and processes to solve problems. We have to listen and learn at work for the same reason. This is particularly true if we want to know how to gain confidence about a particular function or activity. Find someone who really knows how to do something and watch how they do it. Ask them questions and wait for their answers. Then ask if you can learn from them by being their apprentice or if they will coach or mentor you.
Even if they cannot actively participate in your growth you have just made an ally in helping to build your confidence. You are starting to build a support system that everyone who already has confidence usually has to help them when times or things get tough. And if all you do is just watch, listen and learn your own confidence will grow because you will have real knowledge to support it.
Look the Part
There was a men’s clothing store in my home town with the slogan… ‘Clothes Make the Man….And We Make the Clothes.’ Looking good will not automatically make you confident but it will help. Studies have shown that sharply dressed men and women are more respected in the workplace and you have to admit that when you see someone who is put together fashion-wise, one of your first thoughts is that they must be successful. Personal hygiene is also important because let’s face it, who hasn’t thought less of someone who looks unclean or disheveled at work.
Women in particular have told me that they feel much more confident when they wear a smart suit or have their hair done in a particular fashion. Looking good may be all about what we look like on the outside but it has more impact on what we feel inside than we sometimes think. Being confident is an inside job and it does help if we look and feel better on the outside.
Don’t Be Afraid
Of all the things that hold us back from being confident, our fears and insecurities often top the list. Fear is a great way to keep people in line but it is actually a very poor motivator. And the thing about almost all of our fears is that they are imagined and not real. That doesn’t mean that they can’t be a barrier to confidence or success and or many people they hold them back from fulfilling their true potential at work and in life.
To overcome fear and work towards confidence we have to first of all convince ourselves that the fears are not real. We can do this through positive self-talk (I think I can… I think I can), or by talking to someone we trust about our fears. Secondly, we have to find a way to walk through our fears. If it is a fear of public speaking we can take a course or join Toastmasters. Finally, we have to visually our success in order to make it worthwhile to overcome our fears. If we can do all three of these things we can be confidently on our way.
Build on Success
Nothing builds confidence like success and the most confident people always try and make every activity a success, or at least take some small success out of every endeavor. After a while these small successes start adding up, like a pitcher who starts striking out a few batters and then finds himself with a near perfect game. His confidence grows with every strikeout until he believes that he can actually make that perfect game happen. He may not get there but he will have great success along the way.
Most importantly, that pitcher, and you too, will grow more confident in your abilities as you have even the smallest of successes. And even if you stumble you will have the confidence to get back up on the mound and try again. Success breeds more success and a little bit of confidence will grow and multiply just as quickly.
Mike Martin is a writer and the author of Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People.
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