The Ultimate Guide to Confidence : Preparing Yourself for Success!

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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.

The good news is that self-confidence really can be learned and built on. And, whether you’re working on your own confidence or building the confidence of people around you, it’s well-worth the effort!

What Is Self-Confidence?

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.

Lack of Confidence

First of fall we need to understand the reason for lack of confidence. Lack of confidence is due to a fear of one kind or another (mostly unfounded). As an American wrote, “my life was full of misfortunes which never happened”.

Of course, one need not be reckless. Yet, harboring fear never helps. We need to think rationally and pen down what makes us afraid and why. This process helps remove some of the fear and begins the path of building confidence.

A famous Management Guru one said that there are four ‘C’s which form the foundation of an individual’s growth and a Company’s progress. These four virtues are – Curiosity, Confidence, Courage and Consistency. The most important of these happen to be Confidence. If absence of confidence the other virtues will simply disappear.
It is said that “they conquer who believe they can”. Self-belief is thus the second important factor in building up confidence. Confidence emerging out of self-belief is necessary for any significant achievement. New opportunities always carry some incidence of chance. For taking any initiative you must be prepared to take calculated risk. In fact not taking any risk is the biggest risk of life.

Further, Confidence enables you to trust yourself. And if you don’t trust yourself, nobody else will. No one will feel secure in placing any responsibility on you. That will be the dead end. There is no further growth.

Lost Opportunities

Often we do not see opportunities because we are not interested. On the face of it, lack of desire acts as a strong handicap in our progress and growth. But, Confidence trains our mind to desire what the situation demands. It makes us alert enough to recognize and seize emerging opportunities. With desire created by confidence we look ahead, strive hard and succeed.

Confidence breeds courage

For taking risk of any kind one needs to have courage. If we have confidence; we will be able to rise up to the demands of the situation. So we must go ahead and take calculated risk. Courage enables us to move ahead! Yet, if there is no confidence it will be very difficult to harness courage.

Smile

Most people lack self-confidence. You can help them! Smile. Your smile will reassure them. You will be doing a great job helping them to gain confidence. This is particularly true when somebody is meeting a new group of people. We must also remember that the more we are helping others to gain confidence, the more we enhance our own self-confidence! We help ourselves too!!!

Your confidence depends on how you have been influenced by people around you till now. Be it your parents, your teachers, your friends and others you have been meeting. Some of the influences have created positive impact. ‘Yes, you can do it and you must try’. This motivates you to act even if there is some risk. ‘No, you can’t do it’, ‘it is not for you’ ‘what will others say when you fail’- these are some of the negative thoughts, instilled by people around you, or due to your own brooding. These hold you back.

Faith, Fear and Action are three most important ingredients of your self-confidence. Today, everyone realizes the importance of self-confidence. Your career, your relations with others, your progress in life or even your reputation- all depend on your self- confidence. Your ability to overcome fears and your determination to take action even in adverse circumstances give it a boost. Anyone who wants to grow in life must develop ability to take some risk. Of course, you must not be a dare-devil. No need to deliberately expose yourself to great risk just to show off. Nor is there a need to take risk without thinking about the results. But some calculated risk of taking action to move forward in life is necessary.

Life is not a straight line. Like the waves in the sea, it moves up and down. There is low tide and there is high tide. There could be storms like we have in the ocean. You have to accept the challenge and move forward. Your determined action further enhances your faith and allays your fears. Consider that your body is a ship. And your mind is the captain of your ship. Just as the captain of the ship has to take decisions and take action all the time- 24×7, you must do that too. This will generate the required self-confidence. And, you will start viewing the life differently. It will no longer be a burden that tires you. It will be an interesting journey that will keep you in good cheer.

Some other suggestions to build your confidence and conquer your fears are:

  1. Belief in yourself
  2. Associate with confidence people
  3. Keep motivating yourself by dwelling on positive thoughts
  4. Be the master of your ship of life.
  5. Never remain idle.

Ways to Improve Confidence

There are two sides to improving confidence. Although the ultimate aim is to feel more confident in yourself and your abilities it is also worth considering how you can appear more confident to other people. The following list has lots of ideas on how to achieve this.

Planning and Preparation

People often feel less confident about new or potentially difficult situations. Perhaps the most important factor in developing confidence is planning and preparing for the unknown.

If you are applying for a new job, for example, it would be a good idea to prepare for the interview. Plan what you would want to say and think about some of the questions that you may be asked.  Practice your answers with friends or colleagues and gain their feedback.

There are many other examples of planning for an interview. Perhaps you should visit the hairdresser before you go. How are you going to travel to the interview and how long will the journey take? What should you wear? Take control of unknown situations the best you can, break down tasks into smaller sub-tasks and plan as many as you can.

In some situations it may be necessary to also have contingency plans – backup plans if your main plan fails. If you had planned to travel to your interview by car but on the morning the car wouldn’t start how would you get there? Being able to react calmly to the unexpected is a sign of confidence.

Learning, Knowledge and Training

Knowing what to expect and how and why things are done will add to your awareness and usually make you feel more prepared and ultimately more confident.

However, learning and gaining knowledge can sometimes make us feel less confident about our abilities to perform roles and tasks, and when this happens we need to combine our knowledge with experience. By doing something we have learned a lot about we put theory to practice which develops confidence and adds to the learning and comprehension.

First-time parents to-be may well feel nervous and less than confident about having a baby. They are likely to buy books or visit websites which can offer advice and dispel some of the mysteries. They are also likely to talk to other parents to gain knowledge and understanding.

In the workplace, training may be provided for staff to teach them how to manage or work with new systems and procedures. During a period of organizational change this is particularly important as many people will naturally resist changes. However if those affected by the changes are given adequate information and training then such resistances can usually be minimized as the staff feel more prepared and therefore more confident with the new system.

Positive Thought

Positive thought can be a very powerful way of improving confidence.

If you believe that you can achieve something then you are likely to work hard to make sure you do if, however, you don’t believe that you can accomplish a task then you are more likely to approach it half-heartedly and therefore be more likely to fail. The trick is convincing yourself that you can do something – with the right help, support, preparedness and knowledge.a BA degree in the US.

There is a lot of information about positive thinking both online and in print. The basic rules of positive thinking are to highlight your strengths and successes and learn from your weaknesses and mistakes. This is a lot easier than it sounds, and we often dwell on things that we are not happy with from our past – making them into bigger issues than they need to be. These negative thoughts can be very damaging to confidence and your ability to achieve goals.

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 as, 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? Recognize 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, and 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 so you can use criticism as a way to learn and improve. See our page: Dealing with Criticism for more information.

Try to stay generally cheerful and have a positive outlook on life. Only complain or criticize when necessary and, when you do, do so in a constructive way. Offer others compliments and congratulate them on their successes. You may find our page Offering Constructive Criticism helpful.

Find yourself a confidence role-model.

Ideally this will be someone that you see regularly, a work colleague, a family member or a friend – somebody with a lot of self-confidence who you’d like to mirror. Observe them and notice how they behave when they are being confident. How do they move, how do they speak, what do they say and when? How do they behave when faced with a problem or mistake? How do they interact with other people and how do others react to them?

If possible talk to them to learn more about how they think and what makes them tick.

Speaking to and being around people who are confident will usually help you to feel more confident. Learn from others who are successful in fulfilling the tasks and goals that you wish to achieve – let their confidence rub off on you.

As you become more confident then offer help and advice, become a role-model for somebody less confident.ince Lombardi – Successful American Football coach.

Generally people are attracted to confident people – confidence is one of the main characteristics of charisma. See our page: What is Charisma? for a full explanation.

Experience

As we successfully complete tasks and goals, our confidence that we can complete the same and similar tasks again increases.

A simple example of this is driving a car. Most people who have been driving for some time do so almost automatically – they don’t have to think about which peddle to push or how to handle a junction in the road, they just do it. This contrasts to a learner driver who will probably feel nervous and have to concentrate hard. The learner lacks experience and therefore confidence in their ability to drive.

Gaining experience and taking the first step can, however, be very difficult. Often the thought of starting something new is worse than actually doing it. This is where preparation, learning and thinking positively can help.

Break roles and tasks down into small achievable goals. Make each one of your goals fit SMART criteria. That is to make goals Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timed. Our page Setting Personal Goals explains this in more detail.

Whatever you do, aim to become as good as you can. The better you are at doing something the more confident you become.

Be Assertive

Being assertive means standing up for what you believe in and sticking to your principles.

Being assertive also means that you can change your mind if you believe it is the right thing to do, not because you are under pressure from somebody else.

Assertiveness, confidence and self-esteem are all very closely linked – usually people become naturally more assertive as they develop their confidence.

See our Assertiveness section and Assertiveness Techniques page for more information.

Keep Calm

There is usually a correlation between confidence and calmness.

If you feel confident about a task then you will likely feel calm about doing it. When you feel less confident you are more likely to be stressed or nervous.

Trying to remain calm, even when you’re under stress and pressure, will tend to make you feel more confident.

To do this it is useful to learn how to relax. Learn at least one relaxation technique that works for you and that you can use if you’re feeling stressed. This may be as simple as taking some deliberate deep breaths both in and out. For more ideas see our page, Relaxation Techniques.

Avoid Arrogance

Arrogance is detrimental to interpersonal relationships.

As your confidence grows and you become successful, avoid feeling or acting superior to others. Remember – nobody is perfect and there is always more that you can learn. Celebrate your strengths and successes, and recognize your weaknesses and failures. Give others credit for their work – use compliments and praise sincerely. Be courteous and polite, show an interest in what others are doing, ask questions and get involved.

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