Lead with Confidence
This is a subject that is talked about, but I always feel never gets the full attention it deserves. The subject of confidence is treated like an “add-on” to other traits you must have or steps you need to take. I deeply feel like we as a society are ignoring the significance of confidence.
When faced with a new challenge, the higher your internal confidence level the more successful you’ll be.
Try to remember when you were a child. There were times when you felt nervous, anxious, or scared at the idea of trying something new and unknown. Your parents or friends were probably there to encourage you to climb that tree or learn to ride a bike for the first time. It was scary no doubt, but you were able to muster up the confidence and fling yourself full forward into a new experience and you became a better person for it. I remember when I jumped off the high dive for the first time. Just looking at this thin board suspended in the air terrified me to my core. My dad encouraged me to climb to the top, walk to the end of the board and leap into the deep-end. I can still remember how nervous I was.
I’d love to say that with my father’s encouragement and my deep desire for adventure helped me muster up the confidence to tackle the high dive, but that didn’t happen. I put my hands on the rungs of the ladder and started climbing. It was a slow climb. One by one I climbed higher and higher. Before I knew it I was peering over the top of the board… I froze! I couldn’t climb onto the platform. My hands were sweaty, my mouth was dry, and my stomach was doing somersaults. My dad yelled from down below, “The hard parts over. Now all you need to do is follow through.”
I just couldn't. My little 10 year old body was shaking from head to toe and all I wanted was to be back on the ground. I climbed back down and went home with my head hung low. I laugh about the experience now, but I wasn't a happy camper then.
How many times has something like this happened while we are adults? Maybe it happened when we had the opportunity to take on a new project, but because of our lack of confidence we turned it down. Or maybe you were asked to speak to a group of people, but because your lack of experience, decided that you just weren’t up to it.
I have friends that refuse to apply for the jobs they really want, in the industries they want to be in, because they lack the confidence to overcome their fears of not being good enough. “Why try if I can’t do it.”, is a sad reality.
It’s not that we aren’t capable of accomplishing these things. As a species we’ve climbed Mt. Everest, created entire industries by only imaging them, and built skyscrapers that are over 2000 feet high!
And I couldn’t jump off the high dive? You’ve got to be kidding me. Everything the human race has accomplished was done by people who are no smarter than you or me. They had the drive, imagination, and the confidence to accomplish fantastic things.
Without confidence in yourself to overcome any challenge and excel in any subject you have decided to focus on, how can you ever hope to grow and really push the boundaries of what you’re capable of?
I want to help you change all that. The subject of confidence warrants its own book, but I’ll cover the three things that have really helped me create and grow the confidence I’ve needed to tackle some big goals in my life. - Having no previous writing experience or training, my confidence is part of the reason why I’m able to write this article.
Changing your body language is the simplest fix, but one of the harder ones to remember to maintain throughout your day. I’m talking about every day. 365 days a year. Many people in our modern society fall prey to their own confidence limiting body language.
I want you to play along with me for a moment. Take a look at how your sitting. Are your shoulders back, or are you hunched over? Are your arms and legs crossed or is your body spread out?
When we make ourselves small; hunched back, crossed arms, lowered head, we have put ourselves in a mentally compromising situation. When positioned this way you will naturally start to feel less confident and even docile. Yikes!
If you’re reading this post sitting this way, change it! Uncross your legs, put your shoulders back, and spread your limbs out. I mean spread them out. Take up as much space as humanly possible. Now hold this position. Even after just a few minutes you’ll start to feel more confident. You are now presenting to the world your most confident self and your body language is your loudspeaker.
Wasn’t that easy? You can make major leaps forward in your level of confidence just by changing your body positioning. Now, how do you remember to always to do it? How can you get yourself to always be conscious of it?
What’s helped me tremendously is to imagine a jungle. In that jungle I am staring at a huge 800 pound silverback gorilla sitting up against a rock with one of his massive arms extended out resting on the rock and the other holding a huge shoot of vegetation. Just staring at me. Sizing me up. Then I just ask myself, “Am I mirroring his body language or am I projecting weaker version of myself?”
You can use whatever imagery you like, but start being conscious of your body language and how it’s affecting your confidence.
The next step is in building your confident beliefs. This takes a little bit of soul searching, but is a very rewarding process. You’ll need a pen and paper for this brainstorming session. I want you to look back in your past and start to pick out all the times you proudly overcame an obstacle or achieved something that was meaningful to you. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it means something to you. It could be a time when you aced a test, earned a trophy in little league, of even when you finished reading your very first book as an adult.
For me, I always look back on a few specific moments in my life. When I rose to the challenge of my son being born when I was at the ripe old age of 19, achieving my goal of working in the finance industry, and after being out of school for year and a half I was told that I wouldn’t graduate on time because I was low on credits. Embarrassingly low. I got creative, hunkered down, and found every possible loophole to start earning extra credits. When the dust settled I proudly walked across that stage, on time, with my head held high. I even won the Student Leadership Award. How’s that for a turnaround!
I look back on these experiences and realize that I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t have any mentors or took a specialized training class before trying to accomplish these things. One day I wrote them down as goals and then went to work to bring them to life. I believed that I could obtain any goal as long as I worked towards it. This belief helped me get through quite a few rough spots and continues to give me the confidence to tackle new and challenging projects.
Armed with your list of achievements I want you to write down why this was a big accomplishment and what you did to get it done. Read it. How does it make you feel?
I read mine weekly to remind myself that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to. My past success gives me the confidence to keep moving forward.
Think about it, the reason Coca-Cola advertises to you on a regular basis is to remind you how “great” their soda is. If they didn’t, you would naturally stop buying Coke because the brand would lose its luster.
Start thinking of yourself in the same way. Life can get hard. Make it a point to remind yourself how great of a person you are.
Just stop. Procrastination leads to low confidence levels. The longer you wait to do something that causes you anxiety, the harder it becomes. If you’re afraid of doing something, utilize your confidence and dive right in.
Volunteer for that big project, start a business, or start planning your dream vacation.
The next time you find yourself procrastinating, think back to our gorilla in the jungle. Change your body language. Read your list of Confident Beliefs and remind yourself of how phenomenal you truly are.
You can have whatever you want in life.
Decide what those things are and start asking yourself, what can I do today, tomorrow, and next week to accomplish them?
Write it down and then do it. Everyday do a little more to bring yourself closer to your goals. You’ll be amazed when you see what happens next.
Today is going to be a good day. I have a feeling...