A professor stood before his class of 30 senior molecular biology students. Before passing out the final exam he said, “I have been privileged to be your instructor this semester and I know how hard you have worked to prepare for this test. I also know most of you are off to medical school or graduate school next Fall. I am well aware of how much pressure you are under to keep your grade point averages up. Because I am confident that you know this material, I am prepared to offer an automatic B to anyone who opts to skip taking the final exam.”
The relief was audible. A number of students jumped up from their desks, thanking the professor for the break he was giving them.
The instructor then handed out the final exam, which consisted of two sentences. It read: “Congratulations, you have just received an A in this class. Keep believing in yourself.” It was a just reward for the students who had worked hard and believed in themselves. They had a strong sense of self-confidence.
And emotionally intelligent confidence, by the way, is one of the most important factors in determining how far you’ll go in life, work, and relationships … and how much happiness you’ll have along the way.
Unfortunately, most people have a confidence that is more like a roller coaster than a steady foundation. Their confidence goes up and down.
But you CAN learn how to have an unshakeable confidence that never lets you down. Here are a few tips for starters.
► 1. Review the things you did well … every day.
Instead of dwelling on what didn’t work or the tasks you didn’t finish, focus on what you did accomplish. Don’t minimize these.
And when someone compliments you on something you did well, make sure you accept the compliment by saying thanks. Don’t respond with comments that trash the compliment and the other person. Don’t say such things as “Oh, it was no big deal … Anybody could’ve done it … It was really nothing … or … Don’t mention it” garbage.
► 2. Take control of fear.
In the absence of confidence, fear and worry take control. Your progress is held in check and your momentum grinds to a halt.
And to make things worse, everything you want is on the other side of fear. So what can you do? Don’t believe everything you think.
I’ll never forget the time I didn’t do that. Even though I had won two “Outstanding Faculty Awards” from two different universities and even though I had a successful speaking and consulting business on the side, I let fear get the better of me when I was hired by one of the world’s biggest and most famous organizations to conduct a two-day seminar. I began thinking to myself, “I’m only in my late 20’s. Sure, I’ve got a Ph.D. and a great track record, but what do I have to tell senior managers and executives? After all, they’re in their 50’s and make ten times the amount of money I make.”
I got into a self-defeating thought cycle that was probably evident when I began the two-day program. They saw fear instead of confidence. Within an hour of the program starting, the person in charge of the meeting said, “You’re no good. Your program won’t help us. And besides, I could do a better job of teaching the class than you.” He relegated me to a seat in the back of the room where I sat silently and watched him teach the next two days. I was thoroughly humiliated.
I learned two things. First, take control of my fear. Refuse to let fear take over and wipe away my confidence.
Second, don’t believe everything you think. I was believing bad thoughts about myself before I spoke, when I started the program, when I sat in the back of the room, and when I re-lived that embarrassing situation for the next two weeks. And I shouldn’t have believed those thoughts in the first place.
About three weeks after the program, another senior person from the same company called me in for an interview … to discuss the possibility of conducting several programs for them. I immediately told him about my failure with another group in his company so he had all the facts before we went any further in our discussion. His response? “Oh, you’re talking about Bill’s meeting. Don’t worry about him and what happened. He’s a real JERK!”
The truth is I probably could have done a better job on the seminar that was taken away from me. But the bigger truth was I sabotaged my confidence and best efforts by thinking the wrong thoughts and letting fear take control.
Perhaps you’ve been guilty of doing the same thing or needing a confidence that sticks with you all the time.
► 3. Push yourself to accomplish short-term goals.
There’s no greater way to build confidence than getting things done. So every day do something that moves you closer to finishing a project, closing a sale, or building a relationship. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted or interrupted.
Break your big goals into smaller short-term goals. It feels great and builds confidence as you see each smaller goal get accomplished.
In fact, I’d even suggest you print this next statement out and put it on the wall in front of you so you read it several times a day: THE ROAD TO CONFIDENCE IS PAVED WITH DAILY STEPS AND WEEKLY VICTORIES.
Perhaps the best news of all … you don’t have to take forever to build and maintain your self-confidence … if you simply use the right tools. Amber Lynch, a manager at the Complete Property Management Group learned that. She said, “I used to struggle with self-confidence. But your affirmation exercises at your program, made an INSTANT and positive difference in my self-esteem and I continue to use this confidence in my professional career and personal life.”
Put one or more of these techniques into practice and you will also see an INSTANT and positive difference in your confidence level and outcomes.