Self-confidence is a significant quality that may spell either success or failure in an individual. There are numerous steps in developing self-confidence. The first is to act as if you are already confident of yourself.
The second is the acceptance of the responsibility that comes with both life and action. There is also a need to have faith in one’s self. Reasonable risks can be taken to boost confidence. Distancing one’s self from negative influence and maintaining upbeat company can also boost confidence.
Although some people are lucky in being naturally confident, confidence is not a subtle, equivocal trait. It is an attitude which anyone can study, cultivate and employ. Here are seven key steps for developing dynamic self-confidence.
#1) Begin with the ‘As-If’ principle.
Basically, this principle says that to accomplish the quality you want, start acting ‘as if’ you already had it. If you want to be more courageous, act as if you had massive courage. Similarly, if you want to have more confidence, begin acting as if you were a enormously confident person.
One who used the ‘as-if’ principle habitually was Lincoln Kirstein, the legendary director and founder of the New York City Ballet. He credits a former teacher with introducing him to the concept:
“He gave me a method which can be lightly called ‘as if.’ You behave ‘as if’ something were true. Then you make it happen. We thought of a ballet school, a company, Lincoln Center, long before they happened. By behaving as if it would happen, we wasted no time.”
#2) Accept Responsibility.
A vital building block for developing dynamic self-confidence is the skill to accept responsibility for your life and actions. Business consultants note the strong link between a sense of responsibility and the confidence which creates success.
Gerald Kushel, EdD, president of The Institute for Effective Thinking says: “Over the years, I have observed thousands of managers – and find that the most important quality shared by all peak performers is a sense of responsibility that drives them to excel, regardless of external forces.
By contrast, when bad managers fail to achieve their maximum capabilities, they transfer the blame elsewhere a difficult boss . . . an unsupportive spouse . . . uncooperative workers, etc.”
Kushel cites the example of Harry Truman who entered politics after his men’s clothing store failed. He could easily have walked away from his bankrupt business. Instead he took responsibility and repaid every dollar he owed. That same characteristic appeared when Truman was a US Senator.
He made it his responsibility to learn all about complex legislation pending before his committee. To do that, he arrived at the office early every morning – so early that he became the first senator ever issued his own key to the Senate office building.
#3) Don’t let what you speak make you weak.
For all their effort and good intentions some people undermine self-confidence by how they speak about themselves and their dreams. The road to dynamic self-confidence is hastened when you cultivate a positive faith in yourself.
According to psychologist Robert Anthony, PhD, that means eliminating “killer phrases” and replacing them with “creative phrases.” He recommends making a simple but effective language transition from negative statements to positive ones.
Instead of saying to yourself “I have to”, switch to “I want to.” Eliminate the words “I can’t”, and tell yourself “I can.” Drop the word “difficult” and use “challenging.” Mentally move from seeing a “problem” to viewing an “opportunity.” And, instead of saying “Eventually I should”, make a firm commitment by saying “Right now I will.”
#4) Take the dare.
Rather than give in to your fears, take reasonable risks. Accept a challenge even though it may be frightening and come without much help from others. Doing so provides you with an priceless opportunity of rising to the occasion, meeting the challenge directly and triumphing over it.
Taking a dare in life is always a confidence booster. Mary Lou Forbes was one of the first women to win a Pulitzer Prize in journalism for her coverage of the 1950s civil rights movement. During that time Forbes nearly missed out on an important promotion because her boss feared men in the newsroom would not take orders from a woman.
In spite of his hesitation, Forbes saw an opportunity and went to work convincing him to give her a chance. “I told him the men would listen to me because they knew I was a good reporter,” she explains. “Still his unwillingness has stayed with me to this day.
It has been a key to whatever success has come my way. When people categorize you according to preconceived notions, take it as a dare. Tell yourself you can do anything they can do, and you can do it better.”
#5) Reject negative advice.
Have a good look at the people around you. Are they positive, supportive and encouraging of you? Or, are they mainly negative thinkers – people who wear down your self-confidence by questioning your ability, experience and aspirations?
If you feel that your friends, co-workers and even family members are overly critical and negative, consider distancing yourself from such emotionally destructive acquaintances. “Avoid naysayers and negative types,” is the blunt advice given by Rush Limbaugh, host of The Rush Limbaugh Show, the nation’s highest-rated national radio talk show.
“Itâ€™s easy to find people to talk you out of something. I floundered in radio for 12 years, and all that time everybody told me I should get out of it and that radio wasn’t a fair business – because they had failed at it.”
Eventually, his negative friends reduced his confidence and so discouraged Limbaugh that he left the radio industry in 1979. He spent five miserable years in a sales job for which he was unsuited.
“Finally in 1983, I returned to radio -my real love and began my show locally in Kansas City, Missouri. If I had followed the naysayers’ advice, I’d still be stuck in that sales job still unchallenged, frustrated and feeling empty.”
#6) Follow the positive voices.
As you get rid of the negative influences around be open to every positive influence in your life. Confidence is contagious. When you are surrounded by positive, upbeat, confident individuals, your personality tends to accept those same traits for itself.
That is why minister and author Robert Schuller advises people do everything they can to ensure their environment is flooded with affirming people and positive experiences.
“Seek out friends, acquaintances, literature, books, television programs and movies that will entertain, amuse, inspire, uplift, educate, motivate and challenge you to become a better and more productive person,” he writes in his book Tough Minded Faith For Tender Hearted People.
#7) Make anxiety your ally.
Seeking out a promotion, asking your boss for a raise, giving a speech are just some of life’s moments which create a crisis of confidence while raising levels of anxiety. The key is to keep in mind that anxiety is actually an ally.
Within the feelings of anxiety are also the very tools needed to shape and defeat it: increased energy, heightened awareness, sharpened intellect, surging senses. Rather than throw away that nervous energy in worry, utilize it to meet the challenge successfully and determinedly.
In his book, The Quick and Easy Way to Effective Speaking, Dale Carnegie says the anxiety most people feel about public speaking is useful. “It is nature’s way of preparing us to meet strange challenges in our environment.
So, when you observe your pulse beating faster and your respiration speeding up, don’t become alarmed. Your body, ever alert to external stimuli, is getting ready to go into action.
If these physiological preparations are held within limits, you will be capable of thinking faster, talking more fluently and generally speaking with greater intensity than under normal circumstances.”
Finally, remind yourself that many other women and men have successfully made the transition from self-doubt to self-confidence. It is not necessary to live in a hesitant, timid, fearful way.
Crippling anxiety and the fear of failure are stumbling blocks which can be overcome. It is possible to do away with an inferiority complex and reinvent yourself. Simply dedicate yourself to the process, keep moving forward one day at a time and be patient with yourself.