Seven steps to Self-confidence

What is the one quality that can make or break your rise to your highest potential? What helps you face the world and its challenges without fear? What is the quality that makes people want to trust you and rely on you? Yes, it is self-confidence.

Self-confidence becomes a key differentiator and an incredible advantage in any pursuit. Hence, it is imperative that each one of us acquires it. No one is born with innate confidence. People who are confident, have worked on it and developed it over time. And each of us can develop self-confidence irrespective of where we are in life right now. It requires time and effort, but it can be done. And I speak from personal experience when I say this. I was extremely timid as a kid and it took me 4 failed attempts at Elocution competitions, before I built enough confidence for public speaking. It was extremely embarrassing to forget lines on the stage or freeze in front of the audience. However, with consistent effort, I managed to gain confidence. Fast forward to my corporate life. I was quite good at my work and was confident about my field. However, when asked to take on leadership roles with global reach, I would often hesitate and experience self-doubt. During one such instance, my manager said something that left a great influence over me. He said that the only way I could succeed and grow was by taking on challenges without worrying about failure. That one statement changed my perspective. I eventually won over my fear, ended up doing a great job and went on to build and lead large businesses with global teams. With my experience as a backdrop, here are a few tips to help you acquire self-confidence.

Know yourself: When was the last time you indulged in self-introspection? It is extremely critical for you to understand your strengths, weaknesses, fears and aspirations. Once you figure out your strengths, find opportunities to play to your strengths. If interpersonal skills are your forte, find avenues to engage with people. Simultaneously, work on your weaknesses in a structured fashion. You don’t need to become perfect at everything, but work on your weaknesses enough so that they don’t hamper your progress. And finally, identify your passions and aspirations, because they will keep you going when things get tough. Knowing yourself is the first step towards self-confidence.

Ged rid of fear: More often than not, what holds us back from achievement is fear. Fear usually stems from uncertainty about the outcome and manifests itself in the form of worry or anxiety. In order to gain confidence, we need to get rid of fear. Most pursuits have risk of failure, but true victory is in attempting something despite the risk. When fear stops you, ask yourself this question — ‘what is the worst that could happen’? When you analyse the response, you would realize that most pursuits are worth the risk. Every time you overcome fear and take a step forward, it builds confidence. Every time you face failure head-on and rise up, it builds confidence.

Prepare and practise: The first thing you notice about confident people is that their confidence stems from being great at their field. Case in point are famous sportspersons. The best way to gain confidence is by preparing and practising so that you gain expertise in your field. As with everything else in life, practice makes one perfect. And when you’re perfect at your game, self-confidence comes easily. Identify the areas where you need to become proficient. Then invest time in preparing yourself. Once the basic preparation is in place, keep practising till you gain confidence.

I once worked with a senior leader who was an amazing orator. He enthralled the audience on every occasion, so much so that I believed he was a natural. Imagine my surprise when I found him pacing the office one evening, practising his speech for the next day. This goes to prove that even the experts need practice and that builds their confidence.

Act confident: We all pretend at various points in life. We pretend to be happy, sad, excited or amused, to get through certain situations. So, why not pretend to be confident? It makes a world of difference. Imagine how you would like to be seen or perceived and act like that. Such positive thinking and behaviour will make you feel confident over time. In order to act confident, look at every challenge as an opportunity, as a task. Then break down the task into smaller segments and address each one independently. As you cross out every item on the list, your confidence will increase. And when you act confident and see positive reactions from people around you, it reinforces the behaviour.

Posture and dress: Recent scientific research suggests that posture and body language not only affect how others perceive us, but also influence our own mood. Power postures and body language such as standing or sitting up straight, holding your head high, smiling and a firm handshake can all induce confidence. Also, the way you dress can influence your mood and attitude. Depending on the occasion or audience, make time to dress well and you will feel the impact on your mood and confidence. So, the next time you have an important meeting, presentation or event to attend, work on your posture and appearance and it will give your confidence a boost.

Celebrate your success: Whenever you win or achieve something, ensure you do two things. Feel grateful for the achievement and celebrate your success. This tends to lock the memory, infuses positivity and builds self-esteem. When you feel unsure or insecure, remind yourself of your achievements. Think about how far you’ve come, the obstacles you overcame and the fears you’ve conquered. Such thinking brings about self-realization and highlights your strengths and capabilities. Knowing that you’ve faced tough situations in the past and won, gives you the boost of confidence you need to face your current situation.

Create a support network: All of us could do with our own cheering squads. A trusted network of friends and family who believe in you and wish you well. Such a support network can be a great source of strength. You can rely on the network for advice or as a sounding board. In fact, at times it helps when someone even chastises you for being insecure or overtly cautious. Invest time in building such a network with whom you can be candid about your aspirations and fears. The sense of belonging that such a network creates is invaluable. And that goes to build self-confidence.

These seven aspects could be part of your self-confidence toolkit. It is important to note that self-confidence is not a destination, but a journey. We need to keep working on it as we transition through various phases in life, as we encounter new situations. Self-confidence can be your greatest ally on the journey of life. Let me leave you with an inspiring thought:

Confidence comes not from always being right, but from not fearing to be wrong” — Peter. T.McIntyre

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A management consultant turned entrepreneur; Voracious reader, avid traveler and a strong advocate for diversity and women in leadership.

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Uma Kasoji

Uma Kasoji

A management consultant turned entrepreneur; Voracious reader, avid traveler and a strong advocate for diversity and women in leadership.

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