By Susan Murphy
Are you holding yourself back because of low confidence? Do you spend a lot of time “in your head” worrying, regretting, putting yourself down, and wishing things were different? Do you stop yourself from taking advantage of opportunities and reaching the success of which you know you are capable? Without confidence, you will never venture out of your comfort zone.
When you have a healthy level of confidence, you can be your best you. Confidence is a belief in your ability to succeed – a belief that stimulates action. Self-esteem refers to your opinion of yourself, how well you value yourself, and the power you allow yourself to have. Everything you think and say and do affects your confidence and self-esteem. The good news is that you have control over what you think, say and do.
Some of my favorite tips for increasing confidence include:
Start taking action.
The Nike SWOOSH invites action with the slogan, “Just Do It!” It doesn’t need to be perfect. Just Do It! When you take action, you achieve successes that build more confidence, which encourages you to achieve even more successes! When I was working on my Ph.D., Dr. Pat Heim told me that the “D” stands for “Done.” I decided to get it “Done” and developed a mantra of “Focus & Finish.” Don’t let being perfect get in the way of being good.
Own your success.
Women need to take a page from the men’s playbook and own their success. When men accomplish great things, they are usually able to take credit for it without hesitating. When women accomplish great things, they often say they got “lucky” or “it wasn’t very difficult to begin with.” Men often recognize the benefits of confidence and start to practice it early on. In fact, many men value confidence as much as competence.
Monitor your self-talk.
We are born with only two fears: fear of falling and fear of loud noises. All other fears are developed during our lifetime. Let’s get rid of those manufactured fears! The great actor John Wayne once said, “Courage is being afraid but saddling up anyway.” Another favorite quote is from Wayne Gretzky, the great Canadian ice hockey player, “You miss every shot you don’t take.” Unfortunately, most of your self-talk (77%) is negative. When you hear yourself using negative self-talk, consider saying, “Thanks for your input, but I’m not interested!” Another suggestion is to wear a rubber band on your wrist and snap it when your self-talk turns negative.
Stay away from “Hoover People” (named for the vacuum).
Hoover people vacuum positivity, confidence and self-esteem out of everyone they contact. If you have a Hoover person among your closest friends, move her out of your group. Keep only positive, supportive people on your Personal Board of Directors. Remember Eleanor Roosevelt’s words, “No one can make you feel inferior without your permission.”
Go ahead and fake it!
Use your body language to increase your confidence and self-esteem. Harvard professor Amy Cuddy’s research shows the power of your body language on others – and on YOU! All it takes is 2 minutes to change your thoughts by moving your body. When you stand or sit confidently, you have an open stance, shoulders back, chin up, and good eye contact with your audience. If you do this for 2 minutes, you will become more confident. Smiling for 2 minutes makes you happier, even holding a pen sideways in your teeth can make you happier, more confident. People who feign confidence and self-esteem begin feeling better about themselves with this simple strategy.
Find your sense of humor.
Laughing is like internal jogging, increasing your confidence and self-esteem. Some days you’re the bug; other days you’re the windshield. Some days you’re the statue; other days you’re the pigeon. Laughing increases endorphins, which are 200 times more powerful than morphine.
Develop your attitude of gratitude.
When you realize how much people have done for you or how much you have accomplished, you feel more confident. It is not happy people who are grateful; it’s grateful people who are happy.
Leaders at NASA and Facebook realize that confidence is the key to success. Even high performers like rocket scientists need a boost sometimes, so their leaders consciously instill confidence and encouragement into the corporate culture. The slogan at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab is “Dare Mighty Things”. Posters at Facebook headquarters read, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”
Today is your time. Just Do It!
Dr. Susan Murphy is a best-selling author, coach and speaker who specializes in relationships, conflict, leadership and goal-achievement. Dr. Murphy co-authored In the Company of Women.