In my book, It! Happens: A Practical Guide to Finding Your ‘It’, I provide guidance on taking steps to tap into your inner potential, confidence is a component. I go into greater explanation of confidence in my, soon to release book, Thinking 101: Fundamentals of a Successful Mindset. Confidence, you see is a mindset. Confidence helps you tap into the greatness within you. You first must put aside some confidence-killing thought patterns and replace them with productive, confidence-boosting thoughts through the following activities.
1-Identify what confidence looks like to you. Confidence comes in all shapes and sizes. There is not one body type, IQ, or type of person that serves as the “poster child” for confidence. We all have the potential to be confident, so to see what confident looks like, just look to yourself. Look in the mirror. What do you see? Do you see a confident person, beaming back at you? If not, why? Chances are that if you said NO, you likely made a mental list of what you lack, whether consciously or not. Your mirror conversation (in your head) might go something like this,
“I don’t look confident. Confident people are thinner. John at work, looks confident. He’s always on his ‘A game’. I wish I were more like John.”
At this point, you need to ask yourself. What is it that makes John appear confident? What is it you think John has that you do not? What does confidence look like? If it doesn’t appear to look like what you are looking at, then let’s see if we can change what you are seeing.
Begin by making a list of things that you think confidence is. For example, you might think that a confident person is firm in his or her opinion, is not affected by what others believe of him or herself, or can win over a crowd with ease and is charismatic. Whatever you believe confidence is, write it down. Now look at what you wrote. If you don’t believe that person is the person mirror, why not? Chances are, you just came up with a list of negative thoughts about yourself as you stacked yourself up against others.
2-Shifting our Focus. Why is it that we have trouble focusing on our positive qualities? You have none, you say? Or you have fewer than most? When we stack ourselves up against others and form thoughts in our mind of how we are inferior, we shatter our confidence. This is a mindset-by choice. You are choosing to focus on what you don’t have, or what you perceive you do not have, and this is becoming your reality- lack of confidence. Proverbs states, “As a man thinketh, so is his heart.”
How can we expect to be confident if we choose to focus on what we are not? We must shift our focus. We do this by sitting down and making a list of our positive qualities and attributes. For example, you might be a great listener or have great analytical skills that have developed as a result of your lack of speaking confidence. You have honed logical thought, analysis and listening as a result of not talking. This is a GREAT skill! List it! Perhaps you graduated top of your class or maybe just graduating high school was a major feat. List it. Maybe you live in poverty or a dysfunctional family and are determined that this will not be a part of your future. List determination!
When helping people resume build and coaching them for interview success, I often tell them that if they need to think back to when they were in kindergarten to think of skills, do it. Were you the first to line up after recess? Sounds like you liked being punctual or were eager to learn new things. Are those qualities you possess today? Often, certain personality traits, characteristics, and qualities follow us through life. Really put some thought into your positive qualities. It may seem silly to go back to grade school, but this can actually help you to begin seeing trends within yourself and help you tap into some great thoughts of who you are. If you really can’t think of anything positive about yourself, make a list of how you want to be. Shifting our focus begins with moving away from what we are not, and looking at what we are or can be.
3-Blowing Up Negative-Rebuilding Positive. Confidence is a mindset. It is a choice to focus on the greatness within you. You have greatness within. Everyone does. Some just choose not to exercise it. From your list of what you believe confidence is and who you are, you can develop a confidence action plan. Let's say that you believe that confidence is charismatic, firm in opinion, well educated, or rich. The first thing we must do is blow up your pre-conceived notions of what confidence is.
For just a moment, close your eyes and visualize the demolition of an old structure with a huge explosion. I’m sure we’ve all seen enough action flicks that you can easily imagine an astronomical explosion in your mind. This explosion will serve as a mental destruction of all the negative structures or thoughts that inhibit your positive new thoughts. Every time you think of what or where you lack, imagine the explosion. Once the old structure has been leveled, you have room to rebuild a new and improved structure. Your confidence!
Now, for your GREATNESS list. You already have a list of things that you are or that you want to be. Let’s work from this list. Be proud of the qualities that you have and who you are. Confidence is an attitude which makes your reality. Just like being grumpy makes you less attractive, having an attitude of pride in yourself, makes you attractive. Others will translate your attitude into confidence. If you couldn’t find any positive qualities for your list and you made up a “what I’d like to be” list, let’s start working on that.
Your desire is such a strong emotion that it can transform your attitude at a shocking rate. And guess, what, your desire can be turned into a positive quality. Put on your list: I am visionary. And then smile. Motivational speaker, Les Brown says, “You have GREATNESS within.” You do. You can choose to stack yourself up against others and see inferiority, or you can choose to focus on what you already have and the potential of how much better you can become. When we shift our focus and blow up confidence killers, we can be proud to embrace the GREATNESS within and exude confidence! So you see, you ARE one of “those people”; you just weren’t showing everyone. Show it off!
Jolene Church is currently working on a PhD in Organizational Leadership and is driven to help people unleash their inner potential. Jolene is an author and motivational speaker and is a member of the National Speakers Association and Toastmasters International.