One of the most significant personal attributes of the high achiever is confidence.  One of the most significant personal attributes of the average guy is doubt.

I’m confident that high achievers feel doubt.  But, I also know that they follow their instincts and thoroughly think through their decisions, and once a decision has been made the doubt disappears.  And, usually they are right to do so as their instincts and their abilities to make decisions are so often right.

Confidence oozes from the high achiever.  Sometimes it crosses the line into arrogance, but more often it is just perceived as arrogance by the average person because they don’t get how someone can be so sure of themselves.

For the average person though instincts often lead us astray and too many times my decisions have been flat out wrong.  That makes the doubt creep in quicker and linger longer each time I’m faced with a new situation.  High achievers have very little time or patience to deal with someone stuck in a mud hole of doubt, which further erodes the confidence of the average.

Over the last couple months I’ve had some significant set backs in my work.  They didn’t knock out my confidence, but my confidence did need a standing eight count.  Since then I’ve been pretty frozen in my performance; no real failures, but not much success and not much progress.

What I’d love is for someone to come along side and walk me through this.  The recommendation of so many of those books written by high achievers is to find a mentor.  But, the average person, if they can find someone to mentor them at all, usually finds an average mentor.  That can be beneficial if the mentor has some solid experience, but often it becomes a complaining session or fellowship about the trivial.

So, how do you generate confidence when things have gone badly?  Here are some thoughts:

1. Stop comparing yourself to others.  I’ll probably never be the highest achiever in my workplace.  Does that mean I’m not successful at all?  No.  This isn’t a car race where second place is the loser.  Learn to compete against yourself so that you are always improving.

2.  Set confidence goals.  Keep them small and very achievable at first and make sure you pursue them seriously.  For some it may be the goal to talk to one new person a day for a week.  For another it may to to talk to his or her boss or spouse about a problem you’ve been having.  Or, it might be to conquer a project that has been nagging at you and causing stress.  As your confidence builds set bigger goals.

3.  Look to past successes.  Remind yourself that you’ve been successful in the past, no matter how small the success.  Find it and focus on it to let yourself know that the fear and doubt you have now are temporary.

4. Recognize and admit to your insecurity.  Voice it to yourself.  “I am worried that if I don’t impress my boss on this project I will be fired.” Or, “I am afraid to talk to that person because they will think I am boring.”

5. Take time to prepare.  Whenever I speak in public I am most confident when I have thoroughly prepared.  If I try to wing it, forget it.  I’m a wreck.  So for that sales call, make sure you know about the person and company you are calling and make sure you thoroughly know your product.  For small talk in a room full of strangers make sure you have a list of questions in your mind that you can ask others about themselves.

6. Ask for honest feedback.  If your lack of confidence comes from a lack of ability make sure you know it.  Ask your supervisor or someone you trust for truthful feedback about your abilities and personality.  It may help if you ask them to write it down so they don’t have to say negative things to your face.  And, approach the feedback as a positive and not a negative.  You might say, “I’m trying to get better in this area.  Can you tell me some things you think I could work on?”  Instead of “I know how bad I am at this.  What should I do?”

7. Admit your mistakes and correct them if you can, but don’t dwell on them.  Nothing is more boring than someone who is constantly berating themselves for mistake or poor performance.

8. Exhibit true humility.  Often those of us who are insecure will expect great praises when things go well, and if we don’t get them we’ll be resentful.  Instead, accept praise graciously, but seek to perform well for your own sake and not to impress others.  And, no false humility either.  A simple thank you is enough.




One Response to “Confidence”

  1. Fear v Confidence « I’m Just A Guy Says:

    […] a special or exceptional life is scary, especially for the average guy.  I’ve written about confidence before as one of the things that distinguishes the high achiever from the average guy.  But […]

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