Even the greatest leaders lack self-confidence at certain times. Self-confidence is not a static quality; rather, it’s a mindset that takes effort to maintain when the going gets rough. It must be learned, practiced and mastered just like any other skill. But once you master it, you will be changed for the better.
Here are six effective ways to promote your own self-confidence.
1. Act the part.
Your body language can instantly demonstrate self-assuredness, or it can scream insecurity. Present yourself in a way that says you are ready to master or take command of any situation. If you look confident and act the part you aspire to reach, you’ll not only feel in control, people will have much more confidence in you as well.
Hold your head high, sit up straight, gently bring your shoulders back to align your spine and look directly at the other person when interacting. Avoid a limp handshake and maintain good eye contact while someone is speaking to you.
2. Dress the part.
When you look better, you feel better. If you choose clothing and accessories that fit you well, suit your industry and lifestyle, and make you feel good, this will automatically increase your self-esteem. Look like the part you want to play, or in other words, suit up for success. Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine in your accessories. Bold jewelry or a colorful tie can be a focal point and a good conversation starter.
3. Speak assertively.
The next time you listen to your favorite speaker, be mindful of the way he or she delivers a speech. A great speaker speaks confidently, in a steady, rhythmic tone. Instead of the “ums” and “ahs” that interrupt flow, they use pauses to emphasize ideas.
Adopt an assertive, but not aggressive, way of speaking that indicates your self-confidence. You will feel your self-esteem begin to rise. To be taken seriously, avoid high-pitched, nervous chatter or twittering giggles in your speech. People will listen to you more attentively when they see the leader radiate from within you.
4. Think and act positively.
Positive energy leads to positive outcomes, so set your mind to the can-do side of any situation, avoiding the negative self-talk that can make you feel less confident. Smile, laugh and surround yourself with happy, positive people. You’ll feel better and the people with whom you work will enjoy your company.
Keep a gratitude journal to remind yourself of the high points of your day and your accomplishments. You will develop more peace and confidence when you are in a grateful state of mind.
5. Take action.
There’s more to being confident than just how you look. You must act the part. Walk up to a stranger at a networking event, or accept a project you’d normally reject. Practice being self-confident and soon it will become second nature.
Inaction breeds doubt and fear, while action breeds confidence and courage. As an exercise, jot down your strengths and weaknesses. Most people will tell you to work on your weaknesses, but use what you've got and capitalize on your strengths instead. Once you put more energy into your positive traits, your confidence will start to shine through.
6. Be prepared.
Remember the five P’s: Prior planning prevents poor performance. The more prepared you are, the more confident you’ll feel about your expertise and competency. Preparation will help you avoid getting tripped up by life’s unexpected glitches.
Learn everything you can about your industry, your subject matter, your goals and what drives you towards success. Before you start a task, first imagine how you want to feel once you’ve completed it. Don’t try to accomplish too much at once. Break complex tasks up into small, bite-size, manageable pieces.
As U.S. Army General Creighton Williams Abrams Jr. once said, “When eating an elephant take one bite at a time.” If you have patience and perseverance, you are only steps away from a more confident you.