I wrote before about the importance of learning how to sell. If you missed that post, you can read it here. If you know how to sell, you’ll have recruiters coming after you, not the other way around. Besides you’ll have all of the related skills that come with learning how to sell.
There’s another skill that you should pick up when you’re in school. CONFIDENCE.
They don’t teach that skill in college either, but the sooner you get it, the better.
When you have confidence, you will try new things. You won’t be afraid of making mistakes. You’ll be willing to make decisions. You’ll even look better. You won’t go through endless mind games with yourself and others as you drag them through your open indecision.
You’ll attract the kind of people who are good for you. Not people who shit on you or rescue you. Those people give you attention but don’t do anything to propel you forward.
As a consultant, I work with people who want to be better leaders, who want to make changes in their lives, who are going through some kind of transition. I don’t try to rescue them. I don’t criticize them.
I listen to them. I make some suggestions. It took me a while to feel as if my time was worth charging for, but thankfully I got over that years ago. Otherwise, I would have starved.
As a young consultant in my mid-twenties, I stayed behind the scenes doing the research. I wanted to see what the clients were doing with the information I found, but I was afraid. My boss told me I wasn’t ready.
Maybe he was right. It wasn’t that I was not smart enough. It was that I didn’t have the confidence clients look for when they hire someone or follow some one’s advice. I remember one of my friends telling me that was one of the most important things for a consultant. [I learned later it’s true for most professions]. I was the only person in that small consulting company that had gone to a state university, not Harvard, and I just figured, I was a “behind the scenes” kind of guy.
But when I saw that I was just as smart and capable as the others, I started feeling more confident. I saw a boss put out a report that I wrote with her name on it and my name no where to be found. It might have been anger that made me become more confident, but I figured if my report was that good, I should get some credit. And if I were not going to get credit where I was, I would go some where else. It took me a while to get my confidence up to leave that company, but when I did, I went to another firm that hired me as a Project Leader.
Some people have confidence all the time. Some never have it. For most of us it depends on the situation. We might feel confident in hiring someone but not in giving a presentation.
To gain more confidence, there are several steps to take:
1. Recognize that it’s a problem for you. It’s not that the other people are making you lack confidence. Don’t go into pity city, pitying yourself. Instead, recognize that confidence is your problem. It’s up to you to do something about it. Beware of lashing out or not trusting others because of your own lack of confidence. A client in the gallery years ago was very interested in one of our artists, but never bought one of her works. He told me at last that he didn’t think the artist was good, and would soon be forgotten. Huh?
2. Challenge yourself. This might seem like absolutely the wrong thing to do, but it’s not. Give yourself challenges that will force you to test your skills. Don’t take on a job that you are absolutely not ready for, but do take on jobs that will stretch you, challenge you and give you an opportunity to succeed. Do the same thing over and over and you’ll get better at dreaming of another life, but you won’t gain the confidence you need.
3. Hang around with confident people. “Like” attracts “like”. Choose friends and colleagues who are confident. How do you know? They look good, sound good, and don’t brag either. Beware of the bullshitters who act over confident with nothing else underneath. Yes, I mean people like Donald Trump. [It it were up to me, I’d fire HIM].
4. Go deep inside yourself and think what prevents you from having confidence. This won’t happen in a minute or a year, but think deeply what keeps you from feeling confident. Yes, you’ll have to get psychological. Was it a family situation, a school situation, a whole series of events where you learned not to show what you really could do.
5. Create a new image for yourself. Change your clothes, your haircut, the color of your shirts or your ties . Something that signals to yourself and others that you are changing. This might sound very superficial, but coupled with the other suggestions, this will help in the transition to a more confident you.
6. Visualize yourself as a confident person. Imagine yourself as a confident person. What would you say? What would you look like? How would you walk? Then, just do it. Yes, just do it all. You’ll soon feel it, especially as you follow the other steps I’ve laid out here.
When to start? College and university is a good time. It won’t happen overnight. And it’s never too late. Many of the readers I hear from are already working. Take any of these steps and start working and living with more confidence.
The world will be a better place when you have confidence. I mean it. You and others will not be putting yourself and others down, and that makes life better for everyone.