Some people (I'm sure you know a few) seem to possess innate, almost total confidence. It's like they were born feeling good about themselves.
The rest of us are not as confident as we'd like to be -- especially in those challenging or stressful moments when we most need to believe in ourselves.
Fortunately for us, self-confidence is a quality we can develop. Anyone (even me) can develop greater confidence.
And that's really important, because to succeed, we need to be the best at what we do.
But not too confident.
As Annie Clark, known professionally as St. Vincent, says,
"I've seen it played out how often too much ego, too much pride, can completely derail something wonderful. It's such a tricky wave to ride because there's a really healthy amount of ego that says, 'I trust my intuition, this is great,' and there's another side that tips over into this myopic infallibility -- and that's not the place where people make their best work. They make the best work when they're riding that wave... and a little bit uncomfortable.
"Sell your own myth, but never buy it."
Why? Confidence isn't bravado. Confidence isn't boastful. Genuine confidence isn't directed at others.
True confidence -- that feeling of ability, expertise, and self-regard -- has nothing to do with how you want other people to see you. It has everything to do with how you see yourself.
How can you develop that kind of confidence?
1. Shine the spotlight on others.
You know you did most of the work. You know you overcame the biggest challenges. You know you led the team.
You know. That's enough.
Truly confident people don't need the glory because they know what they've achieved. They don't need the validation of others because they know true validation comes from within.
Stand back and celebrate your accomplishments through others. Stand back and let others shine. You'll develop a quiet sense of worth... and in the process help other people gain more confidence in their own abilities.
2. Ask for help.
To many, asking for help is a sign of weakness. Implicit in the request is a lack of knowledge, skill, or experience.
While it seems contradictory, confident people are willing to admit weaknesses -- which means they often ask others for help.
Not only are they secure enough to admit they need help, they also know that asking someone else for help pays that person a huge compliment.
Saying, "Can you help me?" shows respect for that individual's expertise and judgment. (Otherwise, you wouldn't ask.)
Ask for help when you need it. You'll make another person feel good. You'll learn something you didn't know. And you'll feel more secure in yourself.
3. Don't criticize other people.
People who gossip, people who speak badly of others... they often do so because they hope to make themselves look better in comparison.
The only comparison you should make is to the person you were yesterday... and to the person you hope to someday become.
Do that and you'll gain confidence through achievement -- which is the best way to gain lasting confidence.
4. Admit your mistakes.
Insecurity leads to artificiality. Confidence leads sincerity and honesty.
That's why confident people admit their mistakes. They laugh about their foibles. They don't mind being a cautionary tale.
And you should too -- because when you do, you soon realize that people don't think badly of you when you're not perfect. They actually respect the fact you're willing to admit you're not perfect.
More importantly, you'll respect yourself for not acting like you're perfect --and will be a lot more willing to try, and occasionally fail.
5. Look for validation from people who matter.
You have 30,000 Twitter followers? Great. 10,000 Facebook friends? Cool. A professional and social network of hundreds or even thousands? Sweet.
But those stats pale in comparison to earning the trust and respect of the people in your life who truly matter.
When you earn their trust and respect, no matter where you go or what you try, you do it with genuine confidence -- because you know the people who truly matter the most are behind you.
6. Listen more than you speak.
Bragging is a mask for insecurity. Truly confident people are quiet and unassuming. They already know what they think; they want to know what you think.
Ask open-ended questions that give other people the freedom to be thoughtful and introspective. Ask what someone does. Ask how they do it. Ask what they like about it. Ask what they've learned from it.
Ask how it feels.
The more you know, the more confident you will become.. and the only way to learn more is to listen more.
7. Start thinking, "Why not me?"
Many people feel they have to wait: to be promoted, to be hired, to be selected, to be chosen... like that old Hollywood cliche, to somehow be discovered.
Nope. Access is nearly universal. (If I can connect with Richard Branson, imagine what you can do.)
You can connect with almost anyone through social media -- everyone you know knows someone you should know. You can attract their own funding. You can create your own products. You can build your own relationships and network. You can choose your own path.
You can pursue any goal you want.
Stop wondering if other people have some special something that you don't have. Start thinking, "Why not me?"
And get started working towards your dreams. Then stay the course. Stick with it. You'll gain -- you'll earn -- huge amounts of confidence.
And just may accomplish more than you ever imagined.