I have blogged before about some of the skills that a consultant should be acquainted with like Story Telling, Knowledge Depth & Breadth, and Having an Opinion, all of which I see very important. But in this post I would not hesitate to say that self-confidence is the single most important amongst them all!
Before we continue, what does “self-confidence” mean? my words of choice would be: “it is the belief someone has about his/her capability of accomplishing something that he/she hasn’t tried before“. Notice here that it’s a “belief”
Lacking Self-Confidence Is Bad
“How come you think it is the most important?” I hear you ask. Well, if you have been following my posts you will clearly see that I love bullet points, so let me list how lack of self-confidence is bad:
- Lack of self-confidence is the chuckles and chains that the individual would willingly put around his neck, preventing himself from achieving even the simplest of goals, even if he has the potentials and capabilities; he might be smart, thoughtful, knowledgeable, and resourceful, but he will not utilize any of these treats because he thinks he doesn’t have them, nill, zero!
- The main job of a consultant is to solve the problems of his clients; the client is clueless, confused, lost, in doubts, and he needs help, he needs someone to rescue him from the trouble he is in. Imagine yourself to be such a client, would you accept a consultant’s help if he wasn’t in a better state than you are? if the consultant himself is not sure of his capabilities, he doubts his skills, will you still hand your problem to him to solve? For employees it might be different; the employee might be considered as an investment the company or management might invest in, so he receives the encouragement and support to get him going, increase self-confidence if he lacks it, consultants on the other hand don’t have this luxury.
- Even if you are not taking clients, your image seen by people and peers will be affected. People will see you as you see yourself; if you see yourself as someone who can provide solutions and solve problems, you will be looked at as such person, if you see yourself as weak, stupid, or failure then, no surprise, you will be looked at as such person.
- Self-doubt brings depression, with various of levels, if not controlled.
- If you find these points aren’t bad enough, then re-read the first point above
OK it’s obvious how tremendously dangerous this is, but how to solve this?
How to Increase Self-Confidence
Shall we list:
- Acknowledge the problem; this is going to be the driver force of change; realization. You have to realise how big of a problem this is, and realise the grave effect it has on you. This is a state that we should have absolutely zero tolerance with.
- Remember the “belief” part of the definition? you have to find a proof that supports your belief, why do you think you can’t do it? can you prove that you can’t? I would say help yourself out and whenever you are in doubt try to remember all the success stories and accomplishments you have achieved in your life that can be compared to the situation you are in, and use it as a proof that you can.
What if you can’t find a proof of success? well, at least you don’t have a proof of failure! so you can’t be doubting yourself!
What if you DO have a proof of failure? then you should ask yourself: “was it the same circumstances? have I changed since then? is this situation exactly like the one I failed in?” if your answer was no, and most likely it is, then this can’t be used as a proof, and we are back to the fact that you don’t really know if you can’t accomplish! if your answer was yes though, then let’s examine the next point.
- Ask yourself “what can I do to do things differently this time? How can I change the reason that caused my previous failure, so it is not any more?” and this is a competitive advantage over confident people, you are URGED to think more, try harder, prepare better, and find a better way of doing things. Remember the turtle and rabbit race story?
- Self-doubt and the fear of failure goes hand in hand; we think we can’t accomplish, consequently we think that if we try we will fail, and failing is a big problem, right? well, no! whenever I am anxious about something, my wise wife asks me “what is the worst thing that can happen?”; we tend to build feelings of fear, based on our implicit imagination, that are much greater than what they would really be if the failure really happens. So thinking about the worst case scenario would invalidate these fears and give them their proper size.
- In most of the cases, the opportunity cost is much greater than the failure cost. If self-doubt prevented you from trying to take a leading position, then your loss of losing that position is greater than the loss you would have trying and failing (in that attempt); at least you will learn how to do it better next attempt. It might a simple sentence, but think about it for a minute, absorb it…what do you think?
Finally, know that this is a continuous struggle with yourself, this will never end! if you grow you will be exposed to new things, if you are exposed to new things you will doubt yourself, period! hopefully, though, with these tips and tricks you will be in control, you will use your self-doubt to your advantage and move forward successfully.
Now go and nail it!
[Image Credit: Kevin Cawley]