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“Confidence is a plant of slow growth in an aged bosom.”

William Pitt, Earl of Chatham, 1766

You probably don’t even notice it happening. Do you remember the first time you tried to dive off a very high diving board? Do you remember the feeling? The hesitation, the butterflies. Now do you remember the second dive off the same high diving board, the third, the tenth, the 100th? Your changed feelings are the result of building confidence.

One day, you face a new situation, full of dread, nervous anticipation and excitement. The next you are treating the situation as old hat, developing confidence with every step.

Self confidence is one of the keys to successful leadership.

Can you imagine following a nervous leader, one who lacks self confidence? It doesn’t work does it. So, if you want to be a good leader, you need to develop a well justified aura of self confidence. Developing it is all about practice. Doing something time and time again (eventually successfully) will build your self confidence.

 

Try this at work:

Find some small thing in which you feel that you lack self confidence. Don’t make it something huge like speaking to a group of 100 people if that is one of your fears. Make it something small, perhaps like having a conversation with someone who is very senior to you, saying no to an unreasonable request, meeting new people at a networking event, or voicing your opinion at a meeting.

Once you have picked this thing to work on, set yourself an objective of repeating the behaviour ten times. Yes that’s right, ten times.

Let’s say you want to become more self confident about speaking up in a meeting. The next time you go to a meeting, make it an objective to speak up sometime in the meeting to voice your opinion. Write down how you felt before voicing your opinion and how you felt after that. Note also what happenned. Did anyone hit you, yell at you, belittle you or did they just hear your opinion and move on? Now do that nine more times, writing down your feelings and the results of the experiment.

After you have completed the experiment ask your self, do you feel more self confident? Chances are you have developed a useful technique to overcome fears.