Self-confidence can be a big differentiator between people who achieve their goals versus those who do not. You must know yourself, grow yourself, and believe in yourself to be an effective leader and businesswomen.
Economies go up and down, technology is constantly changing, markets shift, and new competitors come along. While we all face challenges, an accurate yet healthy sense of self can help get you through the tough times.
When I think about self-confidence, I always come back to intelligence. Sure, you can walk into a room with your head held high and your posture erect, but ultimately what impresses is what you have to say and how you converse on a multitude of topics. Knowledge is power, and through that power comes confidence.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I find myself wondering what others might think about what I have said or done. As soon as I notice that I try to make sure I don’t head down the slippery slope of “enough” that plagues so many women. You know, I am not successful enough, strong enough, tall enough, rich enough, pretty enough, and perhaps even smart enough. Then I course correct my attitude. I remind myself that sharing knowledge often helps others. It also can be a vehicle for my confidence to shine and a reminder that I am always more than enough.
Several years ago, I decided to put together a telesummit and identified twenty-three women (I would be the twenty-fourth) I wanted to invite. The emails were ready to go when I told my husband I decided not to send them. Essentially, I would cancel the event before it began. With a look of surprise, he asked, “Why?”
I told him I was not famous enough, smart enough, and I even threw in tall enough. Although my height had nothing to do with this, it felt right at that moment. He reminded me who I am, what I stand for, and that people are attracted to me because of my integrity, reputation, value, and, yes, humor.
I said I would think about it, and I gave myself until 6 p.m. that evening to either hit send or delete my email invitations. You can guess which direction I was heading. At 5:59 p.m. I hit send and immediately turned my computer off. I did not want to read the reasons why they would all say no. I did not sleep well that night for fear that at 6 a.m. I would have to suffer through twenty-three no’s and accept it.
At promptly 6 a.m. I opened my computer to see that twenty-two of the twenty-three replied with, “Absolutely!,” “What do you need?,” “What can I do?,” “Thank you for including me,” and so on. The twenty-third responded similarly about an hour later (she was on a different continent) and was as excited as the rest. I reflect on this story when I need to banish worries about being enough.
Here are additional ways to build or increase your self-confidence:
Understand both your strengths and weaknesses. Do what you are good at because that is where you will shine. Continue to cultivate and expand upon your strengths. Understand your weaknesses so no one can use them against you. Delegate tasks that are not your strengths and concentrate on what you do best.
Devise a strategy to help you achieve your goals. Be crystal clear and detailed in your focus. Our time is so valuable, and everyone has the same amount each day, yet some people complete what they set out to do while others do not. When you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.
Be accountable. No one can do it alone and more importantly you shouldn’t. Have an accountability partner or become one. Consider investing in a business coach.
Get in the mood. Before a big meeting, presentation, or public speaking engagement, listen to an inspiring song, recite an affirmation, wear something that makes you feel good, or give yourself a pep talk. It might be something as simple as “you’ve got this!” before you step out into the spotlight.
Decide how you can make a difference. You do not have to donate millions to have an impact. Can you mentor young women? Become a Big Sister for someone lacking in role models? Volunteer at a local retirement community, or perhaps serve meals to the homeless?
When I consider how my professional life has unfolded, I always think about what brought me to the dance and who took me for a spin on the dance floor. In other words, who paved the way for me? That is where I believe some of my courage initially emerged.
For many years I was either the only woman or one of just a few women in my workplace. I never had a female coworker in a position senior to me nor did I have any who were my peers. As the most senior woman in the office, I had to create my own playbook. While I was fortunate to have great male mentors who shared their experience and expertise, I longed to have a female mentor.
Never forgetting where I came from, when I launched my own business, I aimed to be that person for other women. Knowing that most businesses fail within their first five years, I knew I had to make my business profitable AND that I also would mentor young women. That was how I most wanted to give back and make a true difference.
My first young mentee came to me when her male mentor asked if I had any interest in mentoring her. It was like music to my ears. I jumped at the opportunity to begin. I met my next two mentees at networking events. Both were looking for a female role model with business experience. As the saying goes, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.”
As luck or destiny would have it, I was exactly who they were seeking. My next mentee and I were matched up through a university program. Although our majors could not have been more different, there was pure magic in the way we meshed.
When my husband and I got married, all my mentees were there, and I introduced them as my bonus daughters. Each one is completely different from the others, yet they share tremendous respect and affection for one another.
One of my mentees recently got engaged, two got married, two had their first child, and one just received an amazing promotion. While the credit for their successes is all theirs, I know we have positively impacted one another. Talk about cultivating confidence!