Ten Steps to Greater Self-Confidence

Consultants often live on one of those great "merry-go-rounds" of life. When we are busy, helping our clients, and making money, we are on top of the world. When times are not so great, we struggle with why and how bad times happen.

No matter what your current level of self-confidence, you can learn to improve it. There are many self-help books out today focusing on confidence building and self-esteem. This article focuses on ten key strategies for keeping your self-confidence high and your outlook bright.

1. Know what you do well. Sometimes in the bustle of daily life, we tend to dwell on our weaknesses rather than our strengths. When you break the chain and start giving yourself credit for the things you do well, you will find more confidence in working on difficult issues.

2. Please yourself. Business professionals often fall into the trap of trying to please others. However, it is a truism that you cannot please all the people all the time. The most important person to please is yourself. Make more time in your schedule for doing things that you do well and enjoy. And never compromise your values. You are more likely to feel confident when your behavior is congruent with your values.

3. Reward yourself. Look for ways to reinforce confident behavior. When you finish that big project on time and on budget, treat yourself to a favorite leisure activity. When you reinforce the good, your subconscious can help you do it right the next time.

4. Look for small victories. Let's face it: the big successes only come around once in a while. It you can't count a small accomplishment as a victory, you will be waiting a long time for success. Even if things seem to be crashing down around you in one area of accomplishment, look for successes in another.

5. Learn from your mistakes. When the inevitable failure happens, realize that the situation was a failure; you are only a failure if you fail to learn. See mistakes as a learning experience. Let them improve your wisdom about yourself and the world.

6. Look confident. Regardless of how you might feel when you get out of bed in the morning, dress and groom yourself as you would if you felt at 110%. Stand tall, walk purposefully, and maintain eye contact when you speak to others. Exude confidence, and it will tend to develop in you.

7. Sound confident. Practice using positive terms rather than negative ones, regardless of your doubts and concerns. Avoid using tentative phrases like "but" or "maybe." Affirm your abilities in your commitments.

8. Prepare for discussions. Even with small buildings, the plans are created on paper before the first footing is excavated. Plan your business discussions with the same care an architect takes in designing a building. Write notes, research and anticipate concerns. When you are prepared, there is no need to fear the outcome.

9. Initiate conversation. Don't wait for people to talk to you; take the initiative and start up a conversation with someone you meet, whether you know them or not. Starting a conversation is an evidence of self-assuredness, and will be perceived that way by your conversation partner.

10. Imitate self-confident people. My guess is that the people you admire the most have an innate sense of self-confidence. Watch what they do, how they walk and talk. Select a visible behavior and model it in your own life.

Take these suggestions and make them yours, and watch that confidence quotient rise!