Confidence makes you a more effective communicator, a stronger leader, a faster worker, and a more proactive entrepreneur.
While we’d all like to be more confident, it can be hard to identify specific ways to build confidence (aside from achieving “success”).
Here are our top tips for overcoming fears and building confidence in business.
- Manage Your State
- Define Your Fears with Fear Setting
- Launch—Don’t Wait for Perfection
- Develop Yourself
- Take Time for Fun
- Keep a Cash Cow
- Talk to Mentors
- Do Your Best and Worry Less
- Focus on Benefits to Others
- Learn to Love “No”
- Use Positive Internal Dialogue
- Practice Confidence
- Keep a Growth Mindset
- Concentrate on Successes
- Help Someone Else
To ingrain these techniques as new habits, try focusing on a new one each month. Pick one technique to focus on this month and make a note on your calendar or journal so that you can pay attention to it each day.
After focusing on one technique for 4 weeks, you’ll be ready to focus on the next one.
Tip 1: Manage Your State
Confidence is often reflected in how we show up. The two traits people will most often notice are your posture and your gaze.
To optimize your gaze, try a 2 millimeter shift. Lift your eyes and your head by 2 millimeters. Usually we look straight ahead or even slightly downward depending on how confident we’re feeling. This slight shift instantly gives you a sense of confidence.
Body language not only affect how people see you, it also affects how you feel yourself.
Tip 2: Define Your Fears with Fear-Setting
Tim Ferris recommends a twist on goal-setting: fear-setting. He suggests doing this exercise every quarter and says that it is the most powerful exercise he does.
We all have some fears that hold us back from pursuing our goals with full speed.
Our brains are wired to protect us by encouraging us to avoid the unknown. This primitive instinct, sometimes called a “lizard brain,” tricks us into believing that stasis is better than potential discomfort or failure. The fear instinct may have served our ancestors well, but in today’s world, taking action from the safety of our homes and businesses is almost always going to be preferable to doing nothing.
This exercise will help you combat your brain’s unnecessary and often illogical fears.
- First, write down your goals.
- Second, document your fears related to these goals. Get out a sheet of paper and write down the worst case scenario you can imagine. What would happen if you completely botch what you’re trying to do? Will you lose time, energy, money? Writing down your fears on paper helps you remove the negative talk that otherwise goes on quietly, sometimes imperceptibly, inside your head.
- Next, set the paper aside. Get out a second sheet and write down how your life will look if you never even start on your goal. Perhaps you’ll just lose a bit of revenue (write down the amount), or perhaps you’ll never tap into a potential revenue stream (write down an estimated value).
- Take out both the papers and compare them. Evaluate your list of fears related to doing the project or taking the action, and compare it to your list of fears related to not doing it. Now that you can objectively compare the two, which set of fears is more compelling to you?
- Lastly, make a determination on what course of action is best for you and lean into it with confidence!
Tip 3: Launch—Don’t Wait for Perfection
Done is better than perfect.
Get your product or service in the market. Don’t hold it back until it’s perfect.
As soon as you launch, you’ll get feedback from your customers and the market, you’ll make your product or service better, and in the end you’ll save a ton of time and energy and money by avoiding rework.
Software developers especially have a tendency to over-design and over-develop before launching. This is problematic if you’re not certain yet of whether the overall product meets your customers’ needs.
In his book The Lean Startup, Eric Reis states that entrepreneurship is about testing and learning faster than your competitors.
To avoid a failed course, build a minimum viable product (MVP) and launch with what you can. An MVP is not supposed to be a product that you’re proud of. It just needs to have the critical features that will allow you to find out if your product or service is something the market is willing to pay for and that you can feasibly produce.
Once you get market feedback, keep building your business as you’re flying it!
Tip 4: Develop Yourself
Many of our clients are very good in their particular technical area of expertise.
Identify where your organization may be struggling or your career falling flat. Then look for resources to build new skills. That could be leadership, recruiting, retention, marketing, sales, or something else. After you identify what you’d like to improve, find resources that can help you learn.
Conferences, seminars, or workshops are ideal. They’re fun, active and social. They also give you new ideas and ways to think, and help you meet likeminded people.
To boost your confidence, learning doesn’t have to relate to your business. Sometimes it can be easier to find small wins with a hobby since there is less pressure. So try taking a golf class, hiking, or cooking something challenging with your significant other.
Whatever you do, never stop learning!
Tip 5: Take Time for Fun
Happy, well rounded people are usually more successful in business.
When you have fun outside of work, you come back to work with greater positivity and enthusiasm. These powerful psychological factors give you the energy to face challenges, focus, and build momentum. They also help you avoid fatigue and burnout.
Schedule time for fun in your life. If needed, put it on your calendar and make sure you give yourself a break during those times.
Thanks to endorphins and potentially better looks, physical activity will give you an added confidence boost. You can go to the gym or just take daily walks with your family or a dog.
Find activities that give you a chance to rest and recoup and you’ll find yourself more recharged and energetic each day when you come into work.
6. Keep a Cash Cow
If your’e an entrepreneur, set your monthly revenue goal and look for ways to create recurring revenue streams that will allow you to meet this each month. Then you can focus on growth rather than just getting by from month to month.
Even if you can’t charge your highest rates for your recurring revenue opportunities, if you can truly count on the revenue each month, you will save time and energy by avoiding worrying about your monthly business expenses and living costs.
7. Talk to Mentors
Businesses with mentoring survive and succeed at significantly higher rates than those without.
Steve Jobs encouraged people to contact potential mentors even when they’re far away or you have a limited connection.
Jobs said, “Most people never pick up the phone and call, most people never ask. And that’s what separates, sometimes, the people that do things from the people that just dream about them.”
Besides connecting you with resources and helping steer you in a good direction, advisors can also provide objective opinions that will help you see your business differently, overcome challenges, and feel more confident in your work.
8. Do Your Best and Worry Less
Most of what we worry about doesn’t ever happen.
The philosopher Michel de Montaigne said, “My life has been filled with terrible misfortune, most of which never happened.”
This wisdom bore out in a modern study conducted by The American Institute for Cognitive Therapy. In his book The Worry Cure, Robert L. Leahy, Ph.D, wrote that 85% of what subjects worried about never happened. For the remaining 15% who said that what they worried about did happen, almost all of them said that they either handled the challenge better than expected or that it taught them something worth learning.
9. Focus on Benefits to Others
It’s easier to build confidence when you know you’re doing great work that improves other people’s lives.
How does your daily work benefit others? Perhaps you’re teaching, making someone’s day easier, or just allowing someone to feel heard and understood.
By focusing on how you’re serving your customers’ needs or achieving your company’s objectives, you’ll take the focus away from yourself. This enables you to confidently provide for others’ needs.
10. Learn to Love “No”
Tom Watson, CEO of IBM, said that the key to success is “massive failure” because without failure, you cannot find success.
Steve Jobs echoed this. He continued, “You’ve gotta be willing to fail, you gotta be ready to crash and burn, with people on the phone, with starting a company, with whatever. If you’re afraid of failing, you won’t get very far.”
Darren Hardy tells a story where a real estate person told him, “Go fail fast. Fail a lot. And fail big.”
Darren Hardy followed this advice. He found that, like a pendulum, the more you fail, the more you also find success. “Even to this day,” he says, “if I get to the end of the month and I’ve not had some embarrassing defeat, rejection. or failure, I’m mad at myself. Why? Because I want more success than I have right now. Well, what is the key to that? More failure!”
Look forward to rejection. Rejection just means that you’re pushing.
If you could use a strategy for getting comfortable with rejection, you can try the 100 Days of Rejection challenge.
While attempting to overcome his fear of rejection, Jia Jiang decided to make unusual requests each day for 100 days. On the third day, when asked a Krispy Kreme employee if they could to make a 6-ring donut shaped like the Olympic logo, he discovered that sometimes people will go out of their way to give you what you ask for.
From the 100 day challenge, Jiang also learned the magic of insuring “why not?” and asking for referrals (“do you know someone else who could help?”). Most importantly, Jiang learned that people are far more responsive to requests than you might initially think. Many people truly want to help you be successful.
Learn from each “no” you get. Probably sooner than you think, you’ll find successes mixed in with the “no’s.”
11. Use Positive Internal Dialogue
For one day, make a list of all negative statements you say to yourself.
Some people are amazed to find that they talk negatively to themselves as many as 30 or 50 times in a day!
Once you finish your log, notice when you repeat the negative self talk and try replacing it with positive internal dialogue.
Let go of small mistakes. Make sure you recognize your successes when they occur. If you honestly feel you’re failing, ask yourself what evidence there is of that.
As Harv Eker says, “If you are insecure, guess what? The rest of the world is too. Do not overestimate the competition and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.”
We tend to believe whatever we say to ourselves. So when when you do “talk” to yourself, be nice! Address challenges with positivity and address setbacks by focusing on what you can try differently next time.
Just like you would treat an employee with respect to encourage their best work, treat yourself with kindness to bring out your best work.
12. Practice Confidence
Don’t wait to feel confident. Instead, take daily actions to stretch your confidence “muscles.”
Just like an athlete, you can’t expect to be good at something unless you practice it every day.
Ask yourself daily, “How can I practice confidence right now?”
Perhaps you’ll feel inspired to follow up on a prospect, ask your boss for a meeting to discuss your career, follow up on an email you’re avoiding, or take 5 minutes to work on a problem you don’t yet have any idea how to solve.
If you’re feeling more bold, you can also ask, “What would I do today if I definitely would not fail?” and then do something that scares you.
13. Keep a Growth Mindset
Avoid focusing on what you “are” and instead focus on what you can change and improve. A growth mindset will help you take constructive feedback and work on yourself without lowering your self confidence.
It’s also important to not take failure personally. It can be easy for entrepreneurs to attach a high level of their self worth to their work performance. Always remember that you can be so much more than what you do at work.
14. Concentrate on Successes
Reflect on your achievements. Instead of focusing only on “to-do” lists, try seeing a daily journal of what you accomplished—a “did it” list.
A journal like this helps you recognize your progress so that you can build momentum while working toward big goals over a quarter or year.
15. Help Someone Else
Volunteer, mentor, or teach someone else.
Nothing builds confidence as much as forgetting about yourself, feeling grateful for what you have, and passing on your blessings to make a positive impact on others’ lives.
We hope that one or more of these tips have resonated with you.
Every person and business is different, so there are many other tips that could potentially help you in your business.
What helps you feel excited and confident at work?