“The number one problem that keeps people from winning in the United States today is lack of belief in themselves.”
— Arthur L. Williams | Founder of A. L. Williams Insurance Company
Confidence is an extremely important characteristic for everyone, but it is especially important to leaders. It’s hard for people to follow someone who has no or little confidence in themselves, whether that’s confidence in one’s own abilities or purpose or whatever else. Unconfident people can’t follow unconfident leaders because the combination of the lack of confidence will eventually undo the leader-follower relationship and damage effectiveness. Confident people can’t follow unconfident leaders because the followers will quickly become frustrated in their leaders. Confident leaders attract confident followers, and confident followers are typically competent people.
I can remember several leaders I’ve had that have just had no confidence in themselves. They knew what they were doing, but I think I knew that they did better than they did themselves. It was disheartening watching these leaders’ doubts consume them and sap them of their creativity, competence, and coherence. These leaders did not last very long in their positions, not because they weren’t able to do the job, it’s just that they thought they couldn’t.
The fact of the matter is that people are competent. I have never met a person who was awful at everything; there was always something they were good at. I have also never met someone who wanted to be bad at something. The primary reason people fail at what they do is because they either lose confidence in themselves to complete the task set before them (leadership role or otherwise), or they never had confidence in the first place.
One of my biggest frustrations is this matter of confidence. If you do not have confidence in yourself, no one else will. You need to believe that you are good at what you do. You need to believe in yourself. If you cannot, no one else will be able to either. There are some practical ways you can improve your confidence, and they may seem silly, but they can definitely work. I have provided a summary for each one, I will write a separate blog to explain further.
- Tell yourself you can – This is not some self-help mumbo-jumbo. Even your own words have a huge impact on you. If you are continually telling yourself you can’t when a challenge presents itself, consider taking that out of your vocabulary and see the difference it makes.
- Practice – If you are unconfident about a speech or public speaking in general, practice! And practice well. My old karate sensei always told me that “practice does not make perfect; practice makes permanent.” How you practice matters. More applications to this in the next blog.
- Take criticism with a grain of salt – This is huge for me, as I take criticisms very hard. Some people do not actually want what’s best for you – they want what’s best for them. I don’t think everyone is manipulative and will take advantage of you, but you can’t let what other people say change who you are. However, never reject criticism outright. Always seek the truth out in the criticisms, even if they are particularly painful.
I look forward to going into a bit more depth with the previous three points in the next blog.