“Have confidence that if you have done a little thing well, you can do a bigger thing well, too.”
— Joseph Storey
Last week I wrote about confidence and how important it is to leadership. I feel so strongly about this topic and especially the practical side that I felt another blog post to follow up was appropriate. The quote above is a great summary of confidence, and sometimes it does take some small things to make you confident in the big things.
The three things I started discussing last week that you can do to improve your confidence were: tell yourself you can, practice, and take criticism with a grain of salt. I feel I must say that these are not some methods of self-help where I emptily promise that if you practice these three steps in succession you will be more confident than everyone else. Rather, these are just some guidelines to assist in your process.
Tell yourself you can – Words are powerful tools. The old schoolyard saying of sticks and stones is false – words can hurt deeply. You will always be your hardest critic, and to make things worse, you are your closest person. You always have to live with yourself. So the more you talk yourself down, the less confident you will be. We already have a sea of voices saying we can’t, and we can’t be another one of those voices. Tell yourself you can until you believe it, and surround yourself with some other people who believe you can, too.
Practice – Practice is incredibly important. You can’t expect to get better or more confident in something if you do not practice. Public speaking is the traditional example because few people love it, so if you’re scheduled to give a speech but you feel like you’re an awful presence on stage, practice what you feel is good presence. Refine your speech (how you talk), listen to yourself give the speech, and take notes. As for leaders, if you’re unconfident in your leadership, read a book or two. Learn your craft. I have once heard it said “don’t just practice until you get it right, practice until you can’t get it wrong.”
Take criticism with a grain of salt – This topic goes back to how words are powerful. Be careful who you take criticism from. My rule is to be extremely cautious about taking criticism from someone unless they are doing what I want to be doing. I look up to a lot of leaders, so if someone is in a leadership position that I wouldn’t mind doing, I will take criticism from them pretty well. However, not everyone is looking out for you when giving criticism – even those who are in positions you want to be in. In fact, some people may want to sap your confidence to maintain power, but that’s neither here nor there. In all cases, consider the source of the critique, consider the truth of the critique, and use the applicable parts for your benefit. In order to do this, you need to really know who you are, and I encourage you to take some time to figure that out.
Confidence is very important to leadership, so I want to encourage you to be a confident leader. Implement the three things above because they work for me, and I believe they can work for you.