As an entrepreneur, projecting the image of a confident leader to your investors employees, and customers is crucial. But, self-assurance doesn't come naturally for many. Learning to think like a confident person can help you find composure, no matter how big the hurdle.
"Confidence is knowing that you can walk into any situation with the skills, strengths, and abilities you need," says Marci G. Fox, licensed psychotherapist and author of Think Confident, Be Confident (Perigee Trade, 2009). "You know that you can deal with [the situation], or find someone or something to help you."
Self-doubt prevents you from taking the risks necessary to run a successful company. "You overestimate the risk in your mind," Fox says. "You see yourself as more vulnerable, and you forget how capable and competent you are."
Often, the doubts that get the best of us are rooted in needless worry about things that have gone wrong in the past or might go wrong in the future, Fox says.
Confidence allows you to focus on the present -- on realistic concerns about issues that are happening now. By doing that, you spend your energy on problems you can solve, which makes you more successful and reinforces confidence.
Try these three tips to become a more confident leader in any situation:
1. Get the facts first.
Feelings of anxiety or doubt -- both signs of shaky confidence -- start with a negative thought, such as "I'm terrible at giving presentations." Most of the time, those thoughts are false. "Just because you think it or feel it doesn’t mean it's true," Fox says.
To stay confident, put negative thoughts to the test. For example, if you think investors doubt your abilities, ask yourself what evidence you have to support that belief? What evidence do you have against it? If the facts suggest it's true, then brainstorm solutions to fix the problem. If not, use your list of evidence to help you toss that belief aside.
2. Acknowledge your accomplishments.
As you work toward a big goal like launching a product, pay attention to daily successes in order to keep your confidence high. "Often, we're so focused on what we haven't done that we can't accurately see our progress," Fox says.
Instead, turn your attention to everything you have accomplished. At the end of each day, write down five things you completed or learned. "Give yourself credit for everything along the way," Fox says. "[Each step] gets you closer to the overall goal."
3. Update your self image.
When we doubt our abilities, we typically remember embarrassing or painful moments when we did that task terribly. But those memories are usually wildly out of date. "People who fear public speaking might flash back on a time in eighth grade when they started crying in front of the class," Fox says.
The reality is that you're constantly learning, and with experience, you get better at knowing who and how to ask for help. When you go into a doubt-inducing situation, think of all the skills you've gained, and act as if you're that person -- the updated, accurate version of yourself who has the experience or know-how to succeed.
Related: How to Project Confidence
Nadia Goodman is a freelance writer in Brooklyn, NY. She is a former editor at YouBeauty.com, where she wrote about the psychology of health and beauty. She earned a B.A. in English from Northwestern University and an M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Columbia University. Visit her website, nadiagoodman.com.