How to Build Confidence Even When You're Feeling Unsure of Yourself
Entrepreneurship is a process of taking action despite doubts until, eventually, you quite naturally don't have so many doubts.
We all know someone who oozes confidence wherever they show up. There’s no need to be envious. You too can be confident with just a little practice.
Confidence, like many other desirable human qualities, is a skill that takes some patience and time to master. While some people may be born with confidence that knows no boundaries, most of us need a little push here and there to allow our self-assuredness to come to the surface. However, it is an essential skill for any entrepreneur.
So, what can you do to build or boost your confidence?
Gain knowledge through experience.
It may sound obvious, but one key to confidence is knowledge; the more you know, the more confident you’ll feel. To be confident, be eager to learn. “The best way to build confidence in a given area is to invest energy in it and work hard at it,” said Tony Schwartz, the author of The Way We're Working Isn't Working: The Four Forgotten Needs That Energize Great Performance.
In addition, be open to accepting advice or asking for support. Learn to be comfortable using the phrase, “I don’t know, but I will find out.”
Practice speaking in public.
If you feel nervous speaking before others, don’t worry; you’re not alone. Even Simon Sinek, the third most-watched TED Talks presenter, knows how it feels. He offers pointers in a presentation titled Presentation Essentials: Share Ideas that Inspire Action.
When you have to give an important presentation, brainstorm questions others might ask you, practice in front of the mirror and give yourself enough time to prepare as thoroughly as possible. You may not feel very confident about yourself the first time, but you will eventually get there, each time becoming more self-assured.
Don’t worry about being imperfect.
You might assume that confident people know it all and to be like one of them, you also have to strive for perfection. Fortunately, this is not the case. Confident people know their limits. No one can know everything -- even if they are considered subject experts. Whoever you are, chances are that someone, somewhere knows something you don't.
One of the worst things you can do is appear confident at one business meeting and then go back to your previous state of constant self-doubt. Let confidence become part of who you are.
Don’t look for shortcuts in hopes can build confidence overnight. There is no magical formula to confidence, so gradually work toward your goal: a life filled with confidence. “Self-confidence helps us engage fully with life,” said Mary Welford, author of The Power of Self-Compassion Using Compassion-Focused Therapy to End Self-Criticism and Build Self-Confidence.
Set your mind to believing you are confident, square your shoulders and watch your posture. Practice Amy Cuddy’s “power posing.” Simply aligning your body will make you feel confident instantly.
There may be no easy way to change the way we feel about ourselves, but the effort is definitely worth it. Confidence will not just help you overcome nervousness before an important presentation at work or a major social event. Confidence will give you the necessary boost you need to believe in yourself and your abilities, and will free you from fear and self-doubt. Most importantly, it will empower you to be the best, happiest, most powerful version of yourself.
Jacqueline Whitmore is an etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Palm Beach in Palm Beach, Fla. She is the author of Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals (St. Martin's Press, 2011) and Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work (St. Martin's Press, 2005).