You can become self confident by doing three things. First, choose optimism. Believe in your heart of hearts that today will be better than yesterday, and that tomorrow will be better than today. Second, face your fears and act. Procrastination and inaction feed fear and rob you of self confidence. Action cures fear. Third, surround yourself with positive people. Don’t let the naysayers into your life. Hang around with people who are positive about themselves, their careers and life in general.
Fear is the enemy of self confidence. Self confident people face their fears and act. Procrastination is the manifestation of fear. When I find myself procrastinating, I stop and ask myself “What are you afraid?”
Usually, the answer is on the 12 most common fears on the list below. Which of these stop you from moving forward? What are you doing about them?
1. Fear of failure — This type of fear has its roots in the misconception that everything you do has to be 100% successful.
2. Fear of success — This type of fear is based on the idea that success is likely to mean more responsibility and attention, coupled with pressure to continue to perform at a high level.
3. Fear of being judged — This type of fear comes from the need for approval that most people develop in childhood.
4. Fear of emotional pain — This type of fear is rooted in wanting to avoid potential negative consequences of your actions.
5. Fear of embarrassment — This type of fear is a result of empowering others to judge you when you demonstrate that you’re only human by making mistakes and having lapses of judgment.
6. Fear of being abandoned or being alone — This type of fear is related to rejection and low self esteem.
7. Fear of rejection — This type of fear comes from personalizing what others do and say.
8. Fear of expressing your true feelings — This type of fear holds you back from engaging in open, honest dialogue with the people in your life.
9. Fear of intimacy — This type of fear manifests itself by an unwillingness to let others get too close, less they discover the “real you.”
10. Fear of the unknown — This type of fear manifests itself as needless worry about all of the bad things that could happen if you decide to make a change in your life.
11. Fear of loss — This type of fear is related to the potential pain associated with no longer having something or someone of emotional significance to you.
12. Fear of death — The ultimate fear of the unknown. What will happen once our spirits leave our bodies?
By identifying your fear, you are more than half way to conquering it. Here is my four step plan for conquering your fears:
Identify what you fear. Use the list above to figure out why you’re afraid. Is it fear of failure? Is it fear of making the wrong decision? Is it fear of a lost opportunity? Are you afraid that you aren’t up to task? Once you identify the reason behind your fear, you are well on the way to overcoming it.
Admit your fears. It’s OK to be afraid. You wouldn’t be human if you were never afraid. A common definition of courage is the ability to feel fear and still do what you need to do regardless. In 1988, I faced a very frightening decision. Should I stay in a comfortable but ultimately unsatisfying job with a large corporation, or should I start my own business? I was afraid of failing. Failing meant that I would lose my savings and have to start over again, looking for a job in another corporation. However, once I identified and admitted my fear, I was able to take the next step — acceptance.
Accept your fear. Accepting your fear is important, because it shows that you know you’re human. Once I accepted that I was afraid of failing, I was able to start my business and succeed. In fact, I embraced my fear of failure. It made me work harder; it pushed me to work the long hours and learn the entrepreneurship lessons necessary to be successful as a self employed coach, consultant and speaker.
Take action. Action cures fear. It is the most important of these four steps. Do something! The worst thing that can happen is that you’ll find it was the wrong thing to do — and you will have eliminated at least one thing from your list of possible actions.
Action is the antidote to fear. In most cases, you’ll choose wisely and your fears won’t be realized. In the cases when you choose poorly, you’ll find that failure isn’t as catastrophic as you imagined. Successful people learn from their failures. By taking action on your fears, you win on both counts. You win if you make a good decision and things work out. You even win if you make a bad decision and things go poorly, because you have an opportunity to learn from your decision and the subsequent problems you faced.
The common sense point here is simple. Successful people are self confident. Self confident people face their fears and act. Procrastination is the physical manifestation of fear. When you find yourself procrastinating, figure out what scares you about the situation. Is it fear of failure? Is it fear of success? Is it fear of rejection? Is it fear of being embarrassed? Is it fear of the unknown? Once you’ve figured out why you are afraid, do three things; admit your fear to yourself, embrace your fear, and take action. Action is the antidote to fear.