I write from time to time about confidence. In the past, I invited you to be sexier. Confidence is also how one gets to speak at conferences. It’s a pretty important piece of what gets you to the next level. Here are some thoughts.
Confidence is About Small Successes
When Christopher S. Penn and I launched PodCamp, neither of us knew how to do what we did. We just figured it out. A lot of sweat and effort went into creating a conference, even an unconference. But we did it. And that success carried both of us to new levels. It made us feel capable of doing more than what we might have felt before. It gave me the belief that I could figure out pretty much anything, given enough time.
If you’re interested in doing/being/trying something new, can you find ways to make a project, execute the project, and appreciate the small success that comes from it?
Confidence is About Risk
We face moments in our lives all the time when risk is the gating factor. Do we dive off the bridge like our friends, or just stay put? Do we seek out that mortgage we can’t exactly cover? Should you quit your job, even though you’re not sure where the next check will come from?
Confidence is about taking a risk and seeing it pay off, or taking a risk, failing, and moving on from the failure.
Want a crash course in risk? Go to a skate park. Watch skateboarders try different things. They risk their safety for increasingly difficult tricks, often in front of a mixed bag crowd of supporters and detractors. It’s a lot like a microcosm of the risks you might take in life.
Another note about risk: most times, people are a bit more comfortable taking risks they know others have taken and accomplished. It’s those “jumping when no one has ever done it” risks that raise the bar. The thing is, that’s where the biggest reward comes from.
Confidence is About Support
If you haven’t built your own social network (I don’t mean software; I mean people), you don’t have the kind of support in place that I’m talking about. Most people only exist within the social networks that are given to them: coworkers, neighbors, church members. That’s not what I’m talking about.
By building a small, powerful network of your own, one that isn’t comprised of people who passively relate to you in some form, you’ll find the kind of support you want.
I count people like Becky McCray, Jon Swanson, Rob Hatch, , and Britt Raybould amongst the list of people in my small powerful network. Becky’s a small business expert from Oklahoma. Jon’s a pastor in Indiana. Rob’s a junior high school friend from Maine. Whitney came to the first PodCamp (and is now the mother of all PodCamps), Britt’s a business communications pro from Idaho. I have others, too. But do you see the point? These people aren’t in my obvious circle. They’re not in my geography. And they all support me more than I can say.
Confidence is About Eliminating Excuses
I can’t say this enough: language matters. Count the number of times you use negative sentences in a day. “We don’t have this. She’s not doing it the way we want. I can’t do that because they’re not letting me.”
I worked long and hard at turning all my language around to the positive. I’d say, “It would be great to find a way to get this. I’m hoping we can help her execute more the way we’re thinking. I’m working on removing some roadblocks.”
If you talk yourself out of things, it will always work.
Confidence Is About Setting Goals and Making Commitments
It’s pretty hard to be successful if you don’t decide what makes you a success. How do you know if you’re winning or failing if you don’t have a sense of what that means? We tend to think of “happiness” as a goal, but that’s like saying “clouds” are a goal. Happiness is an emotional state that passes through us, not something we can really hold on to from day to day. And it’s also not exactly accurate to what you’re saying.
- Does happiness mean that your bills are paid? Then that’s a financial goal.
- Does happiness mean that your family is happy? Then that’s a relationship goal.
- Does happiness mean loving your job? Then that’s a career goal.
And if you don’t put some kind of solid words on paper that show both the larger goals – “work for myself by age 40” – and the goals that will get you there – “attend more BarCamps and other entrepreneur-focused events” – you will have a much harder time reaching those goals.
Confidence Is About Believing In Yourself First
This isn’t always easy. We all have rough days. If you don’t learn how to build your own self-esteem, it’s going to be much harder to build up your successes. This is the book on Self-Esteem that did the most good for me. I moved from Covey’s 7 Habits book on to this, and after I’d done what this book recommended, my life changed in all the ways you now observe.
It’s not about other people. It’s about you. Believe.
What About You?
Any questions? Any thoughts? Any other tidbits for folks as to how you achieved confidence? Let’s talk about it.