“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be?”
I vividly remember the first time I spoke in front of a crowd of 200 people. Honestly, I had zero confidence when it came to speaking publicly, but had agreed to do it… I was petrified!
I ticked off a checklist of the usual hints and tips—rehearsing in front of a mirror, for example. Nothing seemed to help. As I walked up to the mic on the day, I experienced all the dreaded symptoms of panic and nerves—dry mouth, wobbly legs and I felt sick to my stomach. Then something clicked. If I spoke from the heart, I knew it would all be OK.
No matter how you feel, even if your stomach is in knots and you feel in over your head, if you stand in your ‘authentic self’ you will convey confidence…
So, what is your authentic self… and how can you channel it?
Being authentic means being true to yourself. Authenticity breeds inner confidence and this manifests on the outside, too. But it always starts from within.
Why do we need confidence?
We live in a society that values confidence. Confidence is key to strong leadership, and can make or break your business. When you’re confident, you’re viewed more highly by others, and when you’re not you can wind up feeling inferior. Being a confident person is something most people aspire to. And when it comes from a place of authenticity, it’s awesome!
Having confidence is knowing that no matter what the situation, you can feel good about yourself and how you present to the world. Authentic confidence comes from feeling secure in who you are, accepting who you are, and knowing your strengths.
Wrong! Presenting as a confident person is a journey. It takes time to tap into your authentic self, but once you’ve done it, you won’t look back!
In her blog, Wish you Felt More Confident at Work?, Michelle McQuaid points out that researchers suggest confidence is the ability to turn thoughts into action. In other words, confidence trumps competence. Women tend to lack confidence more than men. Most businesswoman would benefit from focusing on empowering their strengths rather than spending too much time improving their weaknesses. Inner strength and a unique awareness of yourself boosts confidence.
The CEO of Sandler Training, Shaun Thomson, writes in Six Steps to Improving your Confidence in Business that understanding that confidence is a frame of mind is key to success. In fact, it is point number ONE in his list of six tips.
Should we ‘fake it ‘til we make it’?
Quite simply, yes!
Here are some strategies to support your quest for confidence and help you ooze authenticity…
If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail. Do do your homework! The more prepared you are, the more confident you come across. Do what’s in your control, such as prepping for an interview or rehearsing a speech, and try not to worry about the things that are out of your control.
2. Stay mindful
Focus on what’s happening in the moment and stay present rather than worrying. The more present you are, the more engaged your audience will feel. Captivating your audience, whether it’s a crowd of 200 people or a single person, is half the battle!
Know your strengths and think about the times in which you came across as confident in the past, and replicate them. Confidence is a learning curve. When you tap into your strengths—your authentic self—it’s much easier to be confident.
4. Be you
Don’t compare yourself to others, because when it comes to YOUR confidence, no one else matters! Just be true to yourself because when you’re authentic, others know and feel it too. Admit any gaps in your understanding, be honest and—yes you’ve guess it—be authentic.
Remember your sense of humor. When in doubt, smile or crack a joke. Humor makes light of the most difficult situations.
Confidence comes from knowing your own self-worth and value. You have a purpose, so stay true to it and stay connected. This will shine through.
And lastly, if you see yourself as a confident person, that’s how others will see you. Hence the phrase, “fake it ‘til you make it.” It might sound too good to be true, but give it a whirl and see for yourself.
Much of the time, we restrict ourselves by our own boundaries and limitations.
When I stood up to my own nightmare and spoke in public to those 200 people that day, I stopped telling myself I couldn’t do it. I cut myself some slack. Afterwards, people complimented me on a good speech.
Everybody starts somewhere. After all, confidence is a journey and the journey begins by being authentic.
What do you do to feel confident when you feel like you’re in over your head? Please share your comments.