I remember a conversation I had several years ago with one of our team members. He wanted my assistance with a three-way call and in asking me to do this he referred to me as a “velvet hammer.” Was this a compliment? At first I wasn’t sure! He then told me he admired my ability to be assertive without being pushy. As we visited it became clear he felt I came by this ability naturally; that I had some sort of innate self-confidence.
Oh, if only he could have witnessed my first formal USANA presentation. My knees were shaking so hard I was afraid my guests would notice my pant legs vibrating! My palms were sweaty and I understood exactly what is meant by the term “cotton-mouth.”
We can make the mistake of believing confidence is innate – something we either have or we don’t. Not true. In reality, self-confidence is more like a muscle that becomes stronger if we exercise it. We must require a certain level of performance from that muscle or it will atrophy.
The subject of my podcast this week was “Building Self-Confidence.” I shared stories from my life and examples of role models I’ve used in helping to build my own confidence. I promised to list 25 ways to build self-confidence and you’ll find them below.
I’d love your input. If you can add to the list…please do so by leaving a comment. Thank you for reading and for sharing your wisdom and experience!
1 – Practice eye contact. There’s a fine line between appearing shy and unsure of yourself and coming across so intense that we intimidate the very people we want to engage. A suggestion from communication expert, Arch Lustberg, is to find a spot on the face (preferable in the general area of the nose, mouth or eyebrows), soften our gaze and look there while speaking to someone.
2 – Walk faster. I learned this the first time I watched Edna Northrup cross a street. Here was this 80-something year-old woman with so much energy and enthusiasm in her step. I just felt she had places to go, people to see and was a woman who knew what she wanted. Turns out, my assumption was correct! Pep up your step and see how confident it makes you feel.
3 – Compliment others. The old “If you can’t say something nice…don’t say anything at all,” still holds true. When you look for the good in others and then make the effort to tell them what you’ve found, it brings out the best in you.
4 – Give back. My daughter Chelsea said something to me a few years ago that has stuck with me. Considering she has four young children – two with Cystic Fibrosis, I was suggesting she didn’t need to contribute quite so generously to a CF fundraiser I was participating in. “We never have less by giving,” she said. A valuable lesson from a daughter who is wise beyond her years. The more you contribute, the more you’ll be rewarded. It’s that simple.
5 – Give yourself credit. It’s not egotistical to pat yourself on the back when you’ve accomplished something you set your mind to. It’s healthy to acknowledge your achievements.
6 – Initiate a conversation with someone you don’t know. You never know where this will lead – a new friend? A potential business partner? A wedding?
7 – Listen to your “self talk.” Catch yourself and actually say out loud, “I take that back” each time you tell yourself you’re not enough, or you can’t have, or you’re not worthy.
8 – If you’re in a toxic relationship, reevaluate it. You owe it to yourself to have an honest discussion with this person about how things need to be and what you expect from now on. You deserve love and respect.
9 – Notice what you do well. There is so much you can feel confident about. Become familiar with how it feels to think and say, “Wow, I’m really good at that!”
10 – Resist the urge to get swept up in the mundane drama of life. Close your eyes and see the big picture…your better self.
11 – Comparing yourself to others is counterproductive. Compare yourself to yourself. Are you growing? Are you learning? Are you loving? You are amazing!
12 – Do your feared thing first. The longer you leave that big frog on your plate, the bigger it will grow and the more energy it will zap. There’s a reason “Just Do It” is such a popular slogan!
13 – Connect to your soul’s divine center. Find your own inherent value independent of any relationship you’re in or any accolades you receive. Feels good, doesn’t it? And of course, that confidence will only enhance your relationships and bring you more accolades.
14 – People watch. Think of the people you respect – those who exude confidence. What is it about them? You don’t need to copy them…but you can identify qualities you want to emulate.
15 – Believe in magic. I’ve found that certain rituals come in handy when my confidence needs a boost – right before I walk on stage, for example. The Energy Medicine techniques I’ve learned at Sanoviv, such as scooping energy upward from below my waist to the top of my head while taking deep cleansing breaths or tapping energy points on my body help me immensely. I also carry a little angel wherever I go. This probably goes back to my love of Dumbo and his magic feather. Yes, the magic was inside all along, but it sure helped to hold on to something.
16 – Build on little successes. It’s not necessary to fling yourself head-on into overwhelming challenges. For example, if you want to become a Star Diamond in USANA…it’s okay to declare that intention, but absolutely critical to earn your first check, then earn a weekly check, then earn $1,000.00 a month, and move up from there. With each successive step your confidence will grow.
17 – Track your achievements. I’m understanding this concept better than ever with my new Nike Fuel Band. It’s a wristband I wear that tracks my activity level each day. My confidence grows with each day I hit my goal and I love looking back over the past week or the past month to see my progress. There’s even a cute little figure that pops up on my phone when I earn a new achievement. Hmmm…how could we use these concepts in building our USANA businesses?
18 – It’s okay to have a practice round. In our family, we love to play games and each time we teach a new game to someone, we have a “practice round” — an opportunity for that person to play without it really counting. I think we need to do this in life as well. I think of those first few presentations I gave as practice rounds. I think of the first couple times I spoke at conventions as practice rounds. Even if (when) I goofed up, the world kept spinning. Practice rounds are a way to take some of the pressure off while building your self confidence.
19 – Sit in the front row. Why do people sit in the back? Is it because they don’t want to be called on, don’t want to be noticed? Sitting up front boosts confidence. You’re visible to the people speaking and you will be more engaged in what is going on.
20 – Exercise. Admittedly, I’ve come to this party pretty late in the game…but oh my…the impact it’s had on my self-confidence is immense. Fitness has a direct impact on self confidence. By improving your health and fitness level, you improve everything about your life. Having the discipline to exercise every day makes you feel more in control of your life. You look better, you feel better and you have the energy and momentum necessary to accomplish amazing things — including building a business.
21 – Say something. In group discussions, just speak up. People are generally much less judgmental than we imagine and are often dealing with their own fears around speaking in public. By offering your input you show confidence and set yourself apart as a leader.
22 – Try something new. Dust off that old “to do before I die” list and take on a new challenge. Doing what you’ve been doing over and over again can turn familiarity into apathy. A new direction, a new conquest, a new challenge wakes us up.
23 – Pray. Just try it and see how you feel.
24 – Your weaknesses can become your strengths. It happens all the time and it can happen to you. I’d love to hear your examples.
25 – Becoming self-confident is a journey – an ongoing process of growth and discovery. You don’t win the game and then take off the uniform! There is no end-point, no goal to be reached. You crawl, you stand, you walk, you run…and along the way, as your self-confidence grows, you lift and love.