If you want to win in business, you have to be confident. In fact, a lot of business growth writers and speakers would say it’s the number one character quality of successful business owners and entrepreneurs—which means that the flip side, the lack of confidence, would be the number one impediment to your business’ success.
While most of us prefer to think that the keys to business success are “hard” issues like lead generation or lead conversion, cash flow management or systemization, metrics or talent development, the reality is that what drives the successful implementation of those “hard” issues are “soft” issues like confidence.
For example, if you lack confidence, will you charge premium prices? Probably not. Will you engage in an aggressive marketing campaign? Will you compete against larger competitors thinking you’ll clearly win? Will you hire the best talent? Will you cut a profitable revenue stream because you think there’s a more profitable one somewhere else? Will you seek to become the dominant player in your industry? Will you trust your people to make big decisions without your input? Etc. Chances are, probably not..
On the other hand, if you had an unshakeable confidence about you, how would you and your business be different? How would that affect the clients/customers you’d go after? How would that affect your marketing efforts? The people you’d seek to hire? Your prices? Your products and/or services offered? Your network and the people you’d hang out with? The way you interact with your employees? Your mindset and expectation about the future? Your position in the marketplace? Your growth rate? Your bottom line and network?
Once you begin thinking about the implications of confidence on your success and that of your business’, I think you’ll agree with me that working on and increasing your confidence is both critical and essential to building a great company.
That said, how can you begin to increase your confidence? Well, here are four ideas to get you started.
I. Identify Your Confidence Killers
We all have them and until we get clear on who or what they are, they’ll continue to shake our confidence. For example, one of the greatest confidence killers is “comparison-itis” (i.e. playing the comparison game). As business leaders, we justify this as “competitive intelligence” or “benchmarking.” From a competitive intelligence point of view, there’s nothing wrong with that (in fact, I’d argue it’s essential). However, the problem for most of us is what we do with that information—and that is, we tend to use it to negatively impact us.
- “They have so much more market share than we do, we’ll never win.”
- “They’re only five years old and they’re three times our size. We’ll never win.”
- “Their products are so much better than ours. How can we ever compete?”
- “They got to market so much faster than we did. We’ll never be able to catch them.”
- “They have so many more talented employees than we do. How can we compete?”
- “Their marketing is so incredible. Ours, on the other hand, not so much.”
Comparison-itis is a confidence killer, but it’s not the only one, is it? Here are a few more to get your brain engaged.
- Lack of results
- You tried something and it didn’t work the last time
- Fear (of failure, of success, of rejection, etc.)
- Negative self-talk
- Negative comments from others
- Lack of knowledge (i.e. don’t know how to do something well)
- Lack of experience
- I don’t have _______
- Lack of integrity (i.e. fear of being found out)
- Lack of perseverance
- Loss of competitive edge
- Lack of clarity about __________
- Other: ______________________
You get the idea. Until you identify what’s undercutting your confidence, you’ll be continually taken down by it.
So, what are your confidence killers?
II. Eliminate Your Confidence Killers
Once you’ve identified what’s killing your confidence, you need to go after it and eliminate it from your experience like you would a terrorist. Remember what you and your business could be like if your confidence level was unshakable. Your confidence killers are keeping you from that kind of life and business success. So, don’t just say to yourself, “Someday I ought to get around to dealing with this confidence thing.” No, deal with whatever it is today.
For example, if you’re given to comparison-itis, you might want to come up with some phrases to counteract your tendency to negatively compare. Here are a couple to get you started.
- “What happens to others is irrelevant to me. We just need to focus on doing our best.”
- “There will always be someone better than me and worse than me at everything—that’s all irrelevant to me and my business.”
- “No one ever wins at the comparison game. If I compare down it inflates my ego and makes me weak. If I compare up, it defeats my confidence. Either way, I simply choose to not play.”
- “I don’t need to be the best at anything. I simply need to be the best version of me possible. Playing the comparison game makes that impossible so I refuse to play.”
You get the idea. Whatever your confidence killer is, come up with a game plan to eliminate it. For example, if you realize that the reason you lack confidence in your marketing is that you don’t feel competent as a marketer (after all, you’re a specialist at your technical ability and you never went to school for marketing), you could create a game plan to become a better marketer. You could subscribe to a marketing blog. You could buy a marketing course. You could pick up some marketing books. You could take some business owners who are good marketers out to lunch and pick their brains on the subject, etc. And, over time, you’ll see your confidence grow as you learn how to become better at something you’re currently weak at.
Note: I know there’s a tendency these days to tell business leaders, “Focus on your strengths,” but that’s a nice marketing ploy that doesn’t serve you well. Yes, play to your strengths, but you have to build your weaker areas up because it’s your weaker areas that tend to take leaders down. For example, if you’re great at sales, great, But if you don’t know how to manage cash flow or you don’t know how to set strategy or you don’t know how to create systems, you will crash and burn.
On the other hand, when you learn how to take a weak area up to a good/acceptable level (even better, to an excellent level), you’ll find your confidence soar. Note: this doesn’t mean you have to do everything. It just means you have to understand your weaker areas well enough to lead others who will be doing the work.
So, as you look at your list of confidence killers, take your top one or two and come up with a game plan for how you’ll eliminate that from your life. The sooner you do so, the sooner your confidence will soar.
III. Continually Ask Yourself Better Questions
Tony Robbins was absolutely correct when he said, ‘The quality of your life is in direct relationship to the quality of your questions.” The questions we ask ourselves determine the answers we’ll receive—and no where is this more obvious than when it comes to our confidence. For example, here are some …
Confidence Killing Questions
- “Why does this always happen to me?”
- “Why can’t we ever win against XYZ company when we’re presenting proposals?”
- “Why does [Joe] always let me down?
- “What if we lose?”
- “Why can’t I ever find good employees? Others can. I just can’t”
- “Why should anyone listen to us when we’re such a small player in this market?”
Just reading those questions makes you feel a little depressed, doesn’t it? On the other hand, here are some …
Confidence Building Questions
- “How can we beat XYZ company on this next proposal?”
- “How can we pull a David and Goliath moment and gain the attention of our marketplace?”
- “What can we do to differentiate our business from others in our market?”
- “What if we win?”
- “Where have I succeeded in the past that can give me the momentum to tackle this?”
- “Who have I hired in the past that was an A Player? What can I learn from that experience to find more like him/her?”
Reading those questions makes you feel more empowered than the last set, right?
In other words, it’s not the circumstances we face that kill our confidence as much as it is the questions we ask ourselves when faced with those circumstances—and that’s something you’re in complete control of.
So, the next time you find yourself asking a negative question, challenge yourself to reframe it and replace it with a more positive and confidence building question. I think you’ll be amazed at the difference a question can make. Remember, if you ask a lousy question, you’ll get a lousy answer. Ask a better question and you’ll get a better answer.
IV. Focus On What You Can Control, Not What You Can’t
One of the reasons why so many of us suffer from a lack of confidence is because we’re often focusing on things we can’t control. Who buys. How many people buy. What others think. What percentage of market share we have. Who applies. If we win a proposal over a competitor. Etc. All of those things are out of our control. And whenever we feel out of control, we tend to lose confidence.
The reality is that most things are outside of our control. They’re dependent upon other people and the choices they make. The only things that are truly under our control are the things that we have 100% control over—and those are the things related to us and our performance.
For example, getting someone to buy from you isn’t a 100% control issue (i.e. it’s dependent upon them making a decision). However, creating a compelling argument that shows how buying this is in their own self-interest and that they’re going to be getting massive value in exchange for a small percentage of that value—that is under your control.
Can you control what a competitor is going to do or what price they’re going to propose? No. Can you control your costs and margins (maybe/maybe not)? Can you control their purchasing cycle? Can you control their cash? Etc. No.
The only thing you can control is you and you making a great sales presentation. As long as you’ve done that—and you focus on that—your confidence will stay strong. But if you base your confidence on something outside your control, good luck. You’ll always be at the whim and mercy of others.
So if you want to create an unshakeable sense of confidence, make sure you always focus on what you can control (you and your performance) and not what you can’t (them and their choices).
Well, there you go. Four keys to increasing your confidence
2. Eliminate your confidence killers
If you’ll do those four things on a consistent basis, I’m confident that you’ll see an increase in your confidence. And the more confident you are, the more everything else will work better for you and your business.
To your accelerated success!
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