It’s something that affects all walks of life, the issue of confidence is something that we all have a crisis with on occasion. Whether it’s struggling with your business image, your overall ability to lead, or you are starting at the very bottom of the chain, the tasks that come with building yourself up to be someone of considerable importance is going to be met with conflict, from your employees, but also from yourself. We can struggle with our own self-worth and image, and this is a challenge that we all have to rise to. So, how can you fake it until you make it?
Present An Image That Is Confident
If you want to present an image of self-confidence, then what can you do to improve what you see in front of you? Creating an image that is confident and full of ability, even if you feel that you are not, is the first fundamental step of faking it till you make it. Look at the people you admire, what is it about them the first caught your attention? Before they even opened their mouths, it would have been based on how they looked. Remember the golden rule, it’s 70% how you look, 20% how you sound, and 10% of what you actually say that puts you across to people. This means that how you look is going to be a major factor in giving people the impression you are confident, even if you are not. When you see those people at who are relaxed with their own abilities, what is it about them that you notice? Apart from how they look, it’s the clothes that they are wearing, it’s put them into a certain postural position that communicates the specific attitude. So, depending on your job, do you need to communicate that you are being, strong, and confident, or do you need to show that you are relaxed in your position? It’s important to consider the job practicalities. If you are a nurse, you need something to ensure that you are quick on your feet, you can find an inventory of nursing shoes the bill, because they are practical, but they need to be comfortable. Your job dictates the type of clothes that you wear, but you can use the clothes that you need to wear to cultivate a certain image. Posture is a vital part of how you present yourself, and there is a fantastic TEDx talk on posture, which you will find at the bottom of this article. So think about the image you want to communicate, and use your body to fit that image, through clothes, posture, and body language.
Surround Yourself With Confident People
Much like negative mindsets are toxic, the same can be said of a positive mindset. Surrounding yourself with the right type of people in life will do wonders for your own self esteem. The basic idea behind sociology is that we conform to a certain social role. But if you are fed up of being considered to be one of the weaker in your social circle, then it’s time to change this. Surrounding yourself with people who are confident and outgoing can either force you back into your shell, or it can be you rise to their level. And if you are hell bent on improving your confidence, whether as a business leader, or just in general terms, you will, undoubtedly, rise to meet the challenge. But it’s not just about hanging around with confident people, it’s about being able to learn from these people. You can hang around with confident people all you want, but if you aren’t able to understand why they are successful in their own remit, then you won’t be able to apply any of these lessons to your own life. Being a people watcher helps in this respect, because when you are in situations where you are expected to lead, you need to give answers. Looking the part is only one piece of the puzzle, it’s having answers that make you a natural leader also.
Research Your Heroes
You will have people you admire, whether its presidents, or generals, or a local hero. The great thing about admired leaders is that there is a lot of information on them, so you can spend time researching these people and what makes them tick. There’s a great book, How To Win Friends And Influence People, by Dale Carnegie with excerpts dotted throughout the book on great leaders over history and what made them so. This book is chock full of useful information, from dealing with people, to the simple act of being nice, something which many of us have long forgotten about. And especially, if you endeavor to be a person in charge that is confident, assertive, and has the know-how, you also need to be a people person. All the great leaders throughout history have had affinities with everyday people. And you know when you speak to someone and whether they are treating you like an equal, or they are patronizing you to an extent. It’s certainly something that people who climb the ladder feel is socially acceptable, treating people like they are inferior. But if you look at the people you admire throughout history, they were engaged by the person in front of them, whether they were speaking to a pauper or a princess.
Confidence isn’t easy to come by, and those that appear to have it in spades know the importance of practicing. We all have periods of self-doubt, or stress gets us a little bit more on some days, but appearing confident is always a work in progress, and we forget this. Being confident isn’t just a find the product, and that is that, it’s a lifelong struggle. We all have anxieties about our own abilities, and this is what we believe manifests as a lack of confidence. If you can learn a few simple life approaches, then the process is much easier. A good example is if you don’t know something. Some people feel they need to blindly talk their way through a subject, pretending they know everything about it, but this doesn’t benefit anybody. It’s much more beneficial for you to say if you don’t know something, and ask questions. The great leaders know their way around getting information out of people. Nobody knows everything, not least you! When it comes to practicing being confident, the best way to do it is to throw yourself into uncomfortable situations. The reason for this is if your comfort zone is slowly expanding, then there is no circumstance in which you feel uncomfortable. Think of ER doctors, who have to face life and death situations on a daily basis. There is a fantastic lecture by Dr. Doug McGuff, which you can find here, that breaks down the ways to function in a high stress environment. The thing to take away from it is that our internal doubts and anxieties will color the circumstances we’re in. So if you can develop tools and techniques for you to function in environments that make you feel uncomfortable, and solve the problems with extreme focus, then there is nothing you can’t do! Put simply, to help us feel confident, we need to figure out ways to turn down that voice inside your head that says “you can’t do it!” Watch this lecture and take a few key points away from it, but also consider your own attitudes towards situations that will detract from your confidence. As soon as you control these, you will function better, not just in a business environment, but any environment!
Integrity: The Secret Ingredient
Faking it till you make it can sound like a lot of dishonesty, but these are merely psychological tricks. For you to get anywhere in business, or in life, you need to be honest. We see those people lying and faking their way up the ladder, by doing whatever dirty deeds necessary, but they are found out in the end. Dishonesty isn’t a useful tool to have, although it can appear this way in the short-term. If you can learn to work with people, and yourself, with bonafide integrity, then this is going to be the undercurrent of your confidence. You can certainly surround yourself with the right people, and learn all the tools necessary to make you appear confident, but to truly be confident, it’s going to take a long journey. But this journey begins with honesty and integrity.
Every leader embodies typical traits of confidence, and you can go and learn about these traits, but it’s all about putting them into practice, where you will truly learn about how you can be confident in every aspect of your life, not just doing business dealings. Yes, faking it til you make it does work, for the very simple reason that your brain cannot tell the difference between reality and fiction. So you can certainly trick your brain into evoking confident currents, but you need to continue the quest far beyond this. It’s not just about being confident, but it’s about what being confident entails, in life, and in work.