Last spring, just as I was contemplating what to plant in my flower containers, I was sent a blog post on that very topic. The article was written by landscape architect-turned-event-planner Rebecca Dietz. She skillfully summed up the do’s and don’ts of container gardening in one sentence: every pot needs a filler, a spiller and a thriller.
I just love that. So vivid, so easy to remember, and such a great way to avoid spending time and money on the wrong plants. I would like to do the same thing with the topic of confidence-building: every person needs SWAG: a Skill, some Will, a positive Attitude, and a Goal. I know, it’s not nearly as catchy as Rebecca’s advice, but I promise to keep working on it.
It just so happened that my book on confidence came out the same time as Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In. I’m trying to figure out if this is really good timing or really bad. Given that my definition of confidence includes a positive attitude, I am choosing to believe that it’s a good thing. Shedding a brighter light on the importance of developing one’s self-worth can only lead to amazing results.
When it comes to public speaking – and communication in general – a healthy dose of confidence can be the difference between average and unforgettable; between losing the sale to a competitor and landing a new, long-term client. More goals are accomplished by believing in our capabilities than by second-guessing ourselves.
I know this to be true, and I saw it happen last month. One of my MBA students asked me to help her find a way to stand out from the crowd. Jana is 27, but looks 19. She is very smart, but sounds like a Valley Girl. She has specialized training in her field, but has a hard time talking about it in interviews because she feels like she’s bragging. Jana has worked herself into a panic over not having a job offer so close to graduation. Next week, she will have one last interview for a job she would be thrilled to get.
After our first conversation, it was clear to me what was going on. Yes, all those things are true, but she can get a killer haircut, put on a power suit and look old enough to land the job. The fact is, she constantly undermines herself. And it shows. No recruiter – no matter how kind or understanding – will be able to look past that degree of hesitation.
We worked on ways to stop the self-limiting beliefs. She was even willing to wear a rubber band on her wrist and snap it every time she said or did something that indicated self-doubt. Slowly but surely, she is starting to change. Jana can now hear her own uptalking. She stops herself mid-sentence when she hears the self-negating language creep in. She makes stronger eye contact and is learning to speak with conviction. She has even sharpened her language around describing her expertise that sounds self-assured. She presents herself as someone you would want on your team. It’s a great thing to watch.
Jana has made progress toward her goal because she set an intention to solve her problem and she opened herself up to feedback. I asked her to sum up her progress thus far and any change in her attitude toward the interview on Friday. She said, “I feel confident and proud of my accomplishments. I feel like my best self will show up. Three weeks ago I felt the exact opposite. I never want to revert back to that doubting person.”
Want more ways to build your confidence? You’ve come to the right place.