In my 30 years of working with highly determined business professionals who want more than anything to be successful and to build solid confident business skills, I have learned that there are important key steps to get you there. These first 10 tips contain the best steps I know that will help you to:
- Communicate effectively and confidently
- Understand the difference between confidence and competence – with some great examples
- What is NEEDED in order for you to develop, grow and sustain your successful business-self
Why do I know all of this? Well, here is the story of how I learned these skills and KNOW that without them I would still be struggling with me, my business and my life.
In the early part of my career I was an HR executive with manufacturing firms and spent some time in sales and marketing with companies like Memorex, Xerox and Sanders (Lockheed Martin) Associates. One day I read a classified ad looking for an executive with a new venture company. I sent them a “telegram” asking them “What is my start date?” They invited me in for an interview. That was one of the most wonderful tastes of freedom I’ve ever had. I felt liberated and it started me on my road to confidence.
The new venture company failed after 6 months because of bad planning, no money strategy and fraudulent business practices…all of which I was naively blind to. It was a sad event. Nevertheless it became the turning point in my professional life.
As the executive team of the new venture company tried to put the business plan back together, people started to ask me for help with their business issues. I was able to help them with marketing, some sales issues, personnel problems, hiring techniques etc. After about three months I started thinking, “I could start my own consulting business”.
I did not have a lot of financial knowledge and funded my business with my credit cards. At that time banks would ask you for your “husband’s” signature in order for you to do anything with credit lines. Well, I did not have a husband, but I did have two terrific small girls who were and still are the light of my life.
So I opened my business. Well, what I did was buy paper, get a desk, buy a phone, have stationery made and business cards. Looking back I can’t honestly say that what I did was start a business. I was really “playing” business. It took me years of personal mistakes and wrong turns to figure out what highly successful business people do when they construct a viable, profit producing, client finding, value providing business and do it confidently.
That’s me today. I am an influential, profit producing, client finding and value providing business woman. I don’t want to forget to mention confident. And you can be too…
10 of the 25 tips for confidence building:
1. Always take care of yourself first – Many of us were not taught to take care of ourselves first early in our lives and learning it later in life can be tough. Even acknowledging that it is ok to take care of ourselves first can be a struggle. If you know how to take care of yourself, you can be ready for anything. Self-care is not only a wonderful habit to have in our daily lives, it can save our lives as we grow and life seems to get more stressful. When we take care of ourselves first we become healthy, wealthy, wise, confident and centered. So what is the first self-care habit you need and want to implement for you today? Is it getting a massage, sleeping late on Saturday morning or getting a pedicure? What about some quiet time, exercise, taking a walk in nature or even daily singing in the shower? All you need to do is pick one thing that you want to do to take care of yourself and do it. One of my favorite affirmations is: “I take care of me so my life is mine again, and I create the life I love”. Make self-care your new motto.
2. Stress controls the quality of our life – Moderate amounts of stress are good for us. It helps us meet deadlines and run out of the way of an oncoming bus. However, the stressors that begin in a small way can accumulate until we don’t have any moments left where we don’t feel stressed. It can feel like always being rushed; annoyed; impatient; judgmental. Once we get into the “always stressed” place, it is time to take a deep breath and move back to tip number one of self-care. Stress is the biggest cause of illness and absenteeism in the world. The best first defense for de-stressing is breathing deeply and often. Three deep breaths – count 101, 102, 103 on the in breath and 101, 102, and 103 on the out breath – do that three times in a row. It will help you ground yourself, get your reasonable thinking back and let you understand how really seldom you breathe deeply just for you. 3 deep breaths. Many times a day. Use your device to remind you to just breathe.
3. Success is supposed to be fun and rewarding – I find so many of my clients who are angry at the idea of success. They do not feel they can attain it nor do they want to try. It takes too much effort, time, and sacrifice to be successful and “I don’t have the talent anyway”. Actually success is the daily deeds we do in order to live our lives. One of the most influential writers of the 20th century, Ralph Waldo Emerson, said of success “What is Success? To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; To find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; To know even on life has breathed easier because you have lived; This is to have succeeded.” It is not complicated and if you think about it, you are already very successful in many respects. Find out what success means to you and do it.
4. Confidence can be yours each moment – Think of all the confident people you know. Isn’t there something just different about them? The way they walk, talk, hold themselves, how they get involved? The characteristics of confident people are numerous. The difference between you and them may be that they are acting in a confident way and you might not be. Take one of the characteristics you think a confident person has and act that way all day today. Stride into a room. Sit easily and with grace. Speak with emphasis. Shake hands firmly. By the end of the day you will feel differently. You will be feeling like a confident person. Confidence is a practice. Each day add another characteristic. Pretty soon you will be striding confidently through your life and you will wonder what took you so long to catch on!
5. Influence is about power not being pushy – Influence is not tricky to produce, but it does take some understanding of yourself and the situation. If you are trying to influence a person or situation, it is always best to know the outcome you want to produce. Once you are clear about the outcomes, you can be confident of your approach. People with little influence appear weak and wishy-washy. You want to appear to be knowledgeable, flexible and in control.
6. WIMI – “What is most important”? – These four letters can be life changing for you and those that you deal with. The idea that we can communicate easily with anyone by finding out what is most important to them (WIMI) is dramatic for the following reasons. Rarely are you asked nor do you ask anyone what is most important to them. When asking WIMI, you can get to the core of any issue, project, meeting, or situation. By asking a person what is most important to them, you link directly into what they value. When you find out what someone values, you can develop a rapport that produces immediate results.
7. Who are you? – With time and speed as the standard for our lives, we can easily miss who we are and who we are becoming. We work relentlessly to finish what we have started. We find ourselves on committees and in meetings doing what we have always done with no regard for who we are as we participate. It is the nature of our lives that we change and grow as we experience new situations. Get connected to that person – You – who is performing the daily tasks and requirements of life, to find out if this is the life you really want.
8. What are your strengths? – A story: When I first started my business I thought I was inept with numbers and financial statements. It took me a long time to discover that I am not inept, but really very strong in discerning financial steps – I needed the experience of “doing” to see that my first impressions of my financial abilities were incorrect. Find out what you are good at, rather what you have experienced being good at. If you do not know what strengths you have, you might miss opportunities of participating in highly creative and innovative situations. Take a new look at what you are capable of and what you enjoy. Those are good first steps as to what your strengths may be.
9. Rapport – This is the most important aspect of powerful and confident communication. When we develop rapport, we have the ability to listen, create clarity, negotiate, converse and have heated discussions without ever losing the connectedness of the discussion. A great example of experiencing “rapport” is recalling a conversation with your very best relationship. In your best relationships, you are relaxed, have good chemistry, discuss issues easily and come to a conclusion that you enjoy each other. That is rapport. When you have difficult discussions with people, recalling the power of rapport and adding it to the situation, will allow you to be and feel confident.
10. Words vs. meaning – So many times in our lives, we think we “know” what someone else is saying. The words they use are the words we use. However, if you put a group of people together and ask them to give you four definitions of one word, 99% of them will have different definitions for that word. I have used this example with thousands of people – let’s look at the word “client” – asking highly intelligent managers, leaders and executives to detail their definitions of the word “client” and only 1% have matched. The point is, if we are all using the common word “client” and we don’t even agree on the definition, how do we know we are speaking about the same thing. Try this exercise with people and you will see how often we are NOT on the same page with the words we use. The point is to make sure that you are clear with your communication even if you consider it an everyday word.
Creating confident and influential moments for yourself and others invites trust, respect and powerful communication.
Deep breath. You deserve to design a life that is both confident and powerful.
To Your Success,
P.S. Listening Test – so many of you have taken the test and received your results. Your next step is to see where you can easily communicate and listen with better intensity and clarity. NOT TAKEN THE LISTENING TEST YET? Here it is…you deserve to know how you are listening…or not. Click here to take the test..