Confidence — How to increase it and use it to your advantageArticle added by Anne Bachrach on September 16, 2010
Anne Bachrach

Anne Bachrach

San Diego, CA

Joined: October 26, 2009

Confidence will improve both your personal and professional life. In this article, you will learn how to increase it and use it to your advantage.

Some people seem to have all the confidence in the world, while the rest of us are left to discover why we have reason to have confidence and exactly how to muster it. Having a clear understanding of the talents you possess will help you understand the value you bring to every situation. In this article, you will learn how to identify your strengths and weaknesses, and how to make improvements. Confidence will improve your self-esteem, your performance and trust in yourself to do even more.

If you want to increase your confidence, but are not sure how to do it, follow these simple steps and you'll be on your way.
    1. Identify your talents — natural and learned
    2. Identify your weaknesses
    3. Commit to continual learning
    4. Learn to trust yourself through successful action
Identify your talents
There are two types of talents: natural and learned.

Start with a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle to make two columns. In the left column, write down your natural talents. In the right column, write down your learned talents.

A natural talent is one that comes effortlessly, without any formal training, such as a childhood talent. Some people are born with an internal calculator and can manage numbers easily, while others might be naturally talented at drawing or painting. Your natural talents can be whatever you feel you are naturally good at, including sports and physical activities.

Learned talents are those talents you acquire through education — say an engineering degree or fashion design degree. You might have had natural talents that enhanced your learned talents, but you can't become an engineer without getting an accredited education.

Another great source for identifying your learned talents is through your work experience. Revisit the job duties you've had and find similarities. Maybe you are good with people, so you were typically in positions that utilized your people skills. Or maybe you're a good strategist, so you always found yourself in the planning and strategy departments.

Write down everything you know how to do — natural and learned. This exercise might take a few days, so if your list is initially short, don't worry. When you remember something you're really good at, just add it to your list. You can also call up friends and family and ask them to help you identify your natural and learned talents.

Identify your weaknesses
Everyone has weaknesses, and they serve the purpose of balancing out our personalities. Having some weaknesses is perfectly normal, but if you don't know what they are, you will not be able to effectively apply your talents in a given situation. The point here is to identify your weaknesses so you can concentrate on what you're good at and like to do. If you can lessen your weaknesses, great; but for the most part, just identifying them is enough. Once you have identified them, you can build a team with people who complement your strengths. If there are things that you tend to put off or don't like to do, delegate those tasks to someone that is strong in that area and who can complete those tasks efficiently. This will save you time and energy.

If you're not sure what your weaknesses are, again, ask friends and family. I suggest asking your boss and co-workers, because they might give you completely different weaknesses than your friends and family will be able to identify. This is not an opportunity for personal attacks. You are looking for constructive feedback from the people who know you in order to improve your personal and professional life. Ask for honest feedback with a kind delivery.

Commit to continual learning
The more you know, the better equipped you will be in any challenge. Do whatever you can to learn something new every day. Buy a calendar with daily trivia, read a book a month, or go back to school. Learn a new software application or improve your skills on your current programs. Read a magazine that discusses topics you're interested in. Learn about fitness, health and nutrition. Research a physical activity you enjoy and try to participate in it more frequently. Research charitable organizations you would like to get involved with. Learn to think "outside the box" and create better ways to be more efficient and productive. The more you know, the more confidence you'll have.

Learn to trust yourself through successful action
Learning from successful actions is the most powerful way to build your confidence. The mind records everything you do, and when you successfully complete a task, your mind says, "Wow, that worked!" It literally saves every step you took to complete the task successfully and calls on that memory for successful actions needed for the next task. It's like creating a blueprint for your success. With each success, your mind becomes better at zeroing in on everything you need for success.

Confidence in business
Applying your confidence in business can make the difference between a sale and a "Thanks, but no thanks." Keep in mind, confidence is not the same as arrogance. Confidence will get you the business, while arrogance will get you led to the front door. Confidence is being secure in your abilities and expressing how your abilities benefit your client or boss. It really comes down to a perception — the perception of the person facing you. Confidence and the talents to back it up convey that you know what you're doing. And when you know what you're doing, others can trust you to deliver on what you say you can do. When you have great strengths and can deliver results, people will want to work with you.

A word of caution: Do not up-sell if you can't deliver. Over-promising and under-delivering will damage your credibility and reputation. It's OK to stretch yourself a little, but be honest in all situations. The truth is powerful. It may not always be easy, but is typically appreciated, sooner or later. Concentrate on improving your overall skills, while stepping just far enough outside your comfort zone to learn new things. You will learn to trust yourself and know when you're stretching too far to deliver on your word.

Stretch yourself, rise to each occasion and finish strong. Go get 'em!
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