When it comes to career counseling and the job search process, “confidence” is an overused word. And the trouble with overused words and concepts is that they tend to lose their meaning, and eventually they aren’t trusted by those who need them the most. We often see this principle at work when a young person begins a new job that demands, for example, public speaking skill. At first she’s nervous about stepping up to the podium, but we simply tell her to “have confidence” and expect that with time, she’ll naturally become more comfortable with the process. After a hundred more speeches, she can eventually control her shaking hands and cracking voice, but inside she’s just as nervous as ever, and she probably always will be. Whatever “confidence” is, she didn’t really think about it, misunderstood the principles of it, or simply learned to power through.
But if she had actually thought much about confidence and how it works, she’d step up to the podium for her 100th speech with no fear of any kind, visible or otherwise. She would know in her heart that failure was unlikely, and she’d also know that even if the worst took place, it wouldn’t be so bad. She would believe these things on the deepest level and her job would be easier and more rewarding.
The same confidence she’d bring to her speaking engagements would likely carry over into other aspects of her life as well, and she’d face a smoother path toward her personal and professional goals.
So if you’re someone who could benefit from a little more confidence (which describes all of us), what should you do? How can you get to the point where you’re genuinely not afraid of whatever might happen when you step up to that podium? Here are a few considerations that can help.
Talk Yourself into Positivity: You’re Allowed.
While it goes against what we’re sometimes taught, in many ways reality really is flexible, and the things you say and choose to believe can actually change the way things are. This is especially true when you say them about yourself. If you decide that you’re a convincing and fearless public speaker, then that’s what you are.
But what if you have actual evidence that you’re terrible? What if your last boss, father, or trusted friend sincerely doubts your abilities? If that’s the case, recognize that your opinion has more weight than theirs, and so do your words. And even if they were right in the past, they aren’t right in the present or future. You determine your own value and your own strength. Stand behind yourself, and choose your words and opinions with care.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
If you tell yourself that you’re a competent public speaker and step up to the podium only to accomplish half of what you intended, that’s okay. We get where we need to be one small step at a time. Move at your own pace. Just stay steady.
Hold Onto Small Surges and Small Victories
The surge of adrenaline that we feel after small victories shouldn’t be dismissed. The feeling may only last a few hours or days, but while it lasts, enjoy it. Cherish it, and let that period of a few hours become a positive memory you can keep for life. These moments are the foundation blocks on which real confidence is built.
Take Care of Up-And-Comers
There are few things that reinforce confidence more than getting outside of our own heads and helping others. This may seem counterintuitive, and it can be tempting to ignore others or even cut them down to make ourselves feel better, but this is like eating cheeseburgers instead of vegetables. The cheeseburger may be more tempting, but a few minutes after you eat it, you don’t feel very good. The vegetables have the opposite effect. Sometimes the healthiest and most rewarding move you can make involves putting your issues aside and focusing on someone else. Reach out, offer an encouraging word, and watch what happens to your own confidence in the process.
LiveCareer (www.livecareer.com), home to America’s #1 Resume Builder, connects job seekers of all experience levels and career categories to all the tools, resources and insider tips needed to win the job. Find LiveCareer onYoutube and visit LiveCareer’s Google+ page for even more tips and advice on all things career and resume-related.
Image Source: Flickr / SweetOnVeg
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