My foster father was a Second World War veteran and he often talked about the importance of believing in yourself, believing in your country, and believing in your company, believing in your mission if you wanted to achieve great victories in life. He once told me the story of how every tactical mission in World War 2 was given a name. The importance of knowing the name of your mission was actually life and death he said. He went on to tell me that on many dark nights of battle, with rain and wind blowing, bombs bursting, the air filled with smoke and mud flying, men on the battle field would advance or retreat by jumping into trenches for protection. The first thing a man would do as he jumped into the trench would be to quickly and loudly yell out the name of the mission. You see, if a man jumping into a trench didn’t know the name of the mission (or had forgotten the mission name) the rest of the men in the trench would assume he was an enemy solider and shoot him on the spot. Knowing your mission and being confident in yourself, my foster father would tell me, are the most important things to living a successful life.
When I speak and consult to organizations or audiences I share my father’s World War 2 story because I believe it has, and always will have, relevance in how we as groups or as individuals could approach our work and lives with more confidence in ourselves. You see true confidence is often not something we are born with, rather, it is something we have to nurture and grow into if we are truly going to be successful.
The first step to true self confidence, I tell people, is to develop your mission. Based on who you are, or who your organization is, and what skill set you are blessed with, develop your mission statement, write it down, tell yourself your mission every day – and if you stay true to who you are and what your mission in life is – your skill sets will shine through in the things you pursue and success will surely follow.
We all know that life can throw us lemons from time to time. No one is promised a good life or a bad life – we are simply given a life and it is up to us to determine if it is going to be good or bad. It’s during the lemon moments of our lives when our confidence in ourselves and in our team are tested greatly. It’s during these times when we can start to lose sight of our mission in life and we begin to doubt ourselves and our value to this world. So how do we stay positive and talk ourselves to our best results? Here are the 7 steps I’ve used myself over the years to sustain and grow my self-confidence.
1. Remind yourself of your mission in life. Write your mission in life down – place it in multiple spots that force you to read it to yourself over and over again. Know and believe in your life’s mission deeply – in your inner being. It is who you are and what you are here on this planet to do. Like a soldier in World War 2, you have to own your mission and believe in it deeply to live and be successful.
2. Be aware of throwaway comments that negatively critique who you are, how you look, how smart you are, and so on. Speaking these negative comments about yourself only serves to weaken your emotional energy. When you say “do these jeans make me look fat?”, in small ways you are tearing yourself down and not building yourself up. Verbalizing that “my hair looks awful or these wrinkles make me look old” does nothing to motivate you to do amazing things in your day. Often people start their day by immediately looking at themselves in their mirror and by the time they are done getting ready for their day, they’ve told themselves how unworthy they are of meeting their mission today. They self-talk themselves into self-doubt and they head out into their days far less ready to achieve their life mission than they should. Be kind to yourselves. Stop the negative critiques, they interferes with your self-confidence.
3. Smile at yourself in the mirror and focus on at least one thing every day that you like about yourself. You’ll be surprised at how focusing on a positive attribute brightens your day and helps prepare you to get out and accomplish your mission every day.
4. Verbalize out loud to yourself positive things about your body, your personality, your work ethic, your fitness, your relationships and so on. Focus your energy on your positive attributes rather than your negative attributes and you will grow your confidence.
5. Write a positive message to yourself or your team stating the many things you’re good at and areas that you have positive attributes in – keep a positive view of all the good inside of you. The more you believe in you, the stronger your self-confidence will be.
6. Life is tricky – even for the most positive people – and at times it’s tricky for every human on this earth. No person alive does not deal with life’s challenges. No life is perfect and never will be. The trick to living a positive life, I believe, involves redefining “problems” as “challenges” rather than seeing “challenges” as “problems”. The word problem is a negative word used most often to describe a challenge. By using the word problem to describe a challenge, we unknowingly tend to grow the solvable challenge into an unsolvable problem. So, self-talk yourself well by using positive words and thoughts. Keep your life or the life of the teams you function in at work positively positioned to find solutions to challenges and grow your self-confidence as you do. And know this – overcoming challenges is the fastest and most exciting way to grow your skills and self-confidence.
7. And finally, grow your “I can” and “I will” mentality. When challenges arise that allow self-doubt to creep into your life, tell yourself out loud “I can” deal with this and ‘I will!” In situations where you encounter challenges that you’ve never encountered before, use the “I can” deal with this attitude – because you can! All of us can choose to deal with challenges and if we are smart we have a lot of resources available to us to successfully do just that. We can research solutions on line faster today than ever before! We can reach out to other people and organizations who may have faced similar challenges for advice. None of us live on this earth alone, and the fact of the matter is that if you experience a challenge, it’s almost certain that many others have faced that challenge as well. You CAN find solutions to challenges and you will. Once you do, you WILL be better able to deal with those challenges and maintain and grow your self-confidence and the self-confidence of others around you.
We have one life to live and one life to leave an impactful mark on the world. Many of us waste much of our lives self-doubting our value and capability. The faster we push our self-doubt behind us and live our mission, the faster we will all get on to impacting our world in great ways. Building positive legacies as we do!
Start talking to yourselves, friends – tell yourself about all the great attributes that live inside of you and build a mission for your life that you and your awesome attributes can achieve. We are all so much bigger than our faults! Say this with me, friends: “get thee behind me negative talk – I’ve got big things to accomplish in this life of mine!”