Wikipedia defines confidence as "a state of being certain, either that a hypothesis or prediction is correct, or that a chosen course of action is the best or most effective." Scientifically speaking though, one has no idea whether a course of action is correct until what is being sought has been achieved or not. Which leads to a reasonable possibility that one may decide to take no action because they no longer trust in the ability to perform due to past failures or because one "just has a feeling" that they won't succeed before trying.
And then there's "The Choke." Just at the moment when confidence, especially self-confidence, is needed the most one allows doubt to enter the mind and squelch any hope that the best result will be achieved. It's a term most often used in sports, but just as easily translates into business when important decisions are on the line.
Jack Welch, of GE, once said, “Confidence gives you courage and extends your reach. It lets you take greater risks and achieve far more than you ever thought possible." Hockey great, Wayne Greasy once said, "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take."
Confidence is one of the top characteristics of successful leaders. Here are 7 ways to gain more confidence:
1. What's the worst that could happen? Too often we place excess importance on potential problems and spend too much time and energy worrying. Instead, take action on what you have control over and minimize risks for what you don't. Then invest your energy wisely.
2. Visualize. If you are doing something for the first time imagine that you have already done it in the past. Close your eyes and imagine you succeeding wildly at what you are really going to do. The mind does NOT know the difference between something vividly imagined and something real.
3. Model others' behavior. Find someone who has mastered confidence and copy them. What allows them to act decisively on a course of action? Model their behaviors, attitudes, values and beliefs.
4. As-if. Use the "as-if" frame of mind. If you were confident, how would you be acting, moving, speaking, and thinking? What would you tell yourself inside? By asking yourself these questions, you are literally forced to answer them by going into a confident state. You will then be acting "as-if" you are confident.
5. Keep it in perspective. Visualize the future and ask if what you are faced with today is such a big deal. Imagine yourself on your deathbed, surrounded by family and friends looking back over your life. Is what you are faced with now all that relevant? Probably not. Keeping things in proper perspective really diminishes fear.
6. Go for it. Remember that you automatically lose out on 100% of the opportunities that you never go for. To get what you want, ask for it. As you think about your goals, how effective would it be for you to believe that all the people out there want to help, if you only asked? Whether that is true or not in the "real world" does not matter. Believe.
7. Lose the internal voice. The negative internal voice can keep anyone stopped. To stop the internal voice, imagine a volume control and lower the volume. Or how about changing the voice to a clown voice. You wouldn't take direction from a clown, now would you? The point is to disarm the voice by altering the way it nags at you. If I hear my own voice nagging at me, it stops me. If I hear a clown voice, I laugh and continue onward.
Confidence is derived from within, and it has a better chance of developing when one allows oneself to choose a course of action when the outcome remains unknown. A positive outcome will stroke the confident behavior and make the decision easier next time. A negative outcome will provide a valuable lesson for a future decision. Either way confidence is bolstered and you are better prepared to evaluate risks versus rewards.