A friend of mine who’s leading a small business sent me a message today. He wrote:
I have a very hard time marketing, selling, etc. I need to just grit my teeth and be confident.
When I read those words, I immediately messaged him back and suggested that he spend exactly zero time trying to grit his teeth and be more confident.
Like him, at almost every stage of my career, I’ve wanted more confidence. The problem is that virtually none of us seem to be able to wish or will our way to confidence. Despite every grand intention I’ve had of being more confident, that alone has never moved the needle.
I finally stumbled on a better approach when I became a Dale Carnegie instructor, 15 years ago. Carnegie courses are incredible at helping people develop confidence — and I soon discovered why.
Carnegie instructors merely invited people to take the first step in doing hard things. Whether it was speaking in front of others for the first time, or expressing a different opinion, or building better human relations skills, our manta was clear:
Help people take a successful, first step.
In essence, encouraging bravery. The people who were willing to regularly feel the fear at do it anyway often found their confidence.
If you, like my friend, and like me, want more confidence, stop chasing it. Confidence is a lagging indicator. It’s what comes over time. You cannot force confidence today, hard as you and I have tried many times.
Almost certainly there’s a first step right now that is scary for you, but you know that if you did regularly, over time, would help you find your confidence.
Today, my invitation to you, just like to my friend, is to stop wasting time trying to build your confidence. Instead, simply do one, single act of bravery each day. If you are able to master the discipline of consistent bravery, you’ll eventually find all the confidence you’ll ever need.