By Kelli Richards, CEO of The All Access Group
By Vectorart, via ThinkStock
Confidence is essential to your success and that of your business -- in fact, it's vital to everything you do in life. In my own career, confidence has been a pivotal skill and strength I've needed every step of the way, especially in the male-dominated tech and music industries.
Operating from a confident stance is absolutely essential for women serving -- or aspiring to serve -- in any kind of leadership capacity. It's a personal and professional trait that will serve you well, and it's certainly not selfish to aim to become more confident. When you work with confidence, you'll find that you're more effective and efficient -- and so is everyone you work with.
Yet confidence is a result, not a prerequisite or a requirement. In other words, you probably won't have it until you've done something to develop it -- and it builds on itself over time. This is good news: You can learn to be confident with each success.
Channel the Confidence Your Business Needs
There are plenty of benefits to being a strong, confident woman business leader. Not only are confident people listened to more deliberately and taken more seriously, but they also tend to handle business dealings more effortlessly, with greater ease and better outcomes.
Beyond that, your confidence will make both employees and clients more comfortable. It's reassuring to deal with someone who can take a stand and make decisions. Because confidence is a psychological motivator, it keeps you going during challenging times, enabling you to take risks and try new things without second-guessing yourself.
When you're confident, you're more relaxed and focused; therefore, you're able to make better decisions and act on them promptly. Speed matters in business. And second-guessing yourself often leads to hesitation, mistakes, and lost opportunities.
A confident physical presence comes across in the way you carry yourself, and it spurs improved outcomes more consistently. It's like a visible sign of success that says, "I'm going places and I'm clear on what I want to achieve, so follow me."
So You Weren't Born With It
However, it's important to keep in mind that it's natural for confidence to ebb and flow at times. When you're frustrated, disappointed, or coming off a failure, it's easy to allow anxiety, fears, and negativity to creep in. They can be temporary distractions, or they can create a vicious cycle that takes you out of your game for a longer time. The goal is to avoid the doom loop entirely.
We all have the capacity to develop confidence. Just like a muscle that's flexed and strengthened over time, it grows with each success. As you learn to believe in yourself, your confidence increases; before you know it, "confident" is your new normal. Follow these suggestions to move in the right direction and restore your confidence level when it wanes:
- Start with an ounce of prevention. Find a mentor who can determine where your negative thinking stems from and identify distracting fears and anxieties as they crop up in your life. Often, a little insight and a shift in perspective from someone you trust can be the catalyst you need to alter your perception and move on.
- Think before you speak -- to yourself. Experts in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), the field of psychology that studies self-talk, agree: What you think of and say to yourself is extremely important. If you're being negative in your self-talk, deliberatively flip the switch to more positive language to shift into a more confident and optimistic mode.
- Channel past successes. Let memories of past successes fuel your next achievement. Think of a time when you were confident and had a successful outcome. Recall the steps that led to positive results then, and apply a similar technique now to get back on track.
- Be ready for anything. Things will go wrong; that's life. Prepare for potentially adverse circumstances by thinking ahead to what scenarios could occur in any given situation, and envision how you'll use the strategies at your disposal to navigate them so your confidence remains intact, no matter what happens.
- Keep your ego in check. Overconfidence is rare, especially among women. But it can happen, and it's just as detrimental as a lack of confidence. When you aren't willing to listen to other people's input or perspectives, you've crossed the line from confident to arrogant. And arrogance doesn't work in business (or personal) situations, where cooperation and support are absolutely vital.
Every step of my career path has been possible because I channeled the confidence that I needed -- from navigating corporate America to starting my own business. That's not to say that confidence was all I needed.
Certainly, without essential qualifications and experience, confidence can be misplaced. However, in addition to having the skills and experience you need, confidence is a critical -- even vital -- component to your success, and it can benefit you personally and professionally. Don't leave home without it!
A highly sought-after consultant, super connector, trusted advisor, celebrity wrangler, and thought leader, Kelli Richards is the CEO of The All Access Group. She facilitates strategic business opportunities in digital distribution among innovative technology companies, talent and media companies, and brands to foster new revenue streams and deliver compelling consumer experiences. As a trusted advisor, she transforms the quality of people's lives. Kelli is also the author of a bestselling e-book, "The Magic and Moxie of Apple: An Insider's View."
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