06/11/2014 08:25 am ET Updated Aug 11, 2014

8 Steps to Unleashing Your Inner Confidence

For most people, confidence is crucial to achieving success. Without it most will flounder, despite their talents or strength. I know highly-talented musicians, athletes, and business people who because they lack confidence don't land the record deal, win their race, or start the business they've been dreaming of for years. Simply put, they're held hostage by fear, and this stems from a lack of confidence. The good news is that they can change. I know it because I've helped many do just that, and it doesn't take years of therapy or medication. It takes drive, determination, and most importantly, a willingness to change the way they think. You see, confidence isn't found in a magical pill or a Hollywood superstar's wardrobe. It's already in you waiting to be tapped into.

Here's how you can find your inner confidence:

  • Watch your self-talk. Is you narrative positive or negative? The former will encourage you to move forward while the latter will keep you stuck. Imagine if every time Michael Jordan got the ball he thought, "I'm off my game, I'll never make this basket." How do you think he would have done? If you find yourself getting down on yourself, know that it's your fears speaking. Whenever one is afraid or feels vulnerable, negative thinking kicks in. It is how we protect ourselves from what we think might be a difficult or dangerous situation. The problem is, the mind of a person lacking confidence doesn't always make a distinction between an actual dangerous situation (a life threatening situation) and an imagined one. Taking your career to the next level, asking someone out on a date, or performing with all your heart will not kill you.
  • Cut out the social comparison. That's right, comparing yourself to others will not help you. So often clients tell me, "But my colleagues are so much better than I am." Social comparisons serve no purpose and are merely an excuse that will keep you stuck right where you are. If your mind starts to compare, ask yourself, "How will this help me? Does this move me closer to my goals or further way from them?"
  • Know what you want. Having direction and clarity of mind will help you move forward with confidence. The great Stephen Covey, the mega best-selling author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People perhaps said it best: "If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster."
  • Know your strengths. As with any venture, it is best to work from a solid foundation. Think of your confidence as a table top that is supported by four legs. Each leg needs to be solidly planted in order to support the table top. What are your strengths? What are you good at? Maintain your focus on what you are good at, not on what you perceive to be your shortcomings.
  • Eliminate the "what ifs." This type of thinking is equivalent to getting under that table top and shaking a leg or two. It will destabilize your beliefs, introduces doubt into your thinking, and shakes your foundation. Any time you start to think "what if," change your thinking to "I will."
  • Forget about being perfect. So often people don't pursue things because they feel it has to be just right. They ruminate over how to approach things, conduct themselves, or say something to the point of getting filled with anxiety and either not taking any action at all or doing so in a way that lacks confidence.
  • Speak. Simply put, open your mouth and say something. Anyone who has made a mark in this world has spoken up, presented their ideas, and taken a chance. Dare to say what you believe in. You might be pleasantly surprised by who listens to you and are impressed by your confidence to share your ideas.
  • Be resilient. There will be naysayers and those who doubt you, but don't let that stop you from speaking up, taking a chance, and doing what you believe in. Criticism just means you got people thinking. Many who have taken confident and bold steps have faced resistance. Stay focused on what you believe in and forge ahead.

Is today your day to shine with confidence?

For more tips on gaining confidence and achieving success, check out my book BE FEARLESS: Change Your Life in 28 Days.