Business knowledge and skills are not the only keys to success. To be successful, you also need to master the psychological skills that will help you to be satisfied and fulfilled, and thus more effective in your work. Knowing how to manage your mind, and understanding how to deal with lack of confidence, stress, anxiety, and depression, is as important as knowing how to handle the strategic and organizational challenges of your business.
Success isn’t about money. It’s not a position or power. It’s being happy, satisfied, and productive. But to achieve success in today’s highly competitive and constantly changing world you have to learn to build up your confidence and be assertive. You have to be able to put things in perspective so that you can counter stress, depression, and anxiety. And most importantly, you have to manage yourself so that you can manage your time.
Self-confidence is perhaps the most important, yet overlooked skill that you must have for success in your personal and business life. If you lack self-confidence, you will be apprehensive, frustrated, resentful, and demoralized. In your behavior, you will be passive, avoid taking initiatives, and constantly seek reassurance. Lack of self-confidence can hamper your professional career and your personal relationships.
Many people believe self-confidence is a virtue that others have and they never will. This is wrong. Self-confidence is not an all-or-nothing personality trait that you either have or you don’t. A person may be very self-confident in one area or situation and much less so in another. Self-Confidence is a skill that can be acquired.
Here are six suggestion to help build your self-confidence:
1. Behave “as if you’ve already done it. " At a moment when you lack confidence (for example, if you are about to make a presentation to your boss), ask yourself, “How would I behave if I were really confident?" or Ask yourself, “How would a confident person you know handle this?’ Just by adopting the behavior of self-confidence, the posture, thoughts, and actions, you will begin to feel more confident.
2. Don’t be afraid of being flexible. People lacking self-confidence feel that they must follow a careful, well-planned route to be safe. Don’t be afraid to leave the road. You’ll find that the pitfalls you imagined waiting to trap you were mostly imaginary.
3. Make the most of your mistakes and then leave them behind. Only those who do nothing, do nothing wrong. If you make a mistake, learn a lesson from it, then move on.
4. Operate with a statute of limitations. Don’t keep kicking yourself for past mistakes. Instead give yourself a pep talk for the future.
5. Be kind to yourself. This is an important, yet underutilized strategy for building self-confidence. Too often we punish ourselves for failures, but never reward ourselves for success. Reward yourself with a treat, anything from a mid-morning break to a restaurant meal. And forget about self-punishment.
6. Practice self-confidence on a daily basis. Don’t practice building your self-confidence only when you are particularly vulnerable. Practice it when you are feeling good also. Self-confidence must become a habit that you can call on whenever you need it.
Success means being fair to yourself and to others. You must learn to be assertive but fair. Assertiveness is based on the idea that your needs, wants, and feelings are neither more nor less important than those of other people. You have the right to make claims for yourself clearly and honestly, as long as those claims don’t impinge on the rights of others.
An assertive person knows how to balance aggression and passivity. If you are too passive in making claims for yourself, you will not get what you want and deserve. If you are too aggressive, on the other hand, you will be unfair to others.
To be assertive, you must also know how to strike a balance between reflecting and reacting. You must know how to think before you act, but don’t avoid taking action. For example, if someone borrows something precious from you and damages it, you have the right to be angry. But don’t explode into a tirade of expletives and general insults. That’s overreacting. On the other hand, don’t prevent yourself from saying something because you don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings. That’s being too reflective. Assertive people are able to express their anger clearly and appropriately, focusing that anger on the behavior, not the person.
To be assertive, you have to have the right attitude and the right skills. To acquire the right attitude you must build up your confidence and self-esteem. If you are not self-confident or if you have low self-esteem, you will not be able to stand up for yourself when you need to. Being assertive means thinking highly of yourself and others as well.
An assertive person knows exactly what he or she wants. If you are self-confident but don’t know what you want, then you will be as ineffectual as someone who is passive. You have to believe without any doubt that you have the same rights as anyone else. You have the right to get what you want in life, as long as it doesn’t impinge unfairly on others.
The psychology of success means that you have to keep things in perspective. Successful people never allow negative thoughts to hurt them. Negative thoughts affect your feelings and negative feelings affect your thoughts in a vicious, unending circle. For example, if you feel miserable, you will think about the things that have gone wrong in your life. If you feel apprehensive, you will think that you are going to fail. As your thoughts and feelings reinforce each other, your anxiety, depression, or stress becomes deeper.
Because of the connection between thoughts and feelings, you will be able to feel differently, less stressed, less anxious, if you can make yourself think differently. You may believe at times that there is only one way to view a situation, but this is just an illusion. There is always more than one way of thinking about things.
To break out of the negative thought/feeling cycle, identify the specific thoughts that cause you to feel negatively. Then look for another perspective on those thoughts. One way of doing this is to keep a “thought record. " During the day, write down your negative thoughts as they occur and what you are doing at the time you are having them. Then for every thought, ask yourself if there is an alternate, more positive spin you can put on those negative thoughts. For example, if you say “I should be able to cope better than this, " ask yourself: “Would anyone else cope better?"
Forcing yourself to look at a situation or event from another point of view is easier said than done. But, if you take the time to step back and ask certain questions you will be able to gain a different perspective. Here are some questions that can help:
* Questions about your thoughts. What other points of view are there? How would someone else think about this? How would I think about this if I were feeling better?
* Questions about the reality. What are the facts of this situation? How can I find out which way of thinking fits the facts best?
* Questions about how to cope. What is the worst that could happen? How bad is this going to get? What should I do if the worst happens?
Forcing yourself to step back and attempt to think differently about situations and events is a major step in battling anxiety, depression, and stress, three all-too-common psychological enemies to happiness and success.
In part two of “The Psychology of Success" we will look more closely at how to defeat depression, anxiety, and control stress.
Copyright© 2005 by Joe Love and JLM & Associates, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.
Joe Love draws on his 25 years of experience helping both individuals and companies build their businesses, increase profits, and achieve total success. He is the founder and CEO of JLM & Associates, a consulting and training organization, specializing in personal and business development. Through his seminars and lectures, Joe Love addresses thousands of men and women each year, including the executives and staffs of many of America’s largest corporations, on the subjects of leadership, self-esteem, goals, achievement, and success psychology.
Reach Joe at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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