1. Make a list of twenty of your greatest achievements – everything from passing your driving test to getting your swimming life saving certificate/GCSEs or Master’s Degree. Then list alongside each one, which characteristics it took to enable you to achieve that goal, for example, to pass your driving test it might have taken tenacity, determination, memory training, courage, persistence, managerial skills and technical ability. Carry on with the list, noting for each achievement which characteristics were needed. Note how many of the same ones keep on cropping up. On days when you’re feeling doubtful about just how capable you really are, browse that list, which you always keep in your wallet or purse to remind yourself just how skilled you are!
2. List your strengths and weaknesses. Consider how you might build on your strengths and improve on your weaknesses. For example, do your strengths energise you? When you know you have performed to the best of your ability, do you feel like you could carry on indefinitely and conquer the world? Do they carry you forward even when it’s the end of a long working day, and you’re feeling tired but you’re on a roll? Try to address your weaknesses in the same way: consider how you can regularly work on your weaknesses and strengthen them as you would work on a muscle that needed building up. A little work on a regular basis, and maybe some extra coaching from an expert, and you’ll soon have those weaknesses turning into strengths and be stronger all round.
3. Consider a person in the world who you admire – what characteristics do they have that cause you to admire them? Why do they stand out from the herd? What actions do they take that put them head and shoulders above all others? How do they talk to people in a way that makes others feel good about themselves. Note these things and try to copy them yourself. It’s the little things you do that add up to a whole lot of difference. What can you learn from them and incorporate into your daily actions? Remember that an action only needs to be repeated for 21 days before it becomes a habit!
4. Choose a role model or mentor who is where you want to be or doing what you want to be doing and ask them to show you how they got to be where they are now. Discover the steps needed to get you started. Don’t think you can take short cuts or skip any steps – but by taking advice from someone who has already walked the path you are following, you will avoid many of the crevices and pitfalls that they may have fallen into during their journey to the top and save yourself time and trouble. Don’t feel shy about asking for help – most people are flattered and delighted to be asked, especially by someone who obviously looks up to them.
5. Expect to make mistakes and when you do, don’t endlessly apologise. Mistakes just show that you are human but have the confidence to carry on and not be fazed by your error. If you can use humour in a natural way, then do so, but don’t force it. Self-deprecating humour always goes down well but don’t continue to put yourself down. Self-belief is what we’re looking for here. When you make a mistake, ask yourself the most important question, “What could I have done differently?” and learn from the answer. Also ask yourself “What have I learned from this mistake?” and ensure that you never forget the lesson.
6. Keep an open mind and realize that you can learn something from everyone you meet and not just those “above” you. The post room boy/girl or tea lady might have an important lesson you could learn, just as much as your boss or the Chairman. Take time out to share a moment with everyone and recognize that each and every person you meet in your day is an individual who may have something to teach you or a gift to give you. If you go around with a closed mind and blinkered eyes you may miss what is an important signpost to where you need to be on your journey.
7. Follow your intuition/gut feeling. More often than not you will be right. If not, learn from where you have gone wrong – nothing is a mistake if you can learn something from it. Ask yourself what you might have done differently. Could you have taken a different approach? Could you have planned better? What outcome might have occurred in that case? Remember, planning is essential – an old cliché but true – ‘failing to plan, is planning to fail.’
8. With regard to planning – on a daily basis – remind yourself of your goals – you DO have your goals written out, in specific, time measured, realistic detail, don’t you? They are, hopefully, updated regularly as you take each specific step along the path to your ultimate destination. Keep a card with your goals written clearly on it in a place where you can see it daily – on your car dashboard, on your shaving/makeup mirror, your computer, your diary – so that your goals are in the forefront of your mind at all times. These are there to remind you what you are working towards.
9. Take advantage of every possible learning experience that comes your way – every book, CD, seminar, course will teach you something – even if it’s a way not to behave, or not to present. Make a note of what you particularly liked, or disliked, about the course content, or presenter, or other team members. Get to know yourself inside and out – again to identify your strengths and weaknesses so you can work on them. Remember what you liked so that when it’s your turn to organize or have an input you know how you want things done.
10. Act AS IF! Act as if you are the most confident and self-assured person in the room; take on the mantle of that person who is your role model, watch how they speak, how they dress, how they behave, and mimic their behaviour – once you look the part, it’s only a small step to thinking yourself into the persona. In no time at all, you’ll start to feel comfortable in your own skin. Remember, everyone is afraid at some time, it’s just that some of us are so much better at hiding it than others.
You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you must stop and look fear in the face…. You must do the thing you think you cannot do. Eleanor Roosevelt