>What is it that makes confidence such an attractive and powerful quality? Why do some people have it and some people don’t? Can you really develop self-confidence if you lack it?

While confidence has always been a valuable quality to have, I think in these steadily changing times and this shifting economy it is more valuable then ever. Why? Because with so much uncertainty out there, the answers for how to move forward right now, the answers for how to succeed have to come from you. There are plenty of ideas, thoughts and opinions on what to do, how to do it and who to do it with, but there are no guarantees. You have to choose a path that is right for you, create a plan and stick to it if you want to navigate a successful road to the future.

In addition, if you want people to follow you, hire you, or buy from you, you have to project a positive image that resonates optimism and gives others the courage they need to take action. Your ability to motivate yourself, your ability to motivate others, and your ability to keep moving forward in uncertain times is all a direct result of your level of self-confidence. So, if confidence is so important, how do you get it if you don’t have it?

First, you have to define for yourself what confidence is. No right or wrong answers here, just your definition of confidence. If you look confidence up in the dictionary it states that confidence is the belief in your own abilities. Pretty good definition, but for me confidence is so much more than that. Confidence is the emotion that I feel that gives me the internal courage to take the actions I need to be successful in any and all situations. It is a combination of strength and humility, that encourages me to take risks, yet be open to take advice, learn and build my own skills through the talents of others. My self-confidence ensures I speak up and out when I have ideas and opinions, readily admit when I am wrong, and be open about my struggles and failures with others so they can derive strength from my challenges.

Once you have defined what confidence is to you, you’re ready to take the next steps:
1. Define your vision, your purpose, your values – what is it that you want and why do you want it? If you want to feel confident about what you are doing and why you are doing it, then you need to clearly and articulately define what those are.
2. Take personal responsibility – you are where you are because you chose to be there. No matter the reason- your parents made you; it was the only job you could find; your boss is a jerk or does not listen or promote you; you’re shy and don’t like people; it doesn’t matter the reason own it. Own the fact that the only person you can control is you, and if your life is not working for you, you and you alone have the power to change it. There may be risk involved, it may be uncomfortable, but at the end of the day it is your choice whether you remain where you are or go for something different. Blame is wasted energy that could be powerfully refocused on you.
3. Do the core work – look at every area of your life – financial, personal, professional, health, spiritual, and decide where you are out of alignment with your vision, your purpose and most importantly your values. Do your actions match your words? Confidence is about integrity, and if you would struggle with any aspect of your life being transparent then you will struggle with confidence. The areas of your life do not have to be perfect, and your problems do not have to be solved. Instead you just need to be honest with yourself, and take the steps to celebrate your strengths and commit to work on your weaknesses.
4. Make a plan – You know where you want to go, you understand where you are, and you’ve taken responsibility for your actions. So, now you just need to make a plan on what, where and how you are going to focus to go from your current state to your desired state. What few strategies and behaviors are you going to prioritize in your life that will move you forward? How will you hold yourself accountable?
5. Embrace fear and failure. Avoiding things because we are afraid of them, or because we don’t want to fail will diminish your ability to gain confidence. People who are confident gain strength from trying something they feared and eventually accomplishing it. Failing at something and continuing to try until they were successful. You must shift your paradigm and realize that fear and failure are gifts that help you succeed.
6. Be mindful. This is almost a bonus step, as I think it is the most powerful. Be aware and question why you make the choices you do, the negative thoughts in your head, the times that you choose to take a risk versus when you don’t, how you feel after tackling and accomplishing something new. Mindfulness helps us understand and embrace our emotions, so we can realistically address the issues we need to, and understand how to help ourselves remain more positive and more action-oriented.

Confidence is definitely something that can be, and I believe (to be authentic) must be learned. Follow my steps or create your own, and then commit yourself to helping others develop theirs. That is my last step, once you have gained the skill your skill will be maximized by sharing your wisdom with others.