Marshall Goldsmith is an author, professor, consultant and executive coach. He has an entry in Wikepedia and searching his name on Google gets 272,000 results – enough to give anyone self confidence! Whilst his field of excellence covers business and management, he appears to have guru status in Leadership. Unsurprisingly, when he coaches CEO’s (and potential CEO’s) he rarely encounters problems with self confidence.
But Marshall didn’t get where he is today without being able to give sound advice on this topic. After all, if you spend your working life surrounded by confident people you should pick up a few tips. And you won’t have to buy one of his many books, as Marshall sums it all up in two sentences on his rather unassuming blog:-
You won’t get to the top without self-confidence; to build it, you have to believe in yourself. Don’t worry about being perfect — put up a brave front and do the best you can.
Whilst its written with a business slant, its worth reading his blog post. But in summary he expands the above into 5 points.
Don’t Worry about Being Perfect
Perfectionism is something that has come up several times in past posts, linking to setting yourself impossibly high standards and never feeling what you have done is good enough.
In most situations we find ourselves we have to make judgements based on less than perfect knowledge. Spending more time trying to get more and more information can be counter productive. At some point you need to make a decision – or decide what you have done is “good enough” – and go for it.
And then Commit
Once you have made a decision don’t start reviewing and back peddling. Accept that you made the best decision you could at the time, based on available information, and stand by that and let others know that. As Marshall says:-
Great leaders communicate with a sense of belief in what they are doing and with positive expectations toward the achievement of their vision.
Show courage on the outside
Everyone is afraid sometimes; as a leader you just try not to show it. No one can see how you feel on the inside, unless you transmit it. I’ve written about looking confident and portraying self confidence through your body language and speech.
Find happiness and contentment in your work
He doesn’t really add anything, just a somewhat broad and meaningless statement.
Learn to live with failure
For me, this is one of the most important and most over looked aspects of gaining self confidence. Throughout life we learn from failure, from mistakes. When very young these failures are often physically painful – e.g. falling off from a height hurts!
Unfortunately these lessons can also be emotionally painful and we end up with very negative feelings about failure. Ultimately failure is bad, something to avoid at all costs. We do our utmost to avoid failure – or avoid admitting it. We make excuses, try to pass it on to others. Or just pretend it didn’t happen.
What this all means is we don’t learn to learn from failure, let alone to live with it. The most successful people are those who have been prepared to make mistakes, move on and try again. Great salespeople are the ones who get rejected the most often.
So a great step forward in building your self confidence, and leadership potential, is to learn to handle failure. Never label yourself a failure just because you fail sometimes. If you’re surrounded by people who call you a failure, learn to re-frame and not absorb their judgements.
Learn from your mistakes and move on. In an earlier post, fear of failure, I include a video that lists some famous celebrities who “failed” early in their careers, but rose to huge success. And what’s worse than failing is not trying at all.
photo by familymwr on flickr
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