Last week I had the opportunity to meet with a new client at a coffee house that just opened up in her town. It was so new that the paint still had that fresh smell and the equipment didn’t have the patina of being used for countless cups of coffee. While we waited for 30 minutes for our coffees to come out I watched the staff seem unsure of what to do next, the owners hunched over and yelling at delivery vendors and their staff, and customers unclear of what they should be doing while the chaos was flinging around the cafe.
It was obvious, 5 minutes in, that the owners had never run a coffee shop before and they didn’t know what they were doing. They weren’t communicating and they weren’t delegating. Everyone seemed to be walking on eggshells and nothing except a whirlwind was happening.
I wasn’t there to observe them, but it made a great entry way into talking to my client, who can often feel less confident in her own work and life. She has all the skills she needs to make a huge impact, but she shrinks into a small shell when asked about her product. Instead of running in chaos like the owners of the cafe, she is completely frozen.
Both things happen when you lack self-confidence. You either hold everything too tight because you are afraid to let people know that you aren’t sure of what you are doing, or you don’t do anything. Lack of self confidence hurts communication, personal and professional growth, and forward action.
Why Should I Build My Self Confidence?
People listen to other people who exude confidence. If you are unsure, trust me, your team is unsure. Now is the time to find that inner strength and write yourself a new story. You are valuable, creative and interesting. You carry all of the possibilities inside of you, but you need to practice letting that shine.
The owners of that coffee house weren’t confident running their business. They didn’t know how to communicate their needs to their employees or their vendors. No one knew what to do. Yesterday I drove by and they had closed after being open just 4 months. I’m not really surprised, but I am sad. If they had felt more confident and shared that leadership with their team, they might have made it.
When your self confidence shines bright you can lead teams of any size because they trust you to be clear about what is happening. Of all the life skills needed, it is more important than your college degree, skills or experiences. You can’t lead without self-confidence, even if you are only leading yourself. Lacking self confidence closes you up to criticism, thoughtful decision making, communication and getting people to trust your leadership. Without self-confidence you can’t move forward in life or in business.
This is year to change all of that and take some real steps towards feeling more confident.
Stand with Confidence.
Changing your posture can make a huge difference in your self esteem. Standing tall, head up and shoulders back (but not ridged) allows your full stature to fill your space. People will interact differently with you when you are standing strong and tall; even if you aren’t feeling it, they will believe you have more confidence.
Make Eye Contact
People feel more connected when we look into their eyes. They listen to our words more. You can practice by looking into your own eyes in the mirror. Doing this while you brush your teeth will get you in the habit of eye contact with others.
Practice Telling Your Story
We aren’t born business people, we don’t all exude confidence, and we may not be great at clearly articulating our goals, directions, hopes and needs. Practice when you are alone what you are going to say at your next meeting, with your boss, or with your employees. You don’t have to memorize a speech, but you do want to feel calm telling them what needs to be said.
Even though it might make you feel incredibly uncomfortable, speak up for yourself. No one will know your brilliant idea, understand your dreams or be able to help you if you don’t speak up when you have the opportunity. It is important to know that most people are at least a little shy or uncomfortable speaking up too and will, mostly, listen when you do speak up.
Practicing these small steps can help break through that feeling of being too scared or too shy. Don’t let another year go without making strides towards your own self confidence; you have too much to offer.
Featured photo credit: Son of Groucho via Photopin