Confidence: How to Build the Most Impactful Life Skill

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Imagine going through your day truly free from anxiety and stress. How great would your life be if you had the freedom to say and do whatever you wanted?  

I can tell you — it could be pretty amazing.

In my experience, it’s possible for anyone to work on their confidence if they know what they’re doing. And the first thing people need to do is to focus on the benefits. If their confidence grows, they should know they’ll be able to step away from unnecessary mind traps, move forward with worry-free decisions, and most importantly, live life to the fullest.

True Confidence

The sad truth is most people suffer from low confidence and it affects every aspect of their life. But like any other skill in life, confidence can be developed and improved.

Being confident means distinguishing between the meaning of the word and its annoying relative: arrogance. If you’re not careful, you could become the latter.

Arrogance stems from insecurity, whereas confidence stems from true belief in oneself.  

Insecurity pulls other people down because it’s afraid of competition (“what if I lose?”). Confidence pulls others up because it knows that competition will improve both parties (“it doesn’t matter if I lose, so long as I learn”).

Arrogance feels the need to prove that you’re the best. It’s loud. It’s making sure everyone knows. Confidence on the other hand, doesn’t have to do that because it’s comfortable with the results speaking for themselves.

True confidence comes from mastery in your craft, while being humble enough to know that true mastery is a lifelong pursuit.

Confidence comes down to how we view ourselves, realizing it’s the only thing that matters.

If you have a voice in your head needling you to consider what other people think, you should know there’s something a bit wrong. Because if you think about it realistically, you’d realize that most people are busy living their own lives.  Consider that seriously, let it sink in, and then your worries will subside.

In ten years, are you going to care what (blank) thought of you when you did (blank) activity? No. That’s just silly. Use your limited time and energy more constructively.

Confidence at Work

Your gut feelings about your salary can be an indication of your level of confidence.

If you’re earning less than what the market, your hard work, and the value you provide to your business says you do, you should have the inner belief to either find a new company or ask for a raise. It’s simple.

If you aren’t at your peak just yet, sit down and take some time to identify what you’re missing (new skills, new abilities, etc). Then you can set clear goals on achieving those. The funny thing is that the more of these skills you gain, the more confident you will become. It’s like an avalanche that builds on itself 🙂

Regardless of your situation, you need to accept the reality that you don’t know everything, and you can always improve. And that’s perfectly okay. Learning new skills is a main part of building a skill-set that you’re confident with.

Nobody cares more about your career than yourself. If you aren’t fighting for your best possible outcome, why should someone else?

Confidence In Selling

It’s amazing how much of an overlap there is between sales and confidence. And it’s important for understand that anyone, in any position, including those in the technology industry, can use sales skills to improve their career.

For sales professionals, this can mean a literal increase in your commission check. For techies, it can mean the ability to sell your boss on letting you work on a exciting new software, or an idea that could lead to million-dollar products.

Lack of confidence on a sales call or an engineering product meeting comes across in your desperation. Nothing kills a deal like desperation. If you’re desperate, the first thought to run through everyone’s mind will be “Why are they so desperate (to get my business/to get this product off the ground/to develop this program)? What’s wrong with it?”

You don’t want that.

On the flip side, if you’re operating confidently you will have an abundance mindset — knowing there are plenty of fish in the sea, you aren’t going to live or die with this deal.

Belief in your product and your abilities will convey that countless potential customers that could benefit with your help. You’re not desperate at all.

Another way to win more deals is by confidently conveying your tone in your conversations with the following tips:

Slooooow down. Speaking with calm exemplifies that you’re confident in what you’re saying. You don’t see Don Draper scrambling with his words, do you? He speaks slowly because he believes in himself, and his works.

Eliminate filler words. If you know what you’re talking about, you won’t say “uhh,” “umm,” “you know,” or any other version of a filler. Pretend it’s Twitter and you only have 140 characters. Every. Single. Word. Matters. I recommend listening to your calls and tallying every time a filler word is used – you’ll be surprised by the frequency.

Speak with authority and authenticity. This also means not to raise your voice higher than it is normally.  Imagine you’re speaking with a close friend about a topic you are very familiar with (Netflix show you just binged, your favorite video game, a programming language you’re an expert in, etc.)

You’ll see a perfect example of confidence in your product with the Don Draper video below. 

In that clip of Mad Men, you can see that Don is confident in delivering his pitch. However, halfway through he realizes that his customers aren’t interested in the final product, and it’s perfectly okay. He’s not desperate to gain their attention, or their validation.

Remember it’s not the end of the world if you lose a deal. There are plenty of fish in the sea.

Confidence In Your Personal life

app_academy_markfershteyn_datingIn my opinion, the biggest life improvement that comes from being confident is being able to live your life with minimal anxiety and stress.

Remember, the next time you catch yourself thinking “what will they think of me?”, stop yourself! Take a deep breath. It simply doesn’t matter.

Next time you’re out and you see someone beautiful that catches your eye, go walk over and introduce yourself! What’s the worst that can happen? The conversation goes stale or they’re not interested? So what. At least you had the courage.

You can also apply abundance mindset in your personal life (and I highly recommend you do). If you do get rejected, it doesn’t matter because THERE ARE PLENTY MORE FISH IN THE SEA!

Personal growth only happens outside of your comfort zone. Embrace the unknown. Learn from it. Become more confident in your abilities and your value as a person.

Becoming More Confident

Because our confidence stems from our perceptions of ourselves, not the perceptions from others, we have to build up how we view ourselves.

Unfortunately, the easiest way to trick yourself into believing you’re amazing is by, well, actually being amazing. That’s not something you can really do overnight. But remember – mastery is a lifelong pursuit.

Confidence is just like any other skill — it takes hard work, discipline, and dedication. If you’re able to work at it every day, you will experience tremendous outcomes.

Here are ten ways you can start living a more confident life today.

1. Stop comparing yourself to others. The only viewpoint you should worry about is your own. You don’t know what issues other people are working through, or the struggles they’ve gone through.

2. Surround yourself with impressive people. There’s a common saying that you’re the average of the 5 people you hang out with most. Who is in your top 5, and are you proud of that? Confucius once said, “If you are the smartest person in the room, then you are in the wrong room.” Pay attention to the man.

3. Meditate and practice mindfulness. At its very nature, mindfulness meditation is “non-judgemental awareness of experiences in the present moment”. Living in the present will also help you worry less.

4. Set clear goals. You should be constantly aiming to improve in all aspects. Setting personal goals has benefitted me tremendously in my career by helping instill more confidence and belief in myself. For example, every year I set goals like these:

Personal – visit 5 new countries, speak to family more often.
Professional – earn a promotion, learn a new skill.
Spiritual – meditate more, give back and help others.
Mental – improve aspect of life that I’m not satisfied with.
Physical – lose 20 pounds, increase strength lifts by 25%.

5. Keep a journal. If you’re constantly improving then you will be able to see the progress you’re making in the previous weeks, months, and years. Seeing actual growth and accomplishments will really improve your confidence.

6. Embrace failure. Mistakes happen, and you’re going to fail. It’s inevitable. The most important thing is that you learn from them, and will know how to overcome an issue the next time it comes up.

7. Have strong body language. Having body language that conveys confidence is actually proven to reduce cortisol (stress hormone your body releases), and release endorphins (happiness and confidence hormone). There is an amazing TED talk by Amy Cuddy that covers the many benefits of strong body language.

8. Stop expecting perfection. We’re all flawed creatures, and that’s perfectly OK. Stop holding yourself to an unreasonable standard. You don’t know what issues other people are fighting through. Success comes from consistent, small improvements.

9. Create a list of affirmations. A large part of being confident is adjusting the internal conversations you have. Literally writing out a list of things you like about yourself will help with these internal conversation. Spend some time and come up with your own personal list of 5-10 favorite things about yourself (I never give up, I love my curiosity for knowledge, I have come a long way, etc.)

10. Be awesome. Easier said than done, but constantly and mercilessly focus on creating the best version of yourself. Eventually you will become awesome. Taking the first step on the journey already gives you a headstart.

The next step is the most fun — actually working on improving it.

Take a risk. The world is beautiful, and there is so much adventure in the unknown! You never know how it could change your life.

Start living a more confident, and stress-free life today.

Ultimately, I wanted to write this article to help others and inspire them to improve their lives.

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If you enjoyed this post, I highly recommend checking out my personal blog at markfersh.com, adding me on LinkedIn, or following @markfersh on Twitter.

I’ll be constantly writing about sales, life improvement, and will be releasing an online sales course shortly.

Mark Fershteyn is the Director of Admissions at App Academy, and runs a personal blog at www.markfersh.com.

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Written by Mark Fershteyn

Director of Admissions at App Academy. Passionate about startups, tech, constantly learning, and sales.

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