“One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.” —Arthur Ashe, professional athlete and tennis champion
Welcome to today’s lesson.
Yesterday, you discovered the value of keeping an Accomplishment Journal and using it to boost your self-confidence. Today, we’re talking about the need for preparedness and how it contributes to successful outcomes.
Sometimes, you are faced with an action that makes you nervous or even scared. Often, this involves speaking in public, but many other activities can be frightening or just make you nervous—for example, making a presentation, asking and answering questions, making small talk, having a difficult conversation, asking for a raise, and so on.
Whatever the situation, it erodes your self-confidence, and you doubt if you can be successful. But you don’t have to be afraid. You just need to be prepared.
Here are steps you can take to boost your self-confidence when faced with a challenging situation that requires you to take action. It starts with knowledge.
Learn all you can. The more you know, the more confident you will feel. Gather as much information as you can about the situation or the issue. You want to research it so thoroughly that you feel secure in understanding it and talking about it.
Plan a strategy and a Plan B. Make a list of questions, objections, criticisms, pushbacks, and pitfalls that you may encounter. Be as thorough as possible, and then write out how you want to respond. You might have to do more research, but better now than later. If something comes up that you haven’t prepared for, regroup. Tell the person that you will get back to them; make sure you do so. Say something like, “That’s a great [question, point, idea]. I’ll have to [do some research, thinking, studying about that] and get back to you later.”
Create talking points. You don’t want to write out what you plan to say as a script and memorize it. This will make you sound rigid, insincere, and unsure. Instead, create talking points on index cards or use a PowerPoint to capture key points for a presentation or talk.
Practice. All good performances rely on practice and rehearsals. Unlike performers, you’re not memorizing lines. You’re practicing speaking to your talking points and walking through the situation as if you were in it now.
Mentally rehearse. Athletes, soldiers, musicians, and other professionals use mental rehearsal to refine their skills. Take some deep breaths to relax and then close your eyes. Go through whatever it is you want to do as if you were doing it now. Don’t just see yourself as if you were watching television. Instead, step into your body and do it just as you practiced. This fools your subconscious mind into thinking you’ve already done it, and it builds up your confidence.
Make corrections as you practice. If something doesn’t work right or feel right, change it and rehearse the changes. When you’re preparing, the goal is to develop a level of comfort and familiarity that carries forward to the actual situation.
Practice never makes perfect; nothing is ever perfect. If something goes wrong, view it as a positive. You can learn from it and prepare for it next time.
Take a minute, and download this Preparedness Checklist to use when you need to do something that makes you nervous or afraid. Preparation makes it seem less daunting and scary and helps you feel more confident in your ability to succeed.
Tomorrow, you will learn how to talk about your abilities without bragging. This is important because people need to know what you know and can do. The more you become known for certain skills, the more your confidence is boosted.
See you tomorrow.
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