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Building Real Self-Confidence part 1

By John P Hickey...

"Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy." - Dale Carnegie

I have been studying, writing about, teaching and applying the principles of successful living for close to forty years now. These principles are timeless, changeless and there for everyone to apply and benefit from. I have also discovered that the principles of success are often misunderstood, feared, misrepresented and lied about. None more than the principle of self-confidence.
The principle of self-confidence has been twisted and redefined into many things, none that truly represent what real confidence is. It has been called "Self-Centeredness" and often turned into a narcissistic search for self satisfaction. It is seen as an over inflated ego and people who are confident are the ones who step on others in order to get ahead. Self-confidence is presented as a lack of real ability replaced by a pushy and arrogant attitude that forces others to take notice.

Success-minded people need to understand that these negative descriptions of self-confidence are untrue. Real self-confidence is in reality not only a good quality but necessary for all success. Without it we lack courage to move forward, try new things and test our limits. It is a lack of self-confidence that leads to the mediocrity of many of today's leaders.
Have you lost your battle in trying to achieve your dream? Have you found that you know you can do better, have more and be successful in your dreams, but just cannot get yourself to do it? Few things will rob you of your ability to succeed, in any area of life, more than a lack of self-confidence. But to have that confidence, you must first understand what it is and how do you achieve it.

What Is Confidence

"Every achiever that I have ever met says, 'My life turned around when I began to believe in me.'" - Dr. Robert Schuller
Self-confidence is the knowledge and understanding that you have particular talents and strengths. It is the awareness of what you can do and the desire to do it with excellence to the best of your ability. Real self-confidence is not thinking you are better than everyone else but knowing that there are some things that you can do better than everyone else.
Where some may think that to have confidence you must have a big ego, the truth is that real self-confidence is humble and focused. The man or woman who possesses real self-confidence will do their job with excellence and not feel they have to let everyone else know that they did. Excellence is always recognized by those who see it. It is the person who lacks confidence in themselves who feels they have to point out what they do to everyone around them.

To be confident is to know that you have the abilities to succeed in certain areas of life. It is also recognizing that other have strengths as well and are better than you in some areas. This realization is not threatening to the confident person but celebrated. Just as they want to do their best, they rejoice in seeing others do their best as well. It is a lack of confidence that causes a man or woman to feel threatened but the success of others. Lack of self-confidence causes people to feel they are always competing with the next guy to be the best. If they are not seen as the best in everything; they become angry, depressed and nasty. We have all seen it before and it is never a pretty site.

Publisher, Marcus Garvey once said, "If you have no confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life." To believe in yourself and your abilities is not prideful or egocentric. It is understanding that you must work hard to be the best at what you do. Why do you want to be the best? Not to show off or make others feel less, but you owe it to others to give them the best you have. To give any less is selfish and lazy on your part.

Why Do We Need Confidence

"No one can defeat us unless we first defeat ourselves." - Dwight D. Eisenhower
Helen Keller, a woman who faced more challenges and difficulties in her life than most people could even imagine, once said, "Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence." Why do we need to build confidence in our lives? Simply put, without it we can achieve nothing.
When you feel confident you have the courage to strike out and face the challenges before you. Self-confidence is the knowledge that you have the ability to achieve your goals. It is knowing that even if you fail at this attempt, you will learn from the mistakes, move forward and win in the end. People with confidence are those who develop the determination to keep keeping on, even in the face of great difficulties.

U.S. President, Abraham Lincoln was a man of great self-confidence. He failed in politics more than he succeeded, however, when he did succeed it really mattered. Starting with great disadvantages and many heart breaks, he was confident that he had something to give to his country. He was one of the more humble of all Presidents. Knowing full well that he could not do it alone, he build his Cabinet with the very best of the leaders of his day. Some were his enemies, yet he recognized their abilities more than their disagreements. He went on to become one of the most respected and cherished leaders in world history.
Lincoln's confidence was not a big ego that made him think he was better than everyone else. He knew he had to work hard for the things he wanted and he needed the determination to keep going, even when things did not go his way. He once commented, "I will prepare and some day my chance will come." Success in anything does not come because you think you are better. It will not come because you feel that you deserve it. It will not come because you believe it is your turn. It will only come when you prepare for it.
The motto of the Boy Scouts of America is, "Be Prepared". It is not wait your turn, go get it or you deserve this, it is "Be Prepared". Prepared for what? Here is how Sir Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts put it, "Be Prepared... the meaning of the motto is that a Scout must prepare himself by previous thinking out and practicing how to act on any accident or emergency so that he is never taken by surprise." I believe that we also have to be prepared to succeed. When opportunity comes our way we must be ready and able to go after it. For the unprepared, opportunity always seems to happen to the other guy.

Self-confidence gives us courage and helps us to think clearly and correctly. There is no spending countless hours worrying about what we will do or if we can do it. With self-confidence it is not a question of "if" but of "when". If a person is thinking in terms of "when" they get their chance or "when" they face the opportunity, they will be prepared and ready for it. They will think of it every day and always be mindful of what is happening in their life so they do not miss a thing. Self-confidence makes us prepare and when we feel prepared we feel confident. You can see how this all build on itself and makes you stronger and stronger.

Building Confidence

Now that we have a bit of an understanding of what self-confidence is and is not; as well as why we need to build confidence, let's talk about how to develop self-confidence in our lives. I believe that some people have a greater ability to build confidence than others. There are those who's behavioral style leans to a more self-confident attitude and their nature is to build their confidence without a lot of focus or effort. I also believe that there are those who find it very difficult to develop self-confidence in any area of life. They are by nature shy, withdrawn and lack a real belief in their abilities. Yet, it is possible, and necessary, for every person to work on their confidence level so they can achieve the focus of their desires.

Self-confidence is an emotional force and therefore must be controlled and used. It is the same with anger, love, hate, passion, worry and other emotions that, if not controlled, can cause us great damage. At the same time, we cannot live without these emotions in our lives. They are like fire, when used and controlled, fire brings heat, cooks food, develops energy and more. Out of control and misused, fire is one of the most destructive forces on the planet. Fire has destroyed cities, taken countless lives and left total destruction in its path. Self-confidence that is not controlled and misused will lead to egotism, pride and emotional destruction. Self-confidence controlled and rightly used will lead to success, service and the fulfillment of life.

There are two distinct areas where we can deliberately and properly develop self-confidence. These areas are Physical, and Mental.

Building Confidence: Physical
"The more we do, the more we can do." - William Hazlitt
One of the best lessons I have learned from Tony Robbins is this: "Motion creates emotion". How we move and act has a great deal to do with the way we feel and present ourselves. This is a powerful truth for those who grasp it and use it. It will affect your health, your appearance and your attitudes.
Of the things I love to do, one of the best is to watch people in public places. I think that God must have hours and hours of entertainment just watching His creation. One of the things that can be quickly noticed is how people feel by how they hold themselves. People who are depressed, angry or burdened down with life tend to be slumped over, they walk slow and look down. Many will have a scowl on their face and avoid any contact with their fellow human beings.
On the other hand, people who are more positive and feeling good, tend to walk straight up with a bit of a swagger in their step. They move quicker and have a smile for everyone they come across. These people give the impression that they are happy to be wherever they find themselves.
Here is a test for you. Sit in a chair all by yourself. Let your shoulders fall and slump over a bit. Allow your breathing to be slow and shallow and look down toward the floor. Let the muscles in your face relax and frown. After a few moments take note of these things: 1) how do you feel? 2) what are you thinking about, positive or negative things? 3) are you happy or sad?
Part two: Now sit up straight and tall. Keep your eyes forward, breath deep and at a steady pace. Shake your arms and put them on your hips as if you were Peter pan and put a big smile on your face. Ask the same questions: 1) how do you feel? 2) what are you thinking about, positive or negative things? 3) are you happy or sad?
Most people will find that they feel their best, think their best and act their best when they have good posture and act in a pleasant fashion.

Look at successful people you may know. How do they move? When they are talking, what do they do? Remember that success leaves clues. You can learn a lot about success and self-confidence by watching successful and self-confident people and doing what they do.
Using movement and gestures will not just happen to you. It is a very deliberate action that will require you to pay close attention to what you do and a determination to act. Ask yourself this question: "If I were the successful person I desire to be, how would I move? How would I breath, talk, look at people and present myself?" Now, start to do that. Is this a fake it till you make it thing? Yes it is. Before you knock it try it. Dale Carnegie built his whole philosophy of public speaking on the this principle. He taught his students that they needed to act the part before they lived the part. You will find it works. If you do not want to act that way till you feel it you will stay just as you are. Decision is always yours.
"Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy." - Dr. Norman Vincent Peale

To read more from John Patrick Hickey or to get his books, training and book him to speak to your church, business or group, visit our website at or