How to become more confident

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When I started my first company, I was lucky enough to get my first clients quickly. They were only little but essential to survive and to develop the business.

After about six months, I was able to get the first larger potential client on the line — someone who could bring the business to an entirely new level.

In our first meeting, he seemed to be impressed with what I had to offer and asked if I would mind coming back the next day for another meeting with some of his associates. I happily agreed and was looking forward to this. The next day I arrived at their office, and the secretary asked me to wait for a moment.

When she came back, she invited me to join her boss in the conference room. When I walked in, I couldn’t believe it. There were about 60 people in the room all eagerly waiting for some presentation. I nearly died. That was not what I was expecting. I was not prepared for this. I started shaking, and everything in my head went wild.
I don’t want to drag this out, but I didn’t get the contract. I wasn’t ready for this.

Time to start learning

After the initial shock period, I decided that this should never happen again, and I’ve put on top of my list the note: “Learn to become more confident!

During my research into confidence, I met some great and very confident people. They always knew what to do and how to do it. They never started shaking or running away. I was hooked. I wanted to become like them. I took every opportunity I could find to talk to them. What I found out struck me at first, but after thinking it over, it made real sense. Let me condense it down to these points:

Don’t make anything about yourself!

The main reason why some of us panic in such situations is that we are worried about what others might think of us. Because we believe that we can’t do it, we see ourselves as the main reason why it will fail. Confident people don’t see themselves as the problem but as a facilitator for the solution.

Don’t know what you’re talking about!

If you went over your head and you’re put on the spot, it’s difficult to be confident. We either freak out and try to get away, or we start lying, which usually makes it all worse.

Don’t believe you must have all the answers!

Confident people are not know-it-alls. They are very good at finding things out and asking the right questions. That takes the spotlight away from the person onto the problem to be solved. It doesn’t mean they don’t know their stuff, but they don’t feel pressured and they don’t mind if the answer comes from someone else.

It’s often a question of trust. The belief in yourself that the answer and solution will come to you if it’s needed. It’s not about having all the answers but the willingness to find the answer.

Moving confidently – step by step

I started my confidence program with little steps. I would put myself into slightly difficult situations and see how I deal with it. I would, for example, go and sit at a table with strangers for lunch to strike up a conversation. If I could get a 2-minute conversation out of it and could leave without freaking out – I would call it a success.

Because they were strangers, I couldn’t prepare for anything but had to trust myself to come up with something based on the situation. After a while, I got better at this. I became more confident.

In the end, it’s about deciding to change yourself to become more confident and then take small steps towards it. After about six months, I felt confident enough to go back to the initial client and ask for another chance. Six months earlier, I would have never been able to do this. I didn’t get the full contract, but I got in. I learned that it wasn’t about me, but about his solution.

What do you do to become more confident?

John Di Stefano

An entrepreneur at heart and founder of the Entrepreneur Academy in Brussels, Belgium. He is teaching and supporting entrepreneurs in the skills every entrepreneur needs to create a better life for themselves and the people around them.

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