5 Simple Ways to Give Yourself Amazing Confidence

How much do you believe in yourself? For most of the answer is: not enough. Instead of looking proudly at our accomplishments, we focus on the things we haven’t yet done, and on the mistakes we’ve made. No wonder we find it hard to pitch big clients and investors, sell ourselves as the best, or demand the pay we deserve.

The problem is that many of us take an unrealistically negative view of ourselves and our work, says executive coach and bestselling author Wendy Capland. “We teeter between thinking ‘I’m not enough,’ and ‘I’m not even ready to be enough,'” she says. 

But we don’t have to stay there. There are simple things we all can do to get a more clear-eyed–and positive–view of ourselves and our accomplishments. And then, Capland says, “We can step into who we already are.”

Here are some simple techniques that work well for Capland’s clients, and for Capland herself. Try them next time you need to increase your own confidence:

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Sometimes we need help remembering how great we really are. Here’s how to get it.

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Help, I Need Somebody (at the Office)

More than 15 years ago, I attended a workshop facilitated by Daniel Pink. He was explaining how businesspeople can thrive as free agents, and he stressed the importance of getting comfortable with asking for help. At the time, I was a free agent myself, and although I was already used to seeking help occasionally, Pink’s advice gave me the confidence to make it a more regular part of doing business. And he was right: Asking for and receiving help is critical to success. Over the past 18 years, I’ve been able to road-test my coaching model, receive referrals, secure endorsements, apply the wisdom of others to enhance my work and refine my skills, and secure a series of writing gigs, including an unsolicited contract to write a book — all thanks in large part to the generosity of others.

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There’s power in asking for help in a world full of people longing for connection.

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Are You a Dysfunctional Leader?

Few things are as damaging to an organization as a dysfunctional leader. Left unaddressed, the corrosive impact will show up in low morale, stifled development and poor results. Sadly, most toxic leaders are blithely oblivious of the damage they create. If the slackers would just do their jobs, they think, performance would go up.

Leaders come in all kinds of styles and dispositions ranging from tyrants to wimps. What follows are five signs of a dysfunctional leader and tips any leader can use to become more functional.

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Following these tips will help turn dysfunctional leaders into functional leaders.

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The Invisible Skills That Are Crucial To Success

If someone asked you to list your skill set, you probably wouldn’t mention the fact that you show up for work every day. But Jon Acuff, author of Do Over: Rescue Monday, Reinvent Your Work, and Never Get Stuck, says you should rethink your definition of skills and recognize that the small things like showing up are often the “invisible” things that contribute most to your success.

“Most people think of the word ‘skills’ too narrowly, assuming that it means a subject you’ve earned a degree in, or bullet points you can list on a resume,” he says. “But skills are more than that. Your employer expects you to be at work every day, for example, and if you Google, ‘why do people get fired,’ absenteeism is on every list.”

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You should rethink your definition of skills: the small, often invisible, things contribute most to your success.

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The Difficult Art of Saying No

The 19th century humorist Josh Billings once said, “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

Business guru Seth Godin said no to me last week.

One of my fellow entrepreneurs who follows this column has told me over the years I should meet Seth; that we shared a simpatico trope and were fellow travelers. So I sent Seth Godin an email inviting him for a cup of coffee. Here is his reply.

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Overcommitment can be an act of self-sabotage.

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76 Percent of Employees Are More Productive When They Leave the Office

Want your employees to get more done? Tell them to make themselves scarce. That’s the disturbing finding of a new survey by FlexJobs, an online service for professionals seeking flexible or telecommuting jobs.

Of the 2,600 employees who answered the survey, only 24 percent reported getting their best work done at the office during business hours. The rest said they were most productive nearly anywhere else. Fifty percent said they did their best work at home, 12 percent preferred a coffee shop, library, or other public space over the office, and 14 percent said they could be productive at the office — but only outside business hours, when everyone else was gone.

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Why your team gets more done when they’re not around.

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The Secret to Sounding Smart? Using Simple Language

It might sound counterintuitive, but using four-syllable textbook words to demonstrate your smarts will actually make you appear less capable.

“So often, our intuitions about what will impress others are wrong,” says Daniel M. Oppenheimer, professor of psychology at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. He led a series of studies on how the use of language can make one appear more or less intelligent.

In one study, the researchers took essays from online college admissions essays and replaced words using an algorithm to replace shorter words with longer words and asked participants to evaluate the quality of the author. Surprisingly, participants rated the authors as less capable and less confident. Concerned that the replacement strategy used made the essays worse, the researchers took sociology dissertation abstracts, which tend to be dense in long words, and replaced the longer words with shorter words. Participants judged the authors as more capable and intelligent if they were reading shorter words.

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Put down the thesaurus: Using big words actually makes you appear less capable.

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