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The key to success: confidence

Whether asking for a raise, presenting in front of a large group, or taking on a complicated project confidence is the key to success

No motivational pompoms here.  I’m a ‘show me the proof’ kinda girl. I don’t fall for fluff. Blame it on my New York/New England cynicism. I want the data, the research, the visible causes and effects.

That’s why I left a successful CMO career to become a v. I could not ignore the interpersonal impact I witnessed or the scientific proof that confirmed it. I have no doubts that anyone can train their brain to be more confident.

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For 20+ years, I curiously read and conducted research to figure out why some people are more confident than others.  I admit it was more than a hobby – it was my competitive mission. I wanted to bottle the potion and drink it myself, give it to my children and to those that I managed at work. I wanted to piece together a complex, perhaps even frameless puzzle that for me, was in fact, the secret to a good life:  the holy grail of having it all based on my own, healthy terms.  The more I dug, the more I confirmed: confidence is more valuable than any asset.  It is what gives athletes a high-performance edge. For all of us, confidence gives us an ability to achieve by having more focus, resilience, and personal control. Confidence helps us keep perspective and be mindful of our priorities.  It helps us maintain just enough self-compassion and humility that we can learn from failures and persevere for the right, values-based reasons.

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We know now that confidence is a thought. It’s not a feeling or state of being and it’s not something you inherit. It is a conscious thought – in fact, a conscientious thought – psychologists call it a metacognitive thought  – a thought about a thought.  Therefore, you actually decide if you are confident about something.

The brain ‘thinks’ it has ultimate control but science tells us otherwise. Eastern medicine and philosophy has challenged this for 3000+ years.  Whatever you want to call it: Qi, Chakra, God or fate, we hold a higher-level control of our brains, behaviors and bodies – and now we have the western science to prove it.

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Think of it this way: you have superadmin mental traffic control – meaning, you can direct your brain to follow and land in a ‘confidence’ neural pathway.  If you consistently think confidently, eventually you will go there first rather than default to think that you cannot do something or do it well.  No more imposter syndrome –  a well-trained, superpower brain automatically thinks if anyone can do it, so can you.

Training your brain is like any cognitive behavioral therapy or behavioral change process.  You start with awareness.  This helps you figure out what your values are and how to apply them to areas in your life that you can and should control. At American Confidence Institute, we found that there are 8 Key Confidence Indicators (KCIs) that help structure thinking by identifying the every day things in our lives that when controlled, boost confidence.  Like Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that help monitor a business, KCIs help monitor your state of well-being. Plotting the KCIs on a Personal Confidence Dashboard hones in on what’s in good shape and what’s not. It makes it visually easy to figure out what area needs attention at that time. The problem spots can be rectified by applying small win actions, clear success metrics and easy accountability methods. With these simple tools and techniques, anyone can quickly and consistently boost their overall confidence.  It’s pretty amazing.

more confidence at work.jpgOne woman told me that after 7 years in the same job and pay level, she was empowered to confidently ask for a raise and got it.  Another follower tells me he starts every day envisioning his own Confidence Dashboard to self-diagnose and fix whatever might otherwise side rail his day’s success.  After a recent keynote, a teenager told me she’s grateful for the wisdom that helped her know early in her life. She promised to not lose perspective of her own gifts and values among her seemingly perfect ‘selfie-esteemed’ social media friends.

I am extremely blessed to have figured this out for myself and know it’s my calling to share this with others – especially with people who are confidently cynical!  The reality is that EVERYONE needs more confidence. And ANYONE can learn to get more confidence – that is, anyone who is growth minded and willing to think about thinking!


Thad is a senior marketing director at PI.

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