Help Yourself: Don't Sell Yourself Short
Have you ever met that person who always seems to fall on their feet? You know the type: They land the perfect job, score amazing deals, meet the perfect partner and live a fairytale life. Everything just seems to fall into place.
Ever wondered why? Two words: optimism and enthusiasm.
Quite simply, these people create their own fate by reaping what they sow. They exude positive energy, which attracts other positive people to them. This in turn opens doors and creates even more opportunities.
My life’s journey thus far has been filled with many such opportunities that I have always grabbed with both hands and run with. As a risk-taker, I would rather take a chance on an adventure into the unknown than live a life of “what-if” regrets.
If I think about the turning point at each pivotal intersection of my life, it was preceded by three defining moments.
The first is a definitive revelation that this particular event is something I am meant to do. I’m not talking about a “that would be nice” moment, but a genuine and heartfelt commitment that I was born to do this. It is going to happen.
The second is to totally and absolutely believe, without a shadow of a doubt, that this opportunity is mine for the taking. That the experience, knowledge and path that led me to this point makes me the most qualified candidate for this particular role.
The third is to sell myself to the deciding parties with a level of self-confidence and commitment that makes them truly believe the same thing.
Now, there is a very big difference between feeling self-confident and believing in yourself, to crossing the line into being narcissistic, egotistical and unrealistic.
There is nothing wrong with stretching yourself for improvement and advancement. However, you need to have a clear understanding of your abilities and keep within your limitations.
Self-confidence and enthusiasm can have a positive impact on every single area of your life, none more so than your career. Whether you’re currently employed, seeking new opportunities, or run your own business, a positive attitude and healthy self-esteem will drastically improve your prospects. So how do you begin? Try these five steps.
Understand your value proposition. It’s one thing to be able to verbalize the things you think you’re good at; it’s another to be able to document and quantify them. Get a whiteboard or blank piece of paper and start writing down all of your skills. Then categorize them into core competency categories such as communication, technical, administration, operational, finance and so on. Next, add your key achievements under each category—things that give weight and substance to your self-evaluation. Having this knowledge top-of-mind will allow you to talk about your strengths with clarity and conviction, thereby building your self-esteem. That in turn will create credibility and confidence with others.
Believe in yourself. If you’re a “glass is half empty” person, it’s very likely you’ll project that image about yourself to others too. Building self-esteem and confidence is no different than improving any other issues in life, such as health and fitness. It doesn’t happen overnight; you have to work at it consistently and continually.
Develop positive thinking patterns that focus on the things you’re good at. When you catch yourself having negative thoughts, make a conscious decision to change what you’re thinking about. Better still, think of positive ways that you can change, or fix the thing you’re not happy about.
Know when you’re likely to be negative and control it. For me, it’s when I’m fatigued after business travel. I’ll catch myself in a downward spiral and then think, “You’re tired. You’re not thinking rationally now. These feelings aren’t real.” That diffuses the situation psychologically and allows me to move past it. Always look for the gold!
Don’t compromise your integrity. The easiest way to drag yourself down is to do something that compromises your integrity. I once worked for a company that made a commitment to its clients, then went back on its word after they had all invested heavily in changing their business model. After countless sleepless nights, I decided I had to speak my mind, and in the end I walked away from the position. It was a tough decision, but I left with my integrity intact.
Remember that an organization can have good will, but you also maintain your own personal brand equity. A good reputation takes years to build and only seconds to destroy. Don’t compromise it for anyone
Surround yourself with other positive people. Ever heard the phrase “misery loves company”? Negativity is a downward spiral that creates depression and quashes opportunity. If you surround yourself with people who are always talking doom and gloom, you’ll become the same way (if you aren’t already). It’s no different than a recovering alcoholic hanging out with other alcoholics. If you want to kick the habit, you must surround yourself with people who project character traits that mirror what you want to be. There have been people in my life that I have made a conscious decision to cut ties with—not because I didn’t like them, but because I didn’t like the person I became when I was around them.
You will notice two things start to happen as you become more positive and self-confident. First, you will find yourself feeling uncomfortable in the company of negative people, even if they have been great friends for years. Second, new people will start to come into your life from seemingly nowhere—people who share your confidence and passion. That’s your positive energy kicking in, drawing other like-minded people towards you.
Don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself. If you find yourself in a rut, get out of your comfort zone. I love doing so; it’s probably the reason I’ve moved all over the world. None of my opportunities would have presented themselves if I hadn’t made a conscious decision to reinvent myself along the way. I’m not necessarily talking about entire career changes (although I have done that too), more about expanding your area of expertise and then refining and honing the new skills you have gained to make yourself stand out from the crowd.
Look for voids and needs within companies, business relationships and even entire industries. Think about how they relate to the core competencies and knowledge you have acquired.
Whiteboard a strategy that aligns the opportunity with your skills, and then look for areas for further self-improvement to create the perfect fit. Chances are, not only has no one else thought of it, but no one else has better prepared themselves to take on the challenge.
As I mentioned earlier, becoming a positive thinker is the same as developing health and fitness. Make a conscious decision to change the way you live your life, then commit to it and stick with it. In the same way that food and exercise impact our physical health, so too do the thoughts we harbor impact our mental health. This should not be taken lightly.
If you would like to be that person who always falls on their feet, then do something about it. Make that conscious decision to change your thought process to become a positive-minded, self-confident person—one who attracts opportunity and builds success around himself or herself.
Hear that? That’s not opportunity knocking. It’s you opening the door and drawing it in. TI