By YEC Women
Building confidence is a daily habit that every entrepreneur needs to incorporate into their routine. It can be easy to listen to that inner voice and recognize your faults over your accomplishments. Having the proper amount of self-esteem is necessary to perform as a business owner, and you need to learn how to silence the critic that seems to take over your mind at times.
There are a variety of techniques that you can employ to increase your self-confidence, from good posture to a sharp outfit, according to a report by Pick The Brain. These tips can help you focus on the task at hand instead of your shortcomings, making you a more effective leader and business owner.
Below, nine members of Young Entrepreneur Council share their favorite activities for building confidence. Here is what they recommend:
1. Improv Classes
Improv classes can greatly cut down on your inner critic (“What if I look like an idiot?” “What if no one laughs?”). Having to not only think on your feet — a great skill for entrepreneurs — but also present those thoughts in a cohesive way will be greatly valued as you grow your business.
Putting yourself in uncomfortable situations in front of strangers will only help you gain confidence in your presentation skills. Early in my business, I would often be in meetings where new questions that I had never thought of were being thrown at me. Instead of sweating and fretting, I was able to communicate calmly and enthusiastically that I would be able to get back to them with answers. Signing up for improv classes helped me to live out the motto of, “never let them see you sweat!” – Kim Kaupe, ZinePak
I find that practicing meditation and clearing my mind works best for silencing my inner critic. It’s difficult at first, but if you keep at it, you’ll get better with time and start noticing that your mind is so clear that if a negative thought comes in, it feels out of place. Sometimes before giving a speech in front of a large crowd, I’ll get nervous and notice my heart pacing fast, so I will focus on taking deep and slow breaths to bring my heart back to a normal, relaxed pace. When the rhythm of my heart is steady, my whole body is relaxed. – Syed Balkhi, OptinMonster
3. Ten Unique Ideas, Every Single Day
From “10 things that are better than staying home all day,” to “10 old ideas that I can make new all over again,” to “10 industries that I can remove the middleman from,” I make sure to write 10 ideas inside my bullet journal every single night. It doesn’t matter if I’m having a great day or a terrible day.
This one exercise encourages my brain to get over the fear of coming up with bad ideas and pushes me to think beyond the ordinary. There are a lot of speed bumps along the way, but when I look at the future log in my bullet journal and see the big picture, I realize that I’m still relatively on track. So I do the best that I can to continue coming up with ideas, no matter where I am. These ideas actually do come in handy! – Cody McLain, SupportNinja
4. A ‘Good Feelings’ Folder
Each time someone praises my work, I add their comments to my “good feelings” folder. I’ve got everything in there, from one-line emails to book reviews. Whenever I feel less than confident in my own abilities, I read through the folder.
Personally, knowing that other people think good of my work is really reassuring. This strategy does require keeping an eye out for people saying nice things about your work. You may be surprised by how many examples you find — our inner voices are good at replaying criticism and keeping it fresh, but not so great at reminding us of praise. – Thursday Bram, The Responsible Communication Style Guide
5. Public Speaking
I was at a large agency working with top brands online, and I was asked to be an adjunct professor in SEO at NYU. As a non-native English speaker, I was nervous about my presentation, but it was one of the best things I have done. Public speaking and teaching seminars diversified my business, allowing me to build my own boutique agency and an SEO academy.
My inner critic was my spoken and written voice. The more I use both, in the form of seminars, lectures, and videos, in addition to two books with incredible editors, the stronger a public speaker and writer I become. I am able to offer my clients much more of myself and my products, and my accent has not stopped me. I use my narrative as a lesson in how to silence the inner critic now and celebrate the diversity. – Matthew Capala, Search Decoder
6. Mantras For The Entrepreneur
I was having a discussion with some founders, and we were talking about the mantras we tell ourselves when the going gets tough. Two of mine are, “No one can steal my peace without my permission,” and, “Help or get out of the way.” These two have kept me calm and moving at a successful speed over the years.
For instance, when someone is rude or dismissive of me in business, because of the former mantra, I simply let their behavior and opinions be, and move along. I don’t take it personally. The latter, “Help or get out of the way,” is helpful because I like to listen, but ultimately, the work just needs to get done. I know where I am going and whose advice I need. Everybody else can either help or get out of the way! What do you need to hear today to give you a better tomorrow? – Rebecca Devaney, Hunter Creative Labs
7. More Reading And Writing
There is nothing that can make someone feel more confident than mastering the ability to understand their inner thoughts and express those thoughts to others. Reading challenging literature will help you understand abstract concepts and expand your vocabulary, helping you to define the world around you. Practicing these new terms and concepts by writing for leisure in your spare time will help reinforce this new skill, and will improve your ability to communicate.
Taking a public speaking course can be helpful for, well, public speaking, but it doesn’t guarantee you will be able to say anything interesting or insightful. Speaking skills are almost worthless without some knowledge backing it up, which is why reading and writing regularly can improve your confidence exponentially. – Bryce Welker, Beat The CPA
8. Making Lists
Making lists has always worked to help me recognize patterns and behaviors that have a negative impact on my personal or professional life. My process involves creating a list of criticisms I’ve weighed against myself, coupled with complaints I’ve received from partners or peers. I then spend time internalizing these criticisms and try to discern whether or not these elements can be improved upon, or whether they’re personality traits that would otherwise be difficult to change.
I try not to fault myself for behaviors that are intrinsically a part of who I am as an owner and an individual, and instead focus on those aspects I can truly correct for the betterment of myself, my company, and my colleagues. Just be careful not to over-analyze; work towards improvement, not perfection. – Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker
9. Jamming Out
Whenever I’m in need of a confidence boost, I turn up the music. There’s something about singing and dancing that creates energy and loosens you up. Generally, low confidence is related to low energy. So the first step is getting your blood flowing. I don’t care if it’s the crack of dawn, a good tune can make all the difference in the world. Singing your favorite power anthem really helps. They say it’s not the Air Jordans that made Michael Jordan fly. While that may be true, Air Jordans are like music: confidence boosting. And when you’re playing at the top of your game, you need all you can get! – Robby Berthume, Bull & Beard
Appeared in Forbes.com