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3. How to Be Confident with People

Learning to Feel Comfortable with Others


"Confidence in oneself is the cornerstone to success. It is difficult for those who don't believe in themselves to have much faith in anyone else." -- John C. Maxwell

Do you remember the children's book The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper? This was one of my favorite books growing up, and it remains an inspiration to me today.

As the story goes, there was a little train filled with wonderful toys and treats for little boys and girls, but when it came to a mountain, it suddenly stopped and could go no further. There was something wrong with the engine!

The toys ask several passing engines for help to get over the mountain, but each engine, despite its qualifications to help, refuses to do anything for the little train.

Then came a little blue engine, small as can be. When the toys asked her to pull them over the mountain to the waiting boys and girls, she replied, "I am not very big. And I do not pull trains. I just work in the yards; I've never even been over the mountain."

But the Little Blue Engine looked at the toys and treats and thought about the children on the other side would be missing out if the train didn't make it to the other side. She pulled up close, took hold of the little train, and said, "I think I can climb up the mountain. I think I can. I think I can."

The Little Blue Engine began to pull, and slowly, the train started to move! The Little Blue Engine went up the mountain, all the while saying, "I think I can. I think I can."

At last, she reached the top of the mountain, with the city lying below. "The boys and girls will be so happy," cried the toys, "all because you helped us, Little Blue Engine."

The Little Blue Engine just smiled and puffed down the other side of the mountain, saying, "I thought I could. I thought I could."

So why is confidence so important to your success?

The first reason is that confidence offers stability in your life. John Maxwell equates confidence with contentment, which he defines as "taking your present situation -- whatever obstacles you are facing, whatever limitation you are living with, whatever chronic condition wears you down, whatever has smashed your dreams, whatever factors and circumstances in life tend to push you under -- and admitting you don't like it, but never saying 'I can't cope with it'." In other words, contentment is having the confidence that you measure up to any test you face. When you fall into despair and defeat, your life becomes unstable.

The second reason is that confidence stretches you. People who lack confidence rarely stretch because they are unwilling to take risks. In a previous installment, I discussed the Law of the Rubber Band. John brings that analogy back by saying, "When insecurity keeps us from stretching and growing, we end up with a life that is as unexciting and useless as a limp rubber band."

The third reason is that confidence makes you a better people person because confidence is contagious and helps you to believe in others. John writes, "Insecure people are afraid to risk building up others with compliments because they are constantly in need of compliments themselves." But a person with confidence is a person who brings out positive changes in people!

So how can you boost your confidence?

Acknowledge Your Value

Confidence does not mean that you have an inflated view of yourself, but it does mean that you recognize your value. Do you know that you have value? If you don't acknowledge that you have genuine value and are capable beyond what you might feel, you will never grow in your confidence. You cannot consistently perform in a manner inconsistent with how you see yourself.

Remember to grow through your circumstances

Confidence does not result from an absence of problems; instead, it results from growing through those problems. Next time you find yourself in the midst of a circumstance that could shake your confidence, remind yourself that you have the opportunity to change and grow through that experience.

Develop Friendships with Confident People

There will always be someone around to remind you of what you aren't, haven't been, and never will be, but if you want to be confident, you must surround yourself with confident people who believe in you and are willing to encourage you.

“Security is mostly superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring

adventure or nothing. ” — Helen Keller

Quit Comparing Yourself with Others

Comparisons will always leave you feeling wanting or cause you to look down on someone else. Confidence means that you can recognize your unique contribution and strengths regardless of your expectations or the expectations of others. As a person of growth, your objective is to be better today than you were yesterday, which you can have confidence in!

Remember Your Past Successes

Did you know remembering how you've succeeded in the past will improve your ability to succeed again? Confidence that you can overcome and grow through challenges often comes from experience. You did it before, so you can do it again!

Develop Your Strengths

As a people, we are often far too consumed with fixing our weaknesses or flaws rather than focusing on what is "right" with us! But what effect do you think that negative focus has on your confidence? Instead, if you focus on and develop what you do well, you will build your confidence, be more successful, and be able to recognize and encourage others to do the same.

This week, consider these six ways to build your confidence:

  1. Acknowledge your value.

  2. Remember to grow through your circumstances.

  3. Develop friendships with confident people.

  4. Quit comparing yourself with others.

  5. Remember your past successes.

  6. Develop your strengths.

Which of these six areas do you struggle with the most? What action can you take this week to boost your confidence in one of these areas?

Which of these six areas do you do well? How does that success increase your confidence?

How can you intentionally help someone in your circle increase their confidence?

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