THE ABILITY to think on one’s feet and make quick, clear decisions – then stick to them – is a desirable quality in a leader. As long as they’re getting it right more than wrong, people admire them, draw strength from their confidence – and secretly want to be like them. What’s their secret? Well, it’s not that they know more, but rather that they trust themselves more.
When will you get that there is no right answer, and that people will more quickly follow an answer given with confidence than the right answer? They trust the answer not because it’s right but because they trust the person giving it with such force: they assume this person will be able to carry it through, make it happen. Even if they reason it out, the reason will justify what their gut tells them: to follow the strong person. The movie The Iron Lady provides a fine example of this in its protrayal of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, whose resolve far outweighed that of any of the men around her.
This type of confidence cannot be faked. People are responding at a gut level and you cannot bypass that with techniques and tricks. It has to be established at the level of being – it has to be a natural habit, your natural fall-back point. If you don’t have that, how do you develop it? The usual response it to study and learn more. If I’m smarter and more experienced then I’ll be more confident. The problem is, the vessel for all that knowledge is still the same, insecure vessel. There are vessels out there with much less knowledge than you, and yet greater confidence – confidence that makes people want to follow them.
Give yourself a time limit for any decision, then make the best decision you can and write down three good reasons why this is the right decision.
Confidence is the container, and it can be developed and strengthened independently of knowledge, skill or experience. The only experience you need is experience in making decisions with confidence. You need to practice that, standing on nothing but the decision itself, and remaining aware of your belief system while you’re doing it. This is tricky, because the mind is quick to return to its old habits, to rip the carpet out from under the decision, to cause doubt. It always comes with a wave of convincing arguments, none of which are true until you agree with them.
Here is a simple practice to develop confidence in your own decisions: Give yourself a time limit for any decision, then make the best decision you can and write down three good reasons why this is the right decision. When you begin to doubt yourself, come back to those three arguments and make them true, just because you say so. Deal with the fear that comes up, rather than give in to it.
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