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How many times have we heard we need to be confident? We hear it all the time, right? And it is amazing at how often we let self doubt creep into our thoughts.

In sales, you are either an order taker or a rain maker. Every day, I work at marketing for new business. I have many wonderful clients but none of them sought me out. I had to make the first contact. I am responsible to make the rain.

I would estimate that 95% of my success is based on having confidence.

And when I am not confident? Here’s what happens: I fiddle with email. I pay bills. I check out a news article. I fiddle with more email…man, I really look at email. And I don’t call on people. Why? I see danger! I expect to hear ‘no.’ And it can paralyze me.

I recently watched a great interview. PBS’ Charlie Rose is one of the finest interviewers in the world. I love to listen to his broadcasts because of the amazing guests he speaks with…and, if for nothing else, to hear the phrasing and vocabulary of the guests he welcomes to his table, a round oak table that has to be the most famous table on television.

Rose’s guest that night was Magnus Carlsen, the Norwegian chess wunderkind. Magnus is the highest ranked chess player in history, having earned a higher rating than the legendary Gary Kasparov. In fact, Magnus was 13 years old when he played Kasparov to a tie in a game of speed chess!  Magnus earned the world’s number one ranking at age 19, the youngest ever.

Chess is a fascinating sport. It is said that in chess, especially at the highest levels, the goal is not just to win but to demolish your opponent. There is an enjoyment in seeing the opponent suffer. It is war!

Magnus Carlsen had this to say about confidence:

“It’s always better to be overly confident than to be pessimistic. If you are not looking for your chances, you are going to miss opportunities.”

And this gem: “There have been many players in history that have been immensely talented but they are too pessimistic, they see too many dangers that are not there….”

There are several great ideas in these statements.

First, if you are not very, very confident, you are going to miss opportunities.   Oh, I hate to miss opportunities, don’t you? This statement really challenged me. This week, there will be challenges that I can pursue and opportunities for success if I am confident.

Have you ever let an opportunity pass because of your fear of failure? We all have, of course. To combat this, you need to remember your past successes. Think of the customers you already have, of the great dates you went on. Think about athletic success or a high score you achieved on a test or getting a degree.

We need to build on these successes to help us develop a high level of confidence.

A second great point : too many of us see danger where there is none.  Ouch! This hit me right between the eyes. Too many times I act like Chicken Little: the sky is falling!  I end up giving into the voices in my head that tell me I cannot succeed.

But this can easily happen to the best of us if we do not get ourselves into a state of high confidence.

What we should do: Practice our skills, develop a super confident demeanor and then go pick a fight!

What we too often do:  We worry, we don’t practice our skills and then we worry some more.

In fact, right now, get out a pen and paper and do these three things.

  1. Write down the skill set you need to successfully win new business.

  2. In big bold letters, write down what you need to do to put yourself in an overly confident mindset.

  3. Pick your target.

One of the last comments Magnus said in his interview is that you must have an “…absolute belief that you are the best and that you will win every time.”  He said at first he lost using this philosophy because he would often overestimate his chances. But when his playing strength came up to his optimism, “…it became a very good thing.”

Ooooooohhhh….I love that. He set his confidence very high and then had to work to get his skill to rise to the same level!

We should all have that mentality of trying to run before we can walk. The lesson here again is to practice and go for it now! Ready, fire…aim!

Learn to be as confident as you can without being cocky!


Image: ** Lucky Cavey **

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