Issue Number 9: Leadership and Calm Confidence

How do you project an image of calm confidence if you are feeling neither calm nor confident? The words of Henry Ford, the founder of the Ford motor company, who revolutionized American industry through the introduction of assembly lines and mass production, have rung true for me: “Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right.”

Try this. Select an activity you enjoy and think about how you feel while you are engaged in that activity. We usually enjoy doing things in which we are skilled, and demonstrating that skill gives us a sense of confidence. That confidence in turn provides us with a sense of calm, because we know in spite of challenges we might encounter, we are likely to succeed.

Now pick a situation in which you do not feel confident. Examine what is preventing you from believing you can succeed in that situation, and what you need to do the remove that obstacle. Ask yourself: “What is the worst thing that can happen?”

Do not pick end-of-the-world scenarios. Be reasonable. If you are afraid of public speaking because you might be asked a question you cannot answer, prepare a list of possible questions and answers in advance, along with an “escape” line like: “Thank you – that is an excellent question! I’m not sure off the top of my head what the answer is, but if you can give me your card at the end of my presentation, I’ll find the answer for you.”

If you can handle the worst thing that can happen, you can handle anything short of it. It does not mean that you won’t be embarrassed, but I do not know anyone who actually died of embarrassment. I do, however, know a few who made themselves sick worrying about things that never happened.

Remember – the best way to escape from a problem is to solve it.

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