Greasing the Path to Leadership Success: A Definitive Guide


Whether it’s making a prospecting call to a promising business contact, giving an informal “elevator speech” to a networking group, or attempting to close a transaction, there are certain key moments when putting your best-dressed foot forward really matters. Some of life’s fortunate people seem to be naturally at their best finding confidence under pressure. The rest of us have to learn.

Confidence matters.

Few would argue that developing confidence is a good investment. You’ll be more comfortable and therefore more motivated in your marketing efforts. It’s difficult to sustain an effort over the long haul – a requirement, for successful networking and marketing – if we’re miserable doing it. Furthermore, marketing and branding experts tell us that confidence is the #1 reason people buy what they buy. Where do they get confidence to try the product or service for the first time? From you, from your confidence in what you offer.

Confidence on command.

Let’s say you have to make an outreach call to someone who can potentially refer you business. Stomach butterflies are on a rampage. You’ve scripted the call, but your voice is still flat with anxiety. How do you suddenly summon confidence? Confidence is like one of the body’s involuntary muscles. You can’t make it fire on command. It either fires or it doesn’t. But the smaller muscles around it, contributing to its tone and strength, are voluntary. You can help yourself build confidence by doing the small things. You probably already have a repertoire of quick-fix confidence-builders that work for you. From my years of helping people grow, here are some of my favorites.

  • Practice
  • Talk about your product or service, with strangers as well as acquaintances. Do it again.
  • Do it frequently, whether “successful” or not. Keep the interval between short.
  • Don’t let being awkward stop you
  • Create a temporary “no fault” zone, where you goal is to do it, not do it right.
  • Remember: the pool of potential contacts is infinite. There’s plenty of room for practice.
  • Let timing help
  • Capitalize on confident or successful moments to create more of them.
  • There will be days when you’re under a cloud. Don’t try then. Letting yourself off the hook today breeds confidence that tomorrow will be better.
  • Tough love
  • Act “as if”
  • Just do it
  • Protect your environment from negativity: call a temporary moratorium on friends or family who may be envious or skeptical of your endeavor
  • Seek inspiration
  • Rub shoulders with someone who has exuberant confidence in you
  • Read some inspiring quotations
  • Read testimonials from your own clients
  • Watch a squirrel leap through space from a secure branch to an untested one
  • Quit being mean
  • Make a quick list on paper of the 5 confidence-sabotaging voices in your head. Quote them verbatim, and give each one a name.
  • Send them all out for a beer, and while they’re gone, make the call

All of these suggestions are simple and even simple-minded. They’re ways to develop the internal muscles that in turn will support the success we’re reaching for. After all, if you’re to grow into a new level of success, you will need more than good ideas and hard work. You’ll need the internal muscles to support it. Confidence is one of those qualities that can seem to vary with the weather. Very few of us are born for success any more than we’re born to bench press three hundred pounds.

For most, the daily work-outs, coupled with an attitude that gives generous credit for perseverance, are what qualify us to have that golden ring. I’m cheering for you!

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