“If you have self-determination and self effort, no one can keep you from manifesting your true destiny” (Chin-Ning Chu, 1992, Thick Face, Black Heart)
Having conviction that you make the difference, that what you think, what you know and who you are matters is a key element of empowerment and critical to contributing to powerful collaborations. You are not a passenger being buoyed by the brilliance of others; you add to the collective brilliance and without you the whole would be somehow diminished. That is the impression high conviction gives. You ooze confidence, which, in turn, raises the confidence others have in you.
The following figure illustrates that conviction is a function of your locus of control – or the extent to which you believe you make a difference, and how much you believe in what you are saying.
To strengthen your conviction, come across with greater confidence and be more convincing, I suggest that you take these 7 steps:
1. Stop the negative talk
Constant criticism will eventually erode the conviction and self-belief of even the most self-actualized person. But constructive feedback is key to our continual growth. So take control of the feedback and criticism you receive. We are often our worst critics and this does not help us. What we think about all day long is what we become.
Self-criticism – Stop second-guessing every ones’ reaction to you. Start by trusting yourself and what you are saying – and what feels right. Try preparing some simple positive affirmations, and reframing negatives into positives.
Other-criticism – Avoid people who sap your energy and confidence, who consistently provide unhelpful criticism and seem to only see the negatives. While these people can be very valuable if you need to identify risks and potential disasters in a risk analysis exercise, be very deliberate about when you seek their input.
2. Do the numbers
Reflect on all of the things you have achieved in life. Do an accounting of what you have internally (intelligence; compassion; belief; values; authenticity; self-worth and self-respect; love, qualifications and experience, relationships, confidence, happiness, etc.) and externally (family, friends, warmth and shelter, house, successful career and business, the various material possessions). Compare this to what you were and had 5 years ago.
3. Grow your circle of influence
Power cannot be given or taken – it is exercised. This is what having an internal locus of control is all about. Take the view that you matter, that you make the difference in your own life, not some external force or person. Reflect on all the things that you would like changed in your life. Locate them in the following circle of influence and concern (attributed to the late Stephen Covey). You place the things in you circle of influence that you feel you can have some control over, that you can make a difference to. Things that concern you but you believe you cannot make any difference to go in your circle of concern.
Consider one factor that currently resides in your circle of concern and develop strategies that you can implement to change it. Continually do this – set these challenges for you.
4. Clarify in your own mind what you stand for
If you are having trouble believing what you are saying, maybe you are not fighting the right fight. People who work in organizations that force them to promote a message that they really don’t believe in, invariable become unhappy, ineffective, unconvincing and unwell. Spend some time clarifying what you are about, what makes you tick, what makes you mad, what makes you feel like you are ‘on purpose’. This can relate to your grander life purpose, but also to the simple issues that arise in your home and work life. Do you feel something about the issue – more than just a fleeting curiosity or irritation? Do you have an opinion on these things (you don’t have to have an opinion on everything – that would just make you, well opinionated).
5. Spend time on developing your message or expertise until you are absolutely convinced in it yourself
If you have a position worth standing for (from your point of view – don’t worry about what others think – if Mandela worried about what others thought of him, apartheid might still be alive and well), then spend time on developing your thinking around it. And be sure that your actions are congruent with what you say. Malcolm Gladwell, the author of Outliers, studied people who were considered exceptional in a range of different fields – these people were outliers. One of the keys to their exceptional success was not their inherent brilliance – it was actually the time they spent learning and practicing in their area of expertise. In every case – Beatles, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, famous hockey players and musicians – you name it – he calculated that they had spent more or less 10,000 hours on their area of expertise.
6. Take up singing lessons
I kid you not; taking singing lessons will develop your physical capacity to project your voice calmly so that you don’t sound like a screaming, raving fanatic. It will also give you the confidence and discipline to present verbally in public situations. You wouldn’t sing a song you didn’t know or hadn’t practiced in public – well if what you have to say is that important as to make a difference, then spend some time on preparing to say it. This idea is also about finding your voice and feeling OK about raising it.
7. Share your message and be open to scrutiny
Share your message with the conviction that this was your purpose in life, and it enables others to achieve theirs. Put yourself out there. Start blogging and contributing to on-line discussions. Become the expert in your area of expertise. Don’t expect people to buy it – just to hear it as a gift from you.
8. Listen to others with a view of developing your thinking even further
This is really part of your developing your own thinking and further developing your message. To avoid being simply arrogant and ignorant, it pays to listen carefully to what others have to say about the issue. Meld these thoughts with your own (you don’t have to agree by the way) and you arrive a far deeper understanding than if you hadn’t.
If you want to go deeper into strengthening your own conviction, empowerment and ability to influence and convince others, register your interest for the Empowerment Workshop by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or visit me at elisesullivan.com