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Believe in Yourself

by David DeFord

Recently I traveled with my beautiful wife to Scottsdale, Arizona to speak to a high-achieving team of sales executives. These men and women had brought their firm enough new business to qualify for the reward trip. They spent three days at a luxurious resort golfing, swimming, dining, receiving massages, facials and all sorts of pampering.

They would spend their only hour of “business” with me.. My role was to inspire them to even greater achievement in 2005. When approached about the speaking opportunity, I felt confident I could help.

The host company arranged for our transportation from the airport to the spa—we just needed to go to a specific location and wait for the shuttle. As we chatted with another couple, a shiny black Lincoln limousine pulled up. I thought, “Someone famous must be here.” I looked around for Elton John or Ben Affleck.

The driver approached me and asked, “Mr. DeFord?” He had come for us!

As we sat in the back of this limo and pulled up the long driveway to the resort, admiring the rows of towering palm trees, I started to get nervous. This was no service club after-lunch speech—this was the big time! Am I ready for this?

I told Kathy, “Let’s try to not look like the Beverly Hillbillies.”

Kathy and I enjoyed the evening, dining in one of the many restaurants, strolling through the botanical garden (yes this hotel/resort had its own botanical gardens), and finding the location for the next morning’s speech. I wondered if my speech could match the high quality of service and accommodations of this wonderland of luxury.

I arose early and prepared myself for the 8am speech. My preparations completed, I paced the lobby floor for nearly an hour before the audience began to form. As these high-powered achievers entered the meeting room, I knew immediately that I would do well. My fear melted away and my confidence returned. They looked just like me and I looked just like them. I knew my message would lift and encourage them to make 2005 the year of their remarkable leap.

My confidence grew from that moment and carried me through the full presentation.

I originally learned the importance of belief in oneself as a young basketball player. A few times I stood at the free-throw line when hitting or missing the shots would determine the game’s outcome. What a pressure situation!

The times I felt confident, I hit the free-throws. Every time I feared or doubted, I failed.

The same was true in baseball as I stood at the plate facing a fire-throwing fastball pitcher. When I believed in myself, my hitting improved. I confess that rarely happened.

I find this principle to be true in all areas of my life. When my confidence soars, so do I.

How about you? Can you look back to times when you felt “in the zone”? Do you recall times when your confidence helped you excel?

I have a few tips for increasing your confidence:

First, hone your skills through practice. My Arizona speech went well because I had practiced many times. Of course, I added many spontaneous points and stories, but I had also practiced doing that.

Second, believe in your work. Since I had confidence in the value of my message, my speech performance reflected that confidence.

Third, get helpful feedback.

Fourth, study, study, study. As you study your craft or desired skill your confidence will grow.

Fifth, look at others who have accomplished what you desire to accomplish. I launched an intense and enjoyable three-year clip in which I ran seven marathons and four ultra-marathons because I saw a fellow in a marathon finishers’ shirt and thought, “If that guy can finish a marathon, so can I.”

Sixth, reflect on your earlier successes and translate that reflection into confidence for the task ahead.

Our young friend, Elizabeth, has packed a great deal of living into her thirty years. She barely escaped the ravages of the gruesome civil war in Sudan. At one point in her escape, she and her two companions had to cross a heavily guarded stretch of land. She told her companions, “Look confident. If you look scared, the guards will know you are trying to escape.” She and one companion successfully pulled it off, but one could not hide his fear. The guards apprehended him.

Don’t let your fear and doubt keep you from making your remarkable leap this year. Build in yourself the confidence to succeed. You can do this. Believe in yourself. I believe in you.

Related Quotes

Often our attitudes bring about the treatment life hands us. By our attitudes we can influence whether we find become conquerors or victims. David DeFord

You are the possessor of a great and wonderful power. This power, when properly applied, will bring confidence instead of timidity, calmness instead of confusion, poise instead of restlessness, and peace of mind in place of heartache. What is your greatest power? The power to choose. J. Martin Kohe

You can do what you think you can do and you cannot do what you think you cannot do. Ben Stein

The mind is the limit. As long as the mind can envision the fact that you can do something, you can do it, as long as you really believe 100 percent. Arnold Schwarzenegger

You are the fruit of the thoughts you have planted and nourished. If you want a better harvest, you must plant better thoughts. Robert Allen

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