Small Victories First

(This post was inspired by parts 1 & 2 of recent audience FAQ’s )

Small victories build momentum.
Small victories validate self-assurance.
Small victories pave the way for later success.
Small victories enable you to take bolder action.
Small victories stretch your boundaries one mile at a time.

This goes for everything: dating, sports, conversation, business, shyness, speaking in public and the like. You must win small victories first. For example:

• If you’re terrified of public speaking, try giving a toast at the family dinner table.

• If you’re afraid of approaching strangers, go to the mall and strike up conversations with people who won’t reject you: clerks, salespeople and cashiers.

• If you’re reluctant to make sales calls, ring a few companies and ask several product-related questions to warm yourself up.

• If you’re fearful of writing and publishing articles, start a blog and post short entries to test the waters and get feedback from readers.

• If you’re scared of approaching a cute girl in a bar, try chatting with the cute bartender first.

• If you’re nervous about giving a speech in front of 300 people, go to a club and sing karaoke in front of 50 people.

Ultimately, we’re talking about confidence: in yourself, in your abilities, in your business, in your ideas and in your beliefs. And no matter what level you’re at right now, it is through small victories that your confidence experiences a boost. In the words of Anais Nin, “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”

But let’s go back to the origin of confidence: self-limiting beliefs. I’m often asked by my audience members, “Approachability? But what if I’m shy? What if I’m introverted?”

Good questions. In fact, since I’ve been asked those questions so many times lately, I’ve been brushing up on my shyness research. And without getting too scientific or psychological, here’s what I learned:

• Shy people are confined to the reality of the past instead of the potential of the future (Goodbye to Shy, 143).
• Shy people don’t think others are worth talking to anyway (Don’t Be Shy, 31).
• Shy people believe it’s their “fate,” and were born to be ignored (Help for Shy People, 98).
• Shy people have one thing in common: they’ve all been told they were shy by other people (Help for Shy People, 20).

But this isn’t about shy people – this is about ALL people. These facts represent the true nature of confidence as a function of self-limiting beliefs. It reminds me of great quotation by my favorite author, Anonymous, “If you put a small value upon yourself, rest assured that the world will not raise your price.”

Because you are what you believe.

First example: if you believe your past victories were just flukes; that you simply “lucked out,” you’re creating a dangerous pattern which focuses on the losses rather than the gains. As a result, this pattern will produce a negative attitude, thereby disabling self-confidence in future situations.

VICTORY LAP #1: focus on past successes instead of failures. Figure out what you did right, believe that it will happen again, and then repeat those positive actions.

Second example: if you believe you were born or raised a certain way, or that some ridiculous 70 question test which indicated your personality type pigeonholed you into becoming who you are, remember: people change. Every day. You don’t have to be your past.

VICTORY LAP #2: make a list of five characteristics you possessed growing up. Read the list aloud, and if you don’t like it, rip it up. Hell, burn it if you can! (Unless you’re in the airport.)

Final example: if you believe you are who you are because that’s what people always told you, remember these two quotations: “Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent,” (Eleanor Roosevelt), and “It ain’t what they call you; it’s what you answer to,” (W.C. Fields).

VICTORY LAP #3: think about the way people have always described you. Consider how those words have shaped your confidence.

Now that you have a better understanding of how your beliefs affect self-confidence (or lack thereof), use these five steps as a guide for your next small victory:

1. Recognize. No matter how small, take the time to say to yourself, “That was a victory! I just won. I overcame something that was previously difficult. Awesome.”

2. Rejoice. Find a way to celebrate. Get a little bell for your desk. (I ring my bell every time I book a speech or sell a book.) Jump up and down. Say a prayer. Give thanks. Give a high-five to someone in your office.

3. Record. Keep a Victory Log. Write down the time, date, type of victory, what self-limiting belief(s) you overcame to achieve it and WHY you overcame it.

4. Review. At the end of each week, go back through your journal and take note of your victories. Give thanks for all of them.

5. Replicate. Think about the week ahead: how will you expand those victories into larger successes?

I think the famous poet Bryant McGill said it best, “Minor successes, when added together, can become the sum of change.”

That’s the key to self-confidence: small victories first.

What’s your most recent small victory?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag

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