Tuesday, May 5, 2015


"As is our confidence, so is our capacity." -William Hazlitt

Fuel for Success: Self-Confidence
Self-confidence is the belief that you can handle a certain situation correctly.  It is the belief in yourself and your own abilities.
Self-confidence is relational with respect to each activity in which you engage.  For example, you may be very confident in your abilities in a particular sport, but not so confident when it comes to talking to a stranger.
How important is self-confidence in life?

  • Presenting yourself as someone who is confident can increase your chances of making someone fall in love with you.
  • Possessing confidence during job interviews gives you a much better chance of an employment offer, relative to others who possess solid resumes, but who lack self-confidence.
  • A confident person usually possesses at least TEN TIMES the likelihood of success than a person who lacks confidence.  Think about it.  Ten Times More Likely to Succeed.
  • Confidence creates trust.  Everyone wants to be able to trust the people they do business with, become friends with, and fall in love with.
The good news is that self-confidence is never inherited, it is learned.  Self-confidence is a skill, or trait, that you can acquire.  All it takes is the right attitude and practice.
Understand that nearly all of the college students around you lack sufficient self-confidence.  It may seem to you that you are the least confident person in a particular environment, but there are many others in the room who are as shy, or even shyer, than you.
Another piece of good news about self-confidence is that you can fake it!  That’s right – you can “ooze confidence” even if you don’t have it! I personally know people who have pursued their dreams even when they didn’t feel especially confident about the actions they were taking. You know what happened?  They made amazing progress and they increased their self-confidence levels along the way.

Introverts: Be Proud, for Introversion is a Strength, Not an Excuse.
Introversion is a strength, but it should never become an excuse.
Watch this Ted Talk:  “Susan Cain: The Power of Introverts” http://www.ted.com/talks/susan_cain_the_power_of_introverts (19:04).
In a culture where being social and outgoing are prized above all else, it can be difficult, even shameful, to be an introvert. But, as Susan Cain argues in this passionate talk, introverts bring extraordinary talents and abilities to the world that should be encouraged and celebrated.
Introversion is an inner strength.  It enables you to be much more observant and reflective of the world around you.  Introverts are more likely to discern facts and nuances, which extroverts tend to ignore.  Time spent in reflection can often lead to greater insights into the world around you.  As this introvert has often informed extroverts:  “Sorry extroverts, but you will never be as observant and reflective as I am.  But, I can learn to be nearly as good as you at interacting with others.”
Even though you have this gift of introversion, never use this gift as an excuse for not socializing, networking, or connecting with others.

Extroverts: Can You Observe the 70/30 Rule?
While the personal trait of extroversion is often thought of as a strength in terms of the acquisition and maintenance of social skills, it can also be a weakness.  Extroverts are often very poor listeners!
Everyone should be a great listener.  Ask questions, pay attention to the answers, and ask further questions.  Get the other person to reveal something about themselves.  Observe the 70/30 rule.  Your best conversation is when the other person talks 70% of the time and you talk only 30% of the time.
Listening makes our loved ones, friends, and business associates feel worthy, appreciated, interesting, and respected.  Ordinary conversations often lead to a deeper level of communication.

Tips to Enhance Your Listening Skills
1. Face the person speaking.  Sit up straight or lean forward slightly to show your attentiveness through body language.
2. Maintain eye contact, to the degree that everyone remains comfortable.
3. Minimize external distractions. Turn off the TV, put down your book or magazine, and ask the speaker and other listeners to do the same. Don’t gaze around the room.  Keep the focus on the speaker at all times.
4. Respond verbally and with body language to convey that you understand what the speaker is saying.  Murmur “uh-huh” and “um-hmm” while nodding affirmatively.  Raise your eyebrows if appropriate.  Say words such as “Really”, “Interesting”, as well as more direct prompts such as “What did you do then?” and “What did she say?” and “What do you mean by that?”
5. Listen not merely to the words, but to the emotional content.  Try to gain a sense of what the speaker feels or felt (when they are describing an event or occurrence in their past). Ask them, “How do (did) you feel about that?”
6. Keep an open mind. Wait until the speaker is finished before deciding that you disagree.
7. Don’t provide advice gratuitously. Avoid letting the speaker know how you handled a similar situation. Unless they specifically ask for advice, assume they just need to talk it out.  Some people just need to vent and are not always looking for a “solution.”
8. If the speaker is launching a complaint against you or your company, wait until they finish to defend yourself. This strategy makes the speaker feel as though their point had been made and they won’t feel the need to repeat it. Plus, you’ll know the whole argument before you respond.
9. Engage yourself in the conversation.  Ask questions for clarification, but wait until the speaker has finished. That way, you won’t interrupt their train of thought. After you ask questions, paraphrase their point to make sure you didn’t misunderstand. Start with: “So you’re saying…”

Unleash the Power of Your Smile.
Recent research reveals that a “toothy grin” makes you easily detectable in a crowd of people.  This should come as no surprise to those who smile a lot. A smile not only enables you to be noticed, but also builds positive feelings in the observer.  Read the following article, which is adapted from “Better Interpersonal Communication,” found at http://communicatebetter.blogspot.com/2008/10/power-of-smile.html (October 5, 2008)]

The Power of a Smile
"Smiling is infectious, you catch it like the flu. When someone smiled at me today, I started smiling too." ~ Karen McLendon-Laumann
Smiling is important in our everyday life, both in our personal lives as well as within the workplace. Dale Carnegie notes, "The expression one wears on one's face is far more important than the clothes one wears on one's back."
A smile is one of the most obvious and effective methods of non-verbal communication. It is one of the first things someone will notice about you.  A smile, both physically as well as subconsciously, transmits the message, “I'm glad you're here and that I'm happy to see you.”
Smiling has implications, both in our personal as well as our business relationships. Smiling overcomes barriers and open doors for people. A sincere smile is a message of goodwill and is considered a sign of hospitality and confidence when dealing with a friend or a business associate.
So, we all know that a smile is good, but what happens if you don't feel like smiling? Well, emotions can be controlled to a certain extent, both physically as well as emotionally.  And, you can evoke good feelings by smiling.
How to Smile Even When You Don't Feel Like It:
Physical Method
-  The human body associates physical responses with the associated emotion. For example, if you slouch a lot, your body will naturally feel more sluggish as compared to a person who maintains a good posture.
-  Similarly, even if you feel sad, you can still draw your lips together and lift up the ends to form a smile. You might find your mood improving naturally. This technique has helped me improve my mood countless of times.
-  Smile with your eyes. This technique involves concentrating your smile on your eyes instead of your lips. Think of your eyes smiling, or twinkling. You will find that your entire face will have to lift itself to accomplish this. You will find your cheeks lifting up and the tip of your lips lifting up to form a smile.

Emotional Method
-  Our emotional state is a state of mind. As cliché as it sounds, you've got to want to be happy in order to be happy. When you WANT to be happy, think happy thoughts. Think about a place with happy memories, about someone who makes you feel happy, or a joke.
-  There is the saying, "Smile and the world smiles with you, frown and you frown alone." When you smile, it triggers smiles in others around you. Even in extremely stressful situations, a smile can easily brighten up everybody's mood. A smile is infectious. Start infecting people with your smile today.
-  Remember, happiness is frequently a choice. We can choose to be happy or miserable. Abraham Lincoln once noted, "Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be."

Your Assignment: “Five Trials.”
During the coming five days, you are to expand your belief about what you are capable of.  Complete these exercises fully, with passion, and you will discover the personal greatness you were born for.
Give yourself permission to “fail.”  The worst thing that can happen when you fail is that you will learn something along the way.  Very few “failures” in life ever end up defining your future. Most have only those consequences that you, yourself, assign to them. As you let yourself “fail,” you will discover that there’s no more room in your life for excessive self-doubt.  You will feel more confident in your ability to be yourself.  And you will take great strides to becoming much more successful in all aspects of your life.

If you put yourself in a position where you have to stretch outside of your comfort zone,
then you are forced to expand your consciousness.
These exercises are designed to expand your comfort zone. Approach these exercises with an open mind.  Embrace the fact that socialization skills can be learned and enhanced through practice. As you complete these exercises, feel free to stretch your boundaries even further by doing more than what the exercises call for. Challenge yourself to expand your “comfort zone” over the next five days.
Day One, Smile!
Place a rubber band around your wrist.  Every time you look at it, remind yourself to smile. For the next 24 hours, smile whenever you are in the presence of other people.  Especially in these situations:
At the end of the time period, write in your journal, describing this experience.
Day Two, Keep Smiling and Say “Hello!”
For an entire day, continue to smile and say, “Hello!” or another form of greeting every time you pass by another person. Do this even when the other person is wearing earplugs!
At the end of the day, write in your journal, describing this experience.
Day Three: Introduce Yourself to an Executive
Visit the executive suite of the campus and then introduce yourself and have a brief (1-2 minute) conversation with the senior staff member. As a beginning, you might say: “Good morning (afternoon), (use their name).  My name is (your name).  It is a pleasure to meet you.”
Write in your journal, describing this experience.
Day Four:  Interview a Stranger
Approach a student with whom you have not previously had a conversation. Hold a 10-minute or longer conversation with that student. Gather the following information:
Practice your “active listening” skills. Ask other questions, including follow-up questions. Then, write a thank-you note (see appendix for ideas on content) to the student. After the foregoing, write in your journal, describing this experience.
Day Five: Write a Self-Reflective Statement on Self-Confidence
Now it is time for you to write a 250- to 400-word essay in your journal on the topic of “self-confidence.”  Explore what you have learned about yourself over the past week.
-    Which of these exercises had the most impact upon you?
-    What good habits, relating to communicating with others, do you desire to achieve?
-    What bad habits, relating to communicating with others, do you need to change?
-    What actions can you take to use the “self-confidence” you have gained to propel yourself to success in life?

Dr. Ron A. Rhoades is an Asst. Professor of Finance at Western Kentucky University's Gordon Ford College of Business, where he chairs the (B.S. Finance) Financial Planning Program. An innovative, passionate teacher, he is the author of Choose to Succeed in College and in Life: Continously Improve, Persevere, and Enjoy the Journey (2014)from which many of these blog posts are derived.

Dr. Rhoades also serves as a consultant to the Garrett Planning Network, a nationwide network of independent, Fee-Only financial planners making competent, objective financial advice accessible to all people. He is the author of several books, dozens of articles, and he is a frequent speaker at financial planning and investments conferences. He is the recipient of many awards for his advocacy on behalf of the fiduciary standard. Dr. Rhoades is also a member of The Florida Bar, and he practices estate planning and transfer taxation for select current clients.

Dr. Rhoades and his wife, Cathy, reside in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

To contact Dr. Rhoades, please e-mail: WKUBear@gmail.com.

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