Confidence can give you a big boost

Columnist Harvey Mackay says confidence is one of the main traits of successful people.

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A businessman was heavily in debt and couldn't see any way out of it. Creditors were pressing him. Suppliers were demanding payment. Banks refused to loan him any money.

He was sitting on a park bench one day with his head down, trying to think of a way to save his company from bankruptcy. Suddenly an old man walked up to him and asked what was bothering him.

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The businessman explained his problems, and the old man wrote him a check, saying, "Take this money. We will meet here in exactly one year, and you will be able to return it to me at that time."

The businessman looked at the $500,000 check and thought of all the problems it could solve. But instead of depositing the check in the bank, he put it into his safe. The check inspired him to think of some new ideas, which gave him the confidence to pursue several potential deals. His company started to turn a profit again, and he was out of debt in a couple months.

Exactly one year later, the businessman returned to the park with the original check. A few minutes later the old man appeared, but suddenly a nurse ran up and grabbed him.


"I'm so glad I caught up with him," she exclaimed. "I hope he wasn't bothering you. He likes to leave the senior home and tell people he's a millionaire giving away money."

The businessman watched them walk away, stunned. He'd spent a year rescuing his business, convinced he had a half-million dollars to fall back on if he failed. Now he understood that it wasn't the money that turned his life around. It was his new confidence and belief in himself that gave him the strength to achieve success.

Confidence doesn't come naturally to most people. Even the most successful people have struggled with it in their careers. The good news is that you can develop confidence, just like any muscle or character trait, if you're willing to work hard. The better news: The following tips can help you strengthen your confidence:

  • Pay attention to your appearance. When you dress for success, you will carry yourself with more confidence. Devoting some time to your wardrobe and overall grooming shows others that you are knowledgeable, powerful and competent. I also consider posture part of your appearance.
  • Don't lose sight of your dreams. It is important to aim high, to have dreams that inspire you to go beyond your limits. I often joke that it takes years to become an overnight success. But it starts with a dream.
  • Continue to grow and improve. Seek new knowledge. If you're lacking any of the skills you need to achieve your goals, focus on learning them.
  • Practice, practice, practice. Practice makes perfect? Not true. You must add one word: Perfect practice makes perfect. Practice right so you don't get it wrong. All the world's a stage, and most of us need more rehearsals.
  • Stay positive. Don't let mistakes bother you. You don't need to be perfect to feel confident. Thinking positive has no negative. Positive thinking turns obstacles into opportunities.
  • Get over the fear of rejection. Rejection is part of life. Not everyone can handle all the rejections that are necessary to be successful. They don't realize that in order to get the yeses, you must hear the nos.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for advice. No one knows it all. That's why I have a kitchen cabinet to bounce things off. No matter what field, I always want to talk to the experts. Good advice is never cheap, and cheap advice is rarely good.

Walt Disney used to talk about the four Cs to success in life: curiosity, confidence, courage and constancy. He believed that if you applied these four Cs to your life, you could accomplish practically anything.
But there was one C that Walt believed to be the greatest of all: confidence. He said, "When you believe a thing, believe it all the way."

Mackay's Moral: The person who has self-confidence gains the confidence of others.

Harvey Mackay is the author of the New York Times best-seller "Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive." He can be reached at , by emailing or by writing him at MackayMitchell Envelope Co., 2100 Elm St. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414.

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