The Building Blocks of Self-Confidence Are Knowledge, Skills and Practice. In That Order.

I’m successful in many areas of my life.

For example, in April I celebrated ten years of being vegan. In the past decade I never once lapsed to eating anything of animal origin.

I’m also proud to say that I am a happy person. I’m happy for who I am, where I am, what I have and whom I’m with. Being happy is my ultimate achievement and I’ve worked hard for it.

There are areas where I can’t claim 100% success. For example, I still haven’t managed to build the kind of business that would be perfectly aligned with my personal values. Business-wise I’m in the best place now than I ever was, but something is still missing. My ultimate goal is to build the kind of business that buys me a certain level of personal freedom.

I’ve been wondering: how come one can achieve 100% success in one area and not in another? What are the building blocks of success?

I’ve identified self-confidence as the ‘secret’ characteristic of every person who deems herself successful. The good thing about self-confidence is that it’s completely under my control.

Unlike success. Success is unobtanium if you make it your direct goal. Success does not exist. Even when you’re able to define it, see it, hear it, smell it and touch it, it’s not success that you’re seeing, hearing, smelling and touching. Your representation of success is always something more specific. You experience success as a number on your bank account. An amazing person sleeping next to you. An airplane ticket to Iceland. Sitting under the tree, listening to the nature making sounds and not having to do a damn thing in the world.

Success is unobtainium until you make it more concrete, until you break it down to specific characteristics which you can control.

What is under your control you can measure. What you can measure you can improve.

As the most important building block of success, I’m happy to inform you that self-confidence is 100% under your control.

But where does self-confidence come from? What creates it? What precedes it?

I want to teach what I know. For example, I know a thing or two about selling websites. What I know can help other web professionals to build better businesses.

I asked myself this: where, when and how did I arrive at my self-confidence in selling websites? How do I dare to ask for five times more money than some other people? How do I teach others to ask for more money and get the sale?

The process of teaching is the process of understanding. When I want to understand a phenomenon, I always look to deconstruct it to its building blocks. Like a child playing with Lego bricks I recently took my own self-confidence apart and studied its atoms. The molecule of my self-confidence split in three atoms: knowledge, skills and practice.

To me, knowledge means knowing the true costs of running my business. I just know how much effort and expenses (in time and resources paid with money) go into making a product such as a website. I also know what it takes to sell a website: I’ve read a ton of sales books and articles and I keep reading more. I also know the business value of a good website. I’ve been acquiring and internalizing this knowledge for more than a decade. I use my knowledge as a powerful ally which won’t let me forget why and what I need to do in sales.

So, knowledge is one of the sources of self-confidence. But knowing the why and the what of sales is not enough, is it? Knowing is not the same as doing.

It also takes skills. Skills are the how of knowledge. In my case, I may know that I need to ask for a certain amount of money to sell a profitable web project. But in what way exactly do I ask so that I get the sale? That’s where my sales skills kick in. I have practical sales training where I’ve learned essential sales skills such as qualifying leads, asking questions, communication, presenting, listening and asking for the sale. My teachers taught me which roles those skills play in sales.

Now that I have the why, the what and the how, it’s time to start practicing. Practice is acquiring experience in using your new skills. I’ve now worked in sales for more that three thousand days (not counting Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays). On every one of those three thousand days I put myself in a situation where I had to practice the skills I’ve learned. On even days I sucked a lot and sold nothing. On odd days I sucked less and sold a website or two. With each website sold my self-confidence grew because I practiced the skills that I learned. When you do this for over three thousand days, self-confidence comes easy. And success comes easy when you’re self-confident.

But you don’t want to wait three thousand days. You want to start now. How do you do it? By following the trail to its source, like this:

If you lack success, become more self-confident. If you lack self-confidence, practice new skills. If you lack skills, acquire knowledge.

I can’t help you succeed, make you more self-confident or make you practice your skills. That’s your job.

But I can set you on the path of success. I can give you the source code to success: the knowledge.

I write about the business of website development. My personal business fetishes are pricing, recurring revenue, sales, getting enough qualified leads and organizing business processes. The place where I publish all my knowledge and my best tips is the Simpfinity newsletter to which you should totally subscribe. Oh, and there will be books soon. Subscribers will be the first to find out about them.


Creative Commons Image License: ‘Birds of a Feather’ by Jessica Lok


We’re discussing deconstructing self-confidence on Google+.

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