Do you know how to say no to an offer when you just don't want to do it – be it an invitation from the boss to go to lunch, a business partnership on a new venture or helping your spouse clean out the garage?
Do you know how to go after yes when you desperately want something – be it for a business opportunity, a potential client you were targeting or even a day of rest and relaxation for yourself?
Asking for what you want can be a scary prospect.
It's funny because it ought to be the simplest and most natural thing of all: You want something; you ask for it. Yet, resistance gets in the way. You talk yourself out of it and you distract yourself with other things because anything would be easier than acting on your desires.
I know. I've been there, and I stayed stuck in this powerless place a long time. I watched the best opportunities pass me by in the early years of my career, simply because I could not bring myself to utter "no" to bosses or peers and I did not have the courage to get to "yes" on the things that mattered.
They asked. I did. They demanded. I performed. They failed to fulfill promises of reward and recognition. I said nothing. For five years, I stayed grossly underpaid as top talent and the most productive employee in my organization.
When I look back at those days, I attribute my choices to these 2 reasons:
– I did not know how to say no, no more weekends, no more evening shifts, no more shoving me to the end of queue, no more bypassing me for promotion, no more lying to me about raises and bonuses.
– I did not know how to get to yes from my bosses: yes to taking my vacation, yes to giving me a raise, yes to going on a company trip like everyone else, and yes to my new demands as a top employee.
Those were not fun days, and worse yet, I used to believe: "This is just the way things are!" but that is a lie. Let's explore the hidden side of truth, shall we?
Today, in my own business, a day does not go by that I don't chase someone for a YES or turn someone down with a NO. And you know what? I absolutely thrive on it! I would go so far as to say I even get a rush from doing it.
So how did I go from being so scared to so capable, from being such a mouse to a tiger, while staying professional, polite, patient, and passionate, without giving in to bitterness, anger, or any other rash behavior to get what I want?
One word: Confidence.
Confidence in myself changed everything. Before, fear drove my decisions at work and guilt drove my decisions with family and friends. Fear of getting fired. Guilt of being labeled uncaring. The weight of fear and guilt leads you to the most regretful decisions in your life, and it shows that you have no confidence in who you are and what you believe.
With confidence, I was able to hold my head high, to ask for everything I wanted in the right way, and to turn down all the wrong things, and to my shock, I got everything and more!
In the last 5 years of my career there, I doubled my salary and tripled my bonus, I moved on from an abusive organization to a nurturing one, I drastically reduced my hours and increased my options! I created the conditions to work full-time from home, and to travel around the world on the company dime. I learned to build relationships where I felt as an equal with my bosses and peers, rather than an inferior. I even learned to say no to projects, tasks and work I did not feel to be a good fit. In short, I became an active leader in my own career and destiny.
This is just the beginning of what I was able to do with self-confidence. What can you do with it?
Confidence is being kind and firm with what you want and how you go about getting it. Confidence means you respect yourself first and foremost, and you value your beliefs and you expect to be treated a certain way. Confidence empowers you to say no with kindness and firmness, and it gives you the courage to go after every yes your heart desires.
How do you wake up your confidence if you have buried it under layers of doubt and fear for years? It takes a conscious decision on your part to admit you are worthy of the things you want. It takes an effort to strengthen your sense of self-esteem. It takes a desire to break out of self-sabotage cycles and build healthy, nurturing ones in its place. It takes work, just like everything else, but it rewards you brilliantly.
The one secret I can heartily tell you about confidence is this: You already have it. You have an abundance of it. It is just dormant. It is deep asleep. It is waiting come alive when you are ready. All you have to do is tap into it, nudge it awake and feed it. Feed your confidence instead of your fears and doubts. Believe in your abilities instead of focusing on your possible failures. Embrace this force that lives inside you, and begin to practice its magic in your daily life.
Let confidence be the truest and greatest form of your self-expression, and all else will come to you.