As a career success coach, I'm always looking for new and different ways to get across my common sense ideas on life and career success. I found some great career advice in a Denver elementary school a couple of months ago.

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Success Tweet: Choose optimism. It builds your confidence. Believe today will be better than yesterday, and tomorrow will be better yet. I’m a big believer in the power of optimism. I think it is the foundation of all self-confidence. You can’t be self-confident if you’re not optimistic. And, optimism is a choice. I get up every day believing good things will happen – and then I go about making them happen. When I was a kid, I participated in the local Optimist International chapter’s oratory contest. I won my section, and finished third in the state. The topic that year was “Optimism, Youth’s Greatest Asset.” That’s hard enough for a ninth grader to say (think Joe Pesci in My Cousin Vinnie) let alone write and deliver a ten minute talk. Optimist International is a great service organization. They help kids build self-confidence and become more optimistic. The Optimist Creed defines them. It’s powerful stuff. Take a look…

The Optimist Creed

Promise Yourself:
  • To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
  • To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.
  • To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.
  • To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.
  • To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.
  • To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
  • To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
  • To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.
  • To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
  • To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.
I love The Optimist Creed. I have it framed and hanging in my office, just above my desk. I have made a PDF of The Optimist Creed that is suitable for framing. If you want a copy, visit my website. One thing that you’ll notice about The Optimist Creed is it is proactive. It asks you to promise yourself to do ten things that will help you create the life and career success that you want and deserve. It suggests that optimism is related to action – action you can take to become more optimistic and to build your career success. I think it is some of the best career advice I’ve come across. I do my best to live the 10 points in The Optimist Creed every day. You should too. I especially like the fourth point – promise yourself to look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true. This point goes directly to the idea of committing to taking personal responsibility for your life and career success. I know it’s difficult to look at the sunny side of things when you’re mired in a problem or are dealing with a failure. However, if you look for what you can learn from problems and failures, you’ll be looking at the sunny side. More important, you’ll be on your way to making your optimism come true. Christopher Reeve is no longer with us, but he exemplified the idea of looking at the sunny side of things. Even though he was paralyzed from the neck down after a riding accident, he devoted himself to finding a cure for spinal cord injuries. I loved the way his optimism comes across in this quote… "So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable." Christopher Reeve looked at the sunny side of his injury and did what he could to make his optimism come true. His foundation carries on the work he started. The common sense career success coach point here is simple. Successful people are self confident. Self confident people are optimists. They follow the career advice in Tweet 42 in Success Tweets, “Choose optimism. It builds your confidence. Believe today will be better than yesterday, and tomorrow will be better yet.” The Optimist Creed is a great guide to becoming more optimistic and self-confident. It's proactive approach to life is a great guide to creating the life and career success you want and deserve. Remember the old saying, “Whether you’re an optimist, or a pessimist you’ll be proven right.” I choose optimism, and suggest you do too. This post was originally published on an earlier date. Photo Credit: Shutterstock
Success Tweet 53: Act as if you expect to be accepted and you will be. This will increase your confidence and help you make a strong personal impact. “Acting as if” is great career advice to help you gain self-confidence. People respond to what you do and how you behave. So if you act and look self-confident, people will treat you as someone who is self-confident. If you act as if you expect to be accepted – at work, by a customer or client, by a group you want to join – you will be likely to be accepted. It’s all in how you carry and present yourself. Self-confident people greet others with a firm handshake, look them in the eye, and smile. They offer their opinions confidently, and listen attentively to what others have to say. Debra Benton is a friend of mine. Chapter two in her excellent book, Executive Charisma, is called “Expect and Give Acceptance to Maintain Esteem.” She says… “As a human being walking this earth you have a right by birth to expect acceptance from everyone; and you have an obligation to give it to everyone. You can’t expect it for yourself and not give it to others… If you don’t expect acceptance, you won’t get any. "Ignore thoughts such as ‘I got here by accident and I’ll be found out.’ ‘I’m dreading the day when someone is going to get me for that.’ ‘I’m close to being found out, so I’ll hide out where I am.’ "Expecting acceptance is putting yourself on par with any other member of the human species. Expecting acceptance is stubbornly and justifiably holding a belief of simple self-acceptance. No one is above you or below you. We are all at the same level.” It’s difficult to expect acceptance when you have little or no confidence. On the other hand, it’s easy to expect acceptance when you are self-confident. This can become a positive or negative self-fulfilling prophecy. Self-confident people expect to be accepted. Therefore they are and their self-confidence grows. People are not self-confident expect to not be accepted. Therefore, they aren’t and their self-confidence is diminished. The key is to create your own positive self-fulfilling prophecy. Debra says… “Initiate a conscious, deliberate, persistent attitude of expecting acceptance from other humans regardless of whether they earn more money, carry a loftier title, or appear to have more power, experience, status and so on. "Everyone knows people who can intimidate, overwhelm, rankle, derail or overly impress… These people don’t have power over you unless you give it to them.” This means that you have to consciously work on building your self-confidence. No one is going to do it for you. Be optimistic. Face your fears and act. Surround yourself with positive people. Find a mentor and absorb his or her wisdom. Mentor others. Do all of these things, and you’ll be more self-confident, and able to expect acceptance. You’ll be creating your own positive self-fulfilling prophecy. Here’s a personal story. Several years ago, I was working for a large company. I was in the training and development department and was scheduled to do a talk for sales people in one of our divisions. I wanted to make sure I did a good job. I called the Division President and VP of Sales to schedule information gathering interviews. I had great conversations with both of them – and their input helped me develop and conduct a dynamite program that was the highlight of the sales meeting. The Division President even sent a nice note to my boss, complimenting me on the job I did. My boss came to me with the note and asked “How did you get the guts to call the Division President to do that interview?” My response – “I couldn’t do a great talk if I didn’t know exactly what he wanted and needed.” Reflecting on this many years later, I realize that I expected acceptance. Of course, the Division President would be happy to speak with me. I was someone who could help him run a successful sales meeting. I created my own positive self-fulfilling prophecy. Sometimes this takes guts. But I have found that the reward is worth the risk. Fear of rejection is one of the biggest human fears. But I have found that if you approach people confidently, openly and honestly, they are very likely to accept, not reject you. To do this, you have to conquer your fear of rejection. You have to do something – like initiate conversation. You have to demonstrate that you expect to be accepted. When you do this, you’ll find that your fear of rejection is just that…

F False

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Success Tweet: Fake it 'til you make it. Appear to be self-confident and others will treat you as if you are. In turn, this will boost your self-confidence. (This post is a continuation of the advice in the post on Success Tweet 53.)

The Key To Self Confidence

The old saying “fake it 'til you make it” is great career advice. If you are nervous about being accepted – in a new job or work group, by a new client or a community that you want to join – act as if you are confident of being accepted. Think, “Of course, I’ll be accepted.” This will give you the self-confidence to act in a manner that assume acceptance – even if you’re faking it at first – people will be likely to accept you. Here’s what one of my favorite philosophers and essayists, Ralph Waldo Emerson, has to say on this subject...
"The virtue you would like to have, assume it is already yours, appropriate it, enter into the part and live the character just as the great actor is absorbed in the part he plays.”
He’s right. If you play a part long enough, you become that part. Dottie Walters, who passed away on Valentine’s Day in 2007, is a great example of this. You probably don’t know who she was, but in certain circles – professional speakers – she was a legend. Walters was one of the pioneers of the speaking business. There is no aspect of it that she didn't touch or influence. Her book, Speak and Grow Rich, is one of the all-time best sellers in our industry. She also produced several audio recordings, books, booklets, as well as a news magazine for speakers, Sharing Ideas. You could even hear her being interviewed at 30,000 feet, as she often was highlighted in the airlines audio programs. Walters was a true icon. However, I’m not writing about her here because she influenced the lives and careers of many professional speakers, mine included. I’m writing about Walters here because she was one of the most optimistic people I know. She truly believed that she would be accepted in whatever she did. And she began by faking it 'til she made it. In 1948, she was a stay-at-home mother of two. Her husband’s dry cleaning business was on the verge of collapse due to a recession, leaving them with little income and $5,000 in debt – a sizeable sum in those days. Walters became a saleswoman for a newspaper; first ads, then circulation. She founded a business, Hospitality Hostess Service, kind of like Welcome Wagon. She built it into a four-office, 285-employee business with 4,000 continuous contract advertising accounts. She began reading everything she could about sales. She found that all of the books she was reading were written for men. She went to the library to find some books on sales that were written for women. When she asked the librarian where the books were for women in sales, she was told, “There are no women in sales, so there are no books for them!” That night, in her mind Walters saw a copy of a book that had not yet been written on the library shelf. The title was Never Underestimate the Selling Power of a Woman! She decided to write that book. It was the first book ever written for women in sales by a saleswoman. Walters expected that her book and her ideas would be accepted – and they were. Tupperware bought out the entire first printing, including a front section with a letter and picture of their president. They booked Walters to speak at their big rallies around the country. Many other direct sales companies followed suit. She went on from there to produce audio programs, and become one of the founding members of the National Speakers Association. Walters became a legend because she believed in herself. She acted as if she expected to be accepted – and she was. As Emerson suggests, she “played the role” of a super saleswoman for so long that she eventually became a super saleswoman. She assumed that her book on women in sales was necessary and would sell. She was right. Walters always looked at the bright side. She assumed she would be accepted even when she was selling newspaper subscriptions while pushing two children in a stroller. In The Power of Positive Thinking, Norman Vincent Peale makes an interesting point about being accepted and liked...
“The fact is popularity can be attained by a few simple, natural, normal and easily mastered techniques. Practice them diligently and you will become a well liked person. First, become a comfortable person, one with whom people can associate without a sense of strain. A comfortable person is easy going and natural. He has a pleasant, kindly, genial way about him.”
This is great career advice and where acting as if you expect to be accepted comes in. When you expect to be accepted you don’t work too hard at getting people to like and accept you – you become a comfortable person; someone who is easy going and natural with a pleasant, kindly, genial way. The common sense career success coach point here is simple. Successful people build relationships easily because they are self-confident. They follow the career advice in Tweet 54 in Success Tweets, “Fake it 'til you make it. Appear to be self confident and others will treat you as if you are. In turn, this will boost your self-confidence.” Norman Vincent Peale suggests that the best way to act as if you expect to be accepted is to become a comfortable person – someone others want to be around. He says that comfortable people are easy going and natural. I agree with this career advice, when you are easy going and natural people sense that you expect them to accept you. While other people’s opinion shouldn’t be the entire basis of your self-confidence, feeling accepted by others is always a confidence booster. This post was originally published on an earlier date. Key to self-confidence image from Bigstock
Success Tweet: Surround yourself with positive people. Hold them close. They will give you energy and help you create the success you want and deserve. Successful people surround themselves with positive people – people who are both positive by nature, and positive about their life and career success. Positive people are optimistic; and as I’ve discussed in the post on Tweet 44, optimism is the first step in building your self-confidence. Becoming confident and follow other career success tips will help you develop as a professional and a person too! Positive people help you feel good about yourself, because they feel good about themselves - and life in general. They help you build your self-esteem because they have a strong sense of self-esteem. Positive people are there when you begin to doubt yourself. They are not threatened by you or your success. They realize that self-esteem is not a fixed pie. There is an unlimited amount of it to go around, so positive people are always giving it away. Here’s a bit of career advice. Build your self confidence and jumpstart your life and career success by spending your time with upbeat, positive people. Not too long ago, I did a talk for a local real estate company. This was at the height of the subprime mortgage crisis, not a good time to be in the real estate business. As people entered the room and saw me, most came over asked if I were the speaker, and introduced themselves. This was great, because it helped put me at ease. Once I knew people’s names, it was easier to feel relaxed and enjoy doing my talk. As the moderator kicked off the session, she recognized several people in attendance, all of whom got a nice round of applause for their accomplishments. When she introduced me, the audience also applauded. During my talk, I could see people taking notes and nodding their heads as I spoke. All of this made it easier for me to connect with them as an audience and do a better job on my talk. My self-confidence was buoyed by the positive energy I observed prior to and during my talk. I’m a professional speaker. I do lots of speeches, and I get a little nervous before each one. I welcome these nerves because I know they are my body’s way of telling me that I am up for the presentation. I worry when I’m not a little nervous, as that is an indicator that I might be a little flat during the talk. However, because the people at the real estate company introduced themselves to me prior to my talk, I knew that this was a positive audience. I still had the positive butterflies, but my nerves were in check and my self-confidence high because of the positive energy in the room. When I got to the part in my talk about surrounding yourself with positive people, everyone in the audience nodded. They got it – they knew exactly what I was talking about. After the talk, a few people came up to me to discuss that very point. They said that being in the company of positive people was one of the most important aspects of their success. This is a small example, but a telling one. To succeed in sales, you have to be self-confident. By its very nature, selling involves a lot of setbacks and rejection. It takes a self-confident person to make the sixth call after not getting anywhere on the previous five. Successful salespeople face and deal with their fears of rejection, and they seek out positive people to help them stay motivated to keep doing what it takes to succeed. This is important in other aspects of life as well. The people around you have an amazing impact on your view of life. When you surround yourself with negative or cynical people, you become negative and cynical. On the other hand, when you surround yourself with positive, self-confident people, you become positive and self-confident. The choice is yours. I choose to surround myself with positive people. Not only do they help my self-confidence, they are more fun to be around. The common sense career success coach point here is simple. No one can go it alone. Follow the career advice in Tweet 49 in Success Tweets, “Surround yourself with positive people. Hold them close. They will give you energy and help you create the success you want and deserve.” Positive people are great. They feel good about themselves and life in general. They are enthusiastic – and their enthusiasm is contagious. When you surround yourself with positive people. You’ll become more positive and enthusiastic. And, you’ll be on your way to creating the life and career success you want and deserve. Who are the most positive people you know? Get to know them better, spend more time with them. This post was originally published on an earlier date. Career success confidence image from Bigstock

You like your job. You like your company. You’re a great performer. The next step is a management job. Right? Not so fast. Before you post or apply for a management job, you need to think about if a management job is right for you. That fact that you’re a great salesperson, engineer, or financial analyst doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be a great manager. In fact, your ability to succeed in an individual contributor role may actually work against you as a manager. Let me explain. Related: The Secret To Being A Great Manager Way back in the 1960’s, David McClelland, a social psychologist at Harvard, suggested that human beings have three essential needs: achievement, affiliation, and influence. His research indicated that most of us have all three of these needs, but that we differ in how important each need it to us. Why am I telling you this? Simple. Great individual performers often have a high need for achievement. Successful salespeople have a need to close sales and beat quota. Successful engineers have a high need to bring projects in on time and under budget. Successful financial analysts have a high need to produce useful and usable reports that will help leaders make better decisions. On the other hand, successful leaders have a high need for influence. They enjoy getting work done through other people. They enjoy helping others perform at their best. They enjoy influencing key decisions. That’s why it’s a cliché that the best salespeople often make the worst sales managers. Individual contributor positions require technical skills. Managerial positions require relationship skills. I have coached over 1,000 leaders in my career. One of the biggest complaints I hear from them is, “I don’t understand why he (or she) doesn’t see what has to be done. When I was a salesperson/engineer/financial analyst, I always knew exactly what to do without being told. I just did it. Why don’t they?” What we’re seeing here is a person with a high need for achievement holding other people to his or her standards. Employees differ in what they need in order to succeed. Some need training, some need hand-holding, some need a confidence boost. Managers with a high need for achievement often have a hard time understanding this. Managers with a high need to influence welcome the challenge of helping different employees with different needs succeed in their jobs. I’m not saying that you can’t succeed as a manager if you have a high need for achievement. In fact, that need may drive you to figure out how to be influential with each of your employees. However, you will have to work harder at your managerial job – at least at first – then someone with a high need for influence. Then there are people with a high need for affiliation. These folks can have a difficult time transitioning into leadership roles, too. People with a high need for affiliation often are conflict adverse. They like harmony. They want everybody to get along. However, a big part of a leader’s job is to provide feedback to the people he or she leads. Sometimes the feedback will be negative. People with a high need for affiliation tend to have a difficult time doing this. They worry about upsetting people when they give them negative feedback. This is especially true for leaders who must manage people with whom they have previously been peers. The point here is simple. If you’re considering moving into management, or have been recently promoted, think about what drives you. If you have a high need for achievement or affiliation often you will have to go against your natural instincts to succeed as a manager. This doesn’t mean that people with high achievement or affiliation needs can’t be great managers. It does mean that they’ll have to be willing to modify their predominant style to succeed in a managerial role. This post was originally published on an earlier date.

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This post is part of the Professional Independence Project series. I remember it like it was yesterday, but it was over 25 years ago – March of 1988 to be exact. I got a call from a friend. We used to work together. Now, he and his wife were independent training and organization development clients – something I’d always said I wanted to do. My friend was working as a contractor for a large consulting firm. He said that they needed another consultant to help them on a big project and that he mention me to the project manager who thought I’d be a perfect fit. I was a little taken aback at first. I had a well-paying, although somewhat dissatisfying, job with a good company. I told him that I wasn’t sure if this was the right time for me to become an independent consultant. He said, “I thought I’d give you a call because you’ve always talked about leaving the corporate world and getting into business for yourself. Here’s a perfect opportunity, what are you waiting for?” Good question, what was I waiting for? For the past 15 years, I told myself and anyone who would listen that my dream job would be as an independent consultant and coach. Yet, I never seemed to really do anything about it. Here was an opportunity staring me in the face, and I was reluctant to pursue it. Why? I was scared. Leaving a well-paying job with a good company that had a pension program and a 401 K as well as great health benefits was a scary proposition. As I thought about my friend’s question, I realized that my fear was not a good enough reason for spending another 23 or 24 years working in a soul-sucking job just to get my 90 combination (a combination of age and years of service) that would make me eligible for a full pension. So, I spoke to the project manager. He asked if I could start on April 1. I said “yes.” I went to my boss and resigned, telling him I was leaving to start a consulting and coaching business. He told me that I was crazy. I said, “Maybe so, but at least I’ll be happy in my craziness.” That was over 26 years ago. I’m still in business for myself. I have lived the life I said I wanted when I was in my early 20’s. Every year on New Year’s Eve, I take a quiet moment for myself, raise a glass, and toast myself for making it through another year without a “real” job. The point to all this? Independence. I took my life and career into my own hands. I made a decision to follow a path that scared the hell out of me. It scared me so much that I worked harder than I had ever done to make sure I wouldn’t fail. You don’t have to take as drastic a step as I did to declare your independence. But if you want to create the truly successful career you deserve, you have to take charge of your life and career. You need to figure out…
  • What you really want to do, and where you want to do it.
  • The companies for whom you want to work. As in my case, this could mean working for yourself.
  • How to network effectively, to find people in the companies in which you’re interested or who can help you as you set off on your entrepreneurial journey.
When you declare your professional independence and take charge of your life and career, you are choosing to stop being a victim. You stop whining and complaining. You begin taking personal responsibility for yourself, your life and your career. And let me tell you, this feels great. I still have friends who stayed at the company I left. A couple of them have climbed the corporate ladder very successfully. One is on the Executive Committee – the top 20 people in a company of over 100,000 employees. He makes over $1 Million a year and has a bunch of stock options. He told me that his kids and their kids will never have to worry about money. When I mentioned this to another friend of mine who also worked at that company before starting an advertising business, he said, “That’s great for him, but just think, he had to work there for 35 years.” I thought about what my second friend said, and realized he was right. The big title, money, and stock options wouldn’t have been worth it for me. Pursuing my dream was. While I’m not as well-off financially as my friend who stayed with my former company, I am very comfortable. And, as Elvis and Frank Sinatra said, “I did it my way.” That’s what you need to do, too. Figure out what your way is, declare professional independence, and go for it. You’ll be glad you did. Trust me on this one.

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