We lost Steve Jobs last month. The world is better for him having been in it, and a little worse off now that he is no longer with us. When I think of Jobs, I am reminded of my favorite quote from my favorite playwright, George Bernard Shaw:
This is the true joy in life, being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.
This was Jobs: a force of nature. And sadly, he seemed to be pretty worn out at the end. He saw things in a different way from most people. An iPod is nothing but a hard drive and set of headphones, but it revolutionized the way we listen to music. The iTunes store revolutionized the way we buy music.
This isn’t an ad for Apple products. They speak for themselves. But Jobs’ life has some great success lessons for all of us.
Jobs was confidence personified. And self-confidence is an important key to success. Tweet 56 in my career advice book Success Tweets says, “Self-confidence must come from within. Outside reinforcement and strokes can help, but you have to build your own confidence.” Steve Jobs did just that by daring to dream big and making those dreams come true.
Self-confidence is an inside job. Self-confident people are optimistic. They face their fears and act. And they surround themselves with positive people. Let’s look at each of these in a little more detail.
I’ve heard optimism called “the creator of the future.” In many ways, Jobs created the future in which we live today. In these days of economic uncertainty and crazy partisan politics, staying optimistic can be difficult. Believe that every day is going to be a good day—and set about making it so. Believe you will succeed in every project you undertake. This optimism will fuel your self-confidence, and drive your performance.
Fear is the enemy of self-confidence. It’s also very normal. We’re all afraid sometimes. Fear can be debilitating, paralyzing you into inaction. Over the years, I’ve found how to face up to my fears and conquer them. Indecision, procrastination and inaction feed fear. Action cures it. Here are my four easy steps for conquering fear.
- Identify what you fear.
- Admit what you fear.
- Accept and embrace your fear.
- Take action to overcome your fear.
Surround yourself with positive people— people who are both positive by nature, and positive about their success in their life and career. Positive people are optimistic—and optimism is the first step in building self-confidence.
Positive people help you feel good about yourself. They are there when you begin to doubt yourself. They help you build your self-confidence because they have strong self-confidence of their own. They are not threatened by others. They realize that self-confidence is not a fixed pie. There is an unlimited amount of it to go around. Just being around them will build your self-confidence.
We all lost a good friend last month. I began this column with one quote from Shaw. I’ll close with another: “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
Jobs was an unreasonable man—that’s why he is iconic. He believed in himself and his ideas. He was incredibly self-confident. Self-confidence is an inside job. You have to create it yourself. But once you do, you’ll find that it’s an upward spiral. Your confidence will inspire you to take on challenges. Your success in mastering these challenges will help you become more confident and allow you to take on and meet even greater challenges. Look at what confidence did for Steve Jobs. It can do the same for you.