In 1959, Dr. David Schwartz published The Magic of Thinking Big, one of the top selling personal development books of all time. More than 50 years later, this timeless advice by Dr. Schwartz continues to challenge, equip and inspire people of all ages to develop the habits of big thinkers.

My next few posts will present key highlights from this classic work. What’s especially helpful about The Magic of Thinking Big is that it delivers useful methods instead of empty promises, practical action steps instead of rhetoric, and candid advice instead of “happy hot tub talk.” If you’re serious about building your personal brand, read them with focused attention.

Think Big

Part One: Five Simple Steps to Building and Projecting Confidence.

Make everything about you say, “I’m confident, really confident” by practicing these techniques:

  1. Be a “front seater.” – Have you ever noticed in meetings, classrooms, conferences, and all kinds of assemblies how the back seats fill up first? While most people scramble to sit in back to avoid looking conspicuous, sitting up front projects confidence. Make it a personal rule to sit as close to the front as you can. You’re making a profound statement to yourself when you do, projecting a confident, purposeful intention to get the most out of the experience.
  2. Practice Making Eye-Contact. You project nothing good about yourself when you avoid making eye contact. Instead of saying, “I’m afraid, I lack confidence” conquer this fear by making yourself look into the other person’s eyes. Turn it into a habit and you cannot help but inject confidence and self-assurance into your personal brand.
  3. Walk 25 percent faster. Psychologists tell us you can actually change your attitudes by changing your posture and speed of movement. If you tend to walk slow and with poor posture, try throwing your shoulders back, lifting your head, and moving just a little faster. You can’t help but feel your self-confidence grow.
  4. Practice Speaking Up. Many people who attend meetings and conferences have much to offer but fail to speak up out of reluctance or fear of looking foolish. If you’re one of these people, make it a rule to say something voluntarily at every open meeting you attend. And instead of being the last to speak, try to be the ice breaker. You will be amazed at the impact this one action can have on your confidence level.
  5. Smile Big. This sounds overly simplistic, but try to feel deflated and smile big at the same time. You can’t. A big smile not only overcomes fear and despondency, it also influences the attitudes and opposition of others. A half-hearted smile, however, isn’t enough. Smile until your teeth show. You may have to make yourself smile at first, but a forced smile is always better than no smile—and the sense of confidence you gain from doing it consistently will change you.

Like I was when I first read them, you may be tempted to dismiss these five steps as over-simplistic. If so, remember that sometimes the most productive changes you can make in your life lie the right in front of you…and right outside your comfort zone. If you struggle at all with self-confidence, I encourage you to (a) write each step down on an index card (or text them in the “reminders” app on your smart phone) and (b) commit to practicing them as often as possible….and let me know how they work!

Question: Which of these steps come easily to you? Which ones challenge you the most? What would mastering all five confidence-builders make possible in your personal or professional life?

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