Recently, while leading a series of early morning sessions with our employees known as “Compass” meetings (the term “compass” reflects our aim of aligning our company culture towards “True North”), I noticed that during every session, as people entered the room, the vast majority went straight to the back seats. This is certainly not unique to these meetings — I notice this happens at nearly every engagement or conference I attend.

It reminded me of one of the best self-development books I’ve ever read, The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz, first published in 1959. Among the dozens of practical insights in this classic field manual on how to present the best version of yourself, one of my favorites is what Dr. Schwartz calls “Be a Front Seater.” He writes:

“Ever notice in meetings–in church, classrooms, and other kinds of assemblies–how the back seats fill up first? Most folks scramble to sit in the back rows so they won’t be ‘too conspicuous.’ And the reason they are afraid to be conspicuous is they lack confidence. (But) sitting up front builds confidence. Practice it. From now on make it a rule to sit as close to the front as you can. Sure you may be a little more conspicuous in the front but remember there is nothing inconspicuous about success.”

Ever since I first read The Magic of Thinking Big two decades ago, I have tried to follow his advice, especially at conferences and in other learning environments. He’s 100% right. Not only do I feel more confident when I purposefully pass the back seats and take my place up front, but I find that I pay closer attention and thus glean more from the experience than sitting in the back.

How about you? Do you think a small habit change like this– sitting in front–can make a difference in your confidence? Do you tend to be a back seater, front seater, or somewhere in between? Let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment here.