Be confident in your ability and accept praise when its offered

Mark Lee explains how you can boost your self-esteem and so your business.

Do you consider yourself to be a confident person generally? What about in terms of your ability to attract and win over prospective clients? And to keep clients happy and willing to pay you the fees you deserve for the work you do?

I’ve noticed occasions when a lack of self-confidence prevents accountants making decisions that are then continually deferred; it also makes them nervous about contacting certain clients and scared of quoting realistic fees.

While many accountants I work with have a fair degree of confidence, there are also some I have mentored for whom a lack of confidence was an issue. And it’s not something that ever changes overnight. But with help you can change how you feel about yourself.

Building your confidence starts by accepting that you are better than you think, when someone who knows you and knows enough other accountants (like me) tells you honestly that you’re at least as good as average – possibly better. But you can also boost your confidence alone. Here’s a few tips I have encouraged accountants to adopt – and which I have been told have worked for them:

• One popular technique is to get a character, toy or figurine to keep on your desk. Think of them as your Positive Reinforcer (PR). When that negative voice in your head saps your confidence, imagine your PR guy/gal encouraging you onwards.

• Keep a note of every success. Each day, note down these Positive Reinforcements (PR) to remind you of when you make things go well, so that you can focus on these – and NOT on the times when things don’t go so well. Review your PR notes – especially before your next interaction with a client where your lack of confidence has previously weakened you.

• Celebrate your achievements so that you spend less time dwelling on the other occasions which didn’t go so well, but which contained valuable lessons. Note them down as Positive Reinforcement (PR) of lessons learned.

• Accept praise and compliments. You do deserve them. Do not dismiss them. The ‘imposter syndrome’ is very common in all walks of life. You do deserve the success you enjoy.

• If all else fails, fake it. Even if you don’t feel particularly confident, act as if you do. You may be pleasantly surprised at how positively this can affect people’s reactions to you. There’s also another good reason to practice faking confidence. I have also heard it said that the more you practice acting in a confident manner, the more it will increase your inner confidence.  ust ensure you don’t come across as arrogant. And also be careful you don’t give definitive advice when you are not really confident it is 100% correct.

Confidence is self-perpetuating. Once you have it, you can use it to push yourself to succeed, which will build your confidence even further. If you have been lacking in self-confidence I hope the tips and insights in this article help you to start turning the corner.

• Mark Lee FCA mentors sole practitioners who want to evolve their practices. ICPA members can also book a free initial call via this link: www.calendly.com/ bookmarklee/icpahotline

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