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The Silent Career Killer
by Jill Frank

I consider myself lucky - I am surrounded by amazing people. They can be described as smart, successful, witty, passionate, and more. So, I'm shocked when I listen to these very people put themselves down. How it is that someone who is so great can have doubts about their value? I (and most others) see their accomplishments and their potential while they worry about their perceived failures and shortcomings. A lack of self-confidence is dangerous to your career. It can manifest itself with arrogant or self-deprecating behavior. Our fears and insecurities are directly linked to our level of confidence. If you aren't confident in your abilities and the value you offer, how can you expect someone else to be? In the end, you could very well be passed up for the promotion you want.

What happens to people who are unsure of their value? At the extreme, they don't take risks and they set goals that are too low for fear of failure. Often, they don't feel that they deserve success, money, promotions, etc. and may settle for less than what is easily attainable. For people who suffer from occasional declines in their confidence level, they can be afraid to voice their opinions; focus on the disadvantages of new opportunities; and have a harder time reaching their goals.

On the other hand, successful professionals are dynamic, decisive, and courageous. How can you possess these traits without being confident?

What most people don't realize is that our actions are perpetuating the problem, not improving it. So how do you improve your confidence (if you suffer from severe self-esteem issues, I recommend seeing a mental health professional)? Check out these five tips:

1. Stop the self-sabotaging behaviors. Every time that you start to put yourself down, either in conversation or in your own head, stop. Replace that thought with a positive one. When someone compliments you, simply say "thank you." Instead of asking "why me" ask "why not me?"

2. Don't expect perfection from yourself. It's great to have high expectations, but remember that you can't be good at everything. Accept the fact that you have weaknesses - you are human. Put yourself in a position where you are building on your strengths and not overcoming your weaknesses. The more successes you experience, the more your confidence will rise.

3. Surround yourself with friends and colleagues who are supportive. Let go of relationships with people who feel compelled to point out all of your weaknesses. If you can't separate yourself from them, put it in perspective and limit your interaction with them. People like this typically make themselves feel better by putting down those they find intimidating.

4. Don't compare yourself to others. Define success for yourself and create a plan to reach your goals. Take stock of your achievements by focusing on what have you accomplished in your personal or professional life. Remind yourself of this from time to time and be proud.

5. Invest in yourself. If you don't take care of yourself, who is going to do it for you? It's amazing how much a new haircut or a new suit can affect your self-esteem. It's not frivolous to take time out of your schedule to take care of yourself, especially if doing so makes you feel better. Don't stop there. Continue to expand your knowledge and skills on whatever is important to you.

About the Author

Jill Frank is "The Promotion Coach." Get her FREE report, "7 Unintentional Actions That Will Slow Your Climb Up the Corporate Ladder" and FREE advice on corporate advancement at


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