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Q.
I don't always offer my ideas in meetings because I question if they're any good. How do I stop sabotaging myself?

A.
"One important key to success is self-confidence," said tennis legend Arthur Ashe. "An important key to self-confidence is preparation." Ashe, the winner of three Grand Slam titles, was exactly right. One of the best ways to demolish doubt and construct confidence in your professional abilities is through preparation. With sufficient groundwork, you'll be able to express yourself better and more competently in meetings.

To begin this process, first read and study as much as you can on the topics that might be presented in those meetings. Second, while you're studying, create a running list of the smartest and most effective takeaways from your research. Next, make a goal of bringing up at least two or three of those ideas when appropriate in your meetings. Last, note how often you inject these items into your meetings along with any positive remarks and reactions they generate.

Within a few meetings, you should see the number of positive responses start to pile up. That encouraging feedback will in turn fuel your confidence. With that spike in confidence, you'll be more motivated to contribute. Essentially, you'll be creating a recurring loop where preparation, response, and confidence each bolster the others nonstop. Offering your ideas will feel risky at first, but in the end, you'll stop sabotaging and instead start strengthening yourself.E



Dan Lumpkin, organizational psychologist, is the president of management-consulting company Lumpkin & Associates in Fairhope, AL. Need answers? Email your career-related questions to askdan@exhibitormagazine.com.
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