Self belief is an essential quality in all great leaders. But self certainty is what separates great leaders from elite leaders. Many have never heard of self certainty. It’s a simple differentiator with massive impact on results and opportunity.
What got you here won’t get you there. As you move up the ladder of success, you have to learn the skills of the next level. It’s no longer about being the best at what you do. That’s expected of great leaders. Differentiation comes from those elite skills that separate good from great, and great from elite.
Self certainty is a defining quality of elite leaders. You know it when you see it, feel it and hear it. It’s one of the reasons why a less knowledgeable or qualified candidate rises in the candidate pool to get the top job. It’s the “it” factor that can propel your career or business when its present. When its absent It can also cause frustrating stagnation in your forward momentum.
So, what is self certainty? How does it differ from self belief? How do you move from self belief to self certainty? And, what are the pitfalls you must avoid on your path to self certainty? NextWorldLeader has your answers.
What Is Self Certainty?
Self certainty is a secret source of strength in elite leaders. Those with self certainty have an absolute inner knowing. They know they have best-in-class skills and judgement. They anchor the core of their identify to those skills. Then, those elite leaders express from the inner strength those skills and judgement gives them.
Elite leaders know who they are. When you know who you are, you have a strength and conviction others can feel. They are resolute. They speak with power. And it’s that certainty that makes people want to follow them.
Self certainty is an inner conviction beyond what self belief can provide. No manner of external forces can reduce your self certainty. It’s absolute trust in your abilities at all times and in all circumstances.
How Self Belief Differs from Self Certainty
You’re already familiar with self belief. You already have plenty of it to reach this stage of success. You trust in your skills, have high self confidence and a healthy opinion of your self worth. You believe in your ability to get things done.
Self certainty is self belief without self doubt. It’s knowing who you are and deeply committing to the absolute strongest and best version of yourself. If self belief is wood, self certainty is steel.
Just as there are different levels of self belief, there are different levels of self certainty. In normal everyday activities, the individual with self belief gets things done. But when the moment calls for it, the individual with self certainty takes command, decides, and owns the results with strength. There is no self doubt.
4 Steps to Move from Self Belief to Self Certainty
No one is born self certain. We all have a backstory that includes pain, failure, and hard lessons. For most people, it’s enough to get to a place of strong self belief. However, that’s not enough if you want to move from great to elite. You must move into self certainty. The person with the strongest self certainty affects everyone else around them. Be that person.
Step 1: Remember what got you this far
You’re already successful. Success is the pursuit of a worthwhile dream or goal AND the attainment of high quality results along the way. That’s what you’ve already done. Think about the overwhelming challenges you’ve faced, and conquered. Consider all of the difficult people from your past whose respect you’ve earned. Remember the outstanding results you’ve achieved and the awards you’ve won.
Remember what it took to get this far. You became a person you can be proud of. You’re successful right now. The odds were against you, and you’re winning anyway. There were stumbles, mistakes and obstacles. They’re all in your rear view mirror, or will be soon.
You are enough, and you’ve proven that time and time again.
Step 2: Accept self doubt, then kill it
No matter how many successes you have in your past, self doubt still creeps into your present. The root of self doubt is the fear of failure. But why fear failure when you’ve already failed and overcome in the past? None of us have a perfect record. We’ve all failed or made mistakes, then come back to overcome them. Why should now be any different? Why should it be any different in the future?
Understand that what knocks you down doesn’t have to keep you down. Commit to always coming back stronger. Know that there will be mistakes in the future, and that you’ll overcome them too. Accept that self doubt exists, then kill it through the antidote of your commitment to succeed no matter what.
Self doubt’s only function is to make you question yourself. It serves up a dish of fear, but you can choose not to consume it.
To kill self doubt, starve it through inattention. Self doubt thrives on the energy you feed it. Cease your focus on thoughts based in self doubt, and self doubt withers away.
Direct your attention towards self certainty. Know that everything that happens serves to make you better, stronger and smarter. You don’t have to like what happens. You do have to learn from it, grow from it, and move forward to succeed. Feed your self certainty by placing your attention constantly upon it.
Step 3: Commit to who you are and what you’ll do
It’s time to end false humility. The definition of humility is “freedom from pride or arrogance”. False humility is deflecting praise we truly deserve or being internally self deprecating. That ends today.
Accept yourself as the strong, well accomplished and highly skilled person that you are. You wouldn’t hesitate to compliment someone else that is highly accomplished and skilled. Why do you deny yourself the very thing you give away to others? It’s time to leave false humility by the wayside.
Once you accept yourself as the All-Star you are, commit to being that All-Star at all times. Allow all of your behaviors and actions to flow from the core of who you are. Commit to being the best version of who you are at all times. No exceptions.
Step 4: Create and repeat your Certainty Statements
Certainty Statements are affirmations on steroids that are unique to you. Simple, well written certainty statements can jump start your day and supercharge your interactions. They empower you with the clarity of who you are as the highest version of yourself.
It’s recommended that you have no less than 3 certainty statements. They should be stated as positive “I am” statements. Each “I am” statement should energize you. If it doesn’t energize you, rewrite or replaced it until you have an “I am” statement that does.
At a minimum, repeat all of your certainty statements early in the morning three times. You can do this when you first wake up, as a part of a morning meditation, or while while looking in the mirror. They can be repeated silently to yourself with focus or out loud with feeling, passion and empowering body language. Repeat them how and when it resonates best for you to do so.
Your certainty statements can also be repeated before any major events. Repeat them before delivering a major presentation, before important client meetings, while preparing for a meeting with your management or Board of Directors, and before any contentious conversation.
Examples of certainty statements might be as follows:
Religious or spiritual: “I am a child of …..”
Business – present oriented: “I am the number 1 ‘fill in the blank’ in my company”
Business – future oriented: “I am the next CEO of my company”
Skills focused: “I am an expert in….”
Money based: “I am receiving X dollars into my life easily”
Industry leadership: “I am X industry’s top leader”
There are some easy traps to watch for when creating your own private certainty statements. First, ensure they are all positive and stated in the present tense. That includes certainty statements that are more future focused.
Next, watch out for negative root words. We have many words that have a negative connotation at its root and are changed to positive sounding words through a prefix or suffix. As an example “Effortlessly” has at its root “effort”.
The issue with these words is that our subconscious has to hear the root word first, and then its opposite meaning prefix or suffix. Our brains hear “effortlessly” as “effort + not”. To error on the side of caution, let’s not add obstacles to our process.
Instead, find words that are 100% positive that provide the feeling of ease and natural progression. As an example, instead of “effortlessly”, try “easily”, “freely”, or “regularly”.
Another trap to watch out for is the use of “best”. You may be tempted to add certainty statements that say “I am the best….”. These statements are used to compare others to yourself which creates the perception of the best and then all others.
There are two concerns with using “best”.
The first concern with using “best” is that its possible that you can be better than everyone else, but not be your personal best. Certainty statements are directed at your highest possibilities of self. Being the best doesn’t mean you are YOUR best. Don’t limit yourself to just being better than the others that happen to be in your sphere.
The other concern with using “best” is that you can be the best and not be #1. We all know singers, athletes and business professionals that are better than those made famous and wealthy for such skills. There are many factors to becoming the top of a field. Being the best helps, but isn’t the only determining factor. You can be #1 without being the best.
Lastly, don’t confuse certainty statements with goals. Certainty statements speak to who you are. Goals speak to what you’ll do. What we do flows from who we are.
You can be great with great goals and the relentless pursuit of them. To become elite, you need self certainty first so that your goals flow from your highest sense of self.
Pitfalls to Avoid
There is a dark side to self certainty. It’s name is closed-mindedness. You can be the smartest person in the room and open minded simultaneously. In fact, you have to be. Nothing undermines self certainty more than massive failure at your own hands.
There are things you can do continuously to allow yourself to remain self certain while avoiding the traps self certainty can set.
Never stop listening
Your perspective isn’t all encompassing. You need a chorus of diverse voices around you that can fill in your blind spots. Everyone has different triggers for concern. That means we all react differently to different stimuli. Remaining open minded to the risks and issues your team sees makes good business sense. It allows you to keep a 360 degree view on your business, the industry, and the risks that sometimes seem to come out of nowhere.
Never stop self development and improvement
Self certainty doesn’t mean self perfection. Always be improving. Once you’re ahead, you must stay ahead. There’s always someone else coming for your spot in the industry and/or within your company.
New technologies create new necessary knowledge and skills to learn. Problems in other industries can become problems in yours. And your least favorite skills gap could become your greatest hindrance.
Assess your current personal vulnerabilities. Learn your way through them to develop new skills. Apply those new skills daily. Review your results. Adjust where necessary. Then repeat.
Never stop adapting
Today’s perfect solutions are tomorrow’s outdated business models. Change is certain. Fast change is becoming more certain. There is no time to stop and breathe. Once you’ve found a business model, an adaptation or a solution that works, start searching for its next iteration. The dustbin of history is littered with great leaders and businesses that stopped adapting and pivoting and were innovated out of business.
Innovation is your friend. Accept that you must be endlessly innovating. It’s in finding new and different ways to serve your clients where you’ll find longevity. Stagnation today is business and career death tomorrow.