Basic Black for Self Confidence

I have just finished reading a great book, full of common sense advice for career and life success.  It’s called Basic Black: The Essential Guide for Getting Ahead at Work (and in Life).  Cathie Black, President of Hearst Magazines, is the author.

I really like this book.  If you’re serious about career and life success, you need to read it.  Ms. Black shares the story of her amazing life and career.  She tells you what she’s learned along the way.  Savvy readers will read with a highlighter to take advantage of the common sense wisdom she imparts.

The book starts strong with a great story about her first job, where she inadvertently left the original of her resume on the copier machine at work and got a call from a senior executive at the company who found it.  It ends strong too.  The last paragraph reads:

  • “And that’s the final piece of advice I’d like to leave you with.  Opportunities will come – they always do.  Trust yourself enough to jump at them.  Never be afraid to go for it.  And remember, you deserve to have the best life, and the best career, that you can have.”

In between, Ms. Black shares her thoughts on such important topics as: Drive, Risk, People, Fear, Power, Passion, Attitude and Leadership.  I like this book so much, I am going to blog about it every day this week.

Today is Monday, so this post is on self confidence.

Self confident people have three things in common:

  1. They are optimistic.
  2. They face their fears and deal with them.
  3. They surround themselves with positive people.

Cathie Black’s advice in the last paragraph of her book (above) goes directly to optimism.  Optimists trust themselves enough to jump at opportunities because, by their nature, they believe that things will work out well.

However, I’d like to spend some time discussing what Ms. Black has to say about fear.  There is an interesting quote on page 121 of Basic Black: “Use fear as a launching pad.”

I always tell people to identify their fears and then do something about them.  With this quote, Ms. Black goes me one better.  She encourages you to take your fear and turn it to your advantage.  Just don’t face your fear, make it work for you.  Great idea!  She says:

  • “Don’t fear your own fear.  Use it to propel yourself forward.  It may well become the best motivator you can find.”

I agree.  Often the things that are the most scary to us, are the things with the biggest potential payoff.  Therefore, I’m changing my advice.  Don’t just face your fears and deal with them; use them as the motivation you need to realize the success you want in your life and career.

That’s it for today.  Thanks for reading.  Log on to my website for more common sense.  Check out my other blog: for common sense advice on leading people and running a small business.

I’ll see you around the web, and at Alex’s Lemonade Stand.


PS: Speaking of Alex’s Lemonade Stand – my fundraising page is still open.  Please go to to read Alex’s inspiring story and to donate if you can.

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