You have a quarter of a second for someone to make an impression of you, and then five seconds for that person to create a story about you. The way you show up, therefore, especially in the work place, has a profound impact on how others perceive you. Known by the name of personal presence, it is easily recognizable in people you are naturally drawn to, trust, and respect, mainly because they appear confident, self-aware, and comfortable in their own skins. It is these people with strong personal presence that seem to move effortlessly throughout their days, effectively navigating the day-to-day stressors, difficult situations, and irritable people.

One core aspect of personal presence is believing in yourself. By feeling confident on the inside—that you are “good enough”—you will feel empowered on the outside, which in turn positively impacts how others perceive you. This feeling of “good enough,” however, is not always so easy to come by.

Twenty years ago, I was at my first martial arts board breaking workshop. After two failed attempts, fears came rushing to the surface—fear of not being good enough, strong enough or brave enough to break the board. Fearing most of all that people would think I wasn’t good enough, I did the only thing I knew at that time and I walked away. I walked away because I was trying to use an aggressive form of power from the outside in—a façade I created because I didn’t know any other way. But, it wasn’t working for me and didn’t feel authentic.

Years later, I started to feel more confident on the inside and developed what I call quiet power. This form of power comes from the inside out, and a deep belief in yourself to break free of limiting beliefs that hold you back. More importantly, it is this quiet power that allows you to find and develop your unwavering personal presence.

One key tool to build my self-esteem was to flip the script on negative messages that I wasn’t good enough. We have over 50,000 messages floating around in our heads every day. (Yes, every day.) And, unfortunately, nearly 80% of them are negative ones. To push out these negative messages, I wrote three positive affirmations on separate Post-It notes and put them around my bathroom mirror. This might seem simple and trite, but seeing “you are enough,” “you have a lot to offer,” and “you are bold, brave and badass” every morning and evening helped me shift and then truly feel those messages.

One evening, I had a dinner party and forgot that I still had those affirmations around my mirror. A friend, Suzanne, came out of my bathroom and exclaimed: “What are these messages on your mirror for? You’re such a confident person, why do you need those?”  I chucked and shared that I appear confident on the outside because it was those very messages that help me feel confident on the inside. Then, two weeks later, Suzanne emailed me that she had put up her own messages and found they helped her to feel more confident for a successful interview she’d had.

You don’t need to go out and break a board to find your personal presence. You can begin with this easy-to-do action step of flipping the script to deepen your belief in yourself.

Action Step: Flip the Script

First, go out and buy yourself some brightly colored Post-It notes or notes in colors that resonate with you most. Use sparkly pens or any color writing tool that makes you smile. Then on each note, write down a self-affirming message that appeals to you.

For some of us, global affirmations make us smile and help us push out negative messages, and might include: I am enough, I am bold brave and badass, or I am resilient. However, some of us  require real, specific messages that connect to a situation at hand, and they might include: I am successful at facilitating meetings, I am a qualified candidate for that job promotion, or I work well with difficult people.

Once you’ve written your messages that resonate for you, put them in a place where you’ll see them every day. They can be publicly posted around a mirror or privately placed in your sock drawer. After a few days, reflect on how you’ve flipped the script on negative messages, and chances are, that how you present yourself on the outside will be buoyed by a deeper belief in yourself.