There is one statement I hear from clients more regularly than almost any other… and it’s about confidence… they believe they lack confidence or they wish they had more confidence.
I relate to this so much. For most of my corporate career, I’d make the statement, “I’m not very confident” in the same way I might say, “I’m not very tall”. In other words, “that’s just the way it is, there’s nothing I can do about it”. I genuinely believed confidence was something you either had or didn’t have, and, unfortunately, I’d been absent on allocation day.
Occasionally, a friend or peer or employee would say something along the lines of, “I’m not confident like you”, to which I’d try to not look too confused, silently wondering what they were talking about. My ‘ah-ha’ moment arrived as I lamented my lack of confidence to a mentor. She literally LOL’d, then gently revealed she didn’t feel confident all the time; that, in fact no-one, regardless of their level of success or seniority, is confident all the time. Mind blown!
Of course, recognising confidence as something you can actively develop, rather than simply wish for, is one thing. Actually achieving and feeling confidence is like Pilates, meditation and any other positive habit requiring commitment and practice.
Beware the sneaky demons – fear, self doubt and judgement
In your work-life, the need to feel confident can be felt in a number of different ways. It might be about the quality of your work, articulating your value, negotiating your salary, putting yourself forward for opportunities, actively promoting your achievements or backing your decisions and opinions.
In my case, I was always reasonably confident about my ability to do good work, but the evil fear twins – judgement and failure – dogged my self-belief and limited my capacity to pursue new and potentially lucrative opportunities. Once I made the decision to work for myself, I had no choice but to tackle those fears head on, step onto the confidence treadmill and start training.
And, while I don’t want to you to think I’ve got it nailed (it’s likely to be a lifelong quest), I do want you to know you don’t have to wait until you have more energy, feel better about yourself, learn more or have more free time to start making small, positive changes. If feeling confident is something you’re struggling with, it’s absolutely possible to do something about it right now.
You can choose confidence over fear and self-doubt
1. start with clarity
We all have certain aspects of our lives and work where we don’t question our competence. Start by getting specific about just those areas where you believe you lack confidence. Then dig a little deeper – what is it about these areas that causes self-doubt? Is it to do with knowledge, experience or skills? Or is it about courage? Whatever is causing you to question your confidence, clarity is the first important step… name the beast to tame the beast.
2. turn your focus to what you’re good at
It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are in your life, you have already achieved something… more than likely many ‘somethings’. Create a list of ALL the things you’re proud of in your life. Think about all the times you felt good, received praise or were asked for your expertise. It doesn’t matter how far back you need to go or how inconsequential the achievement may seem to you… unearth them all and write them down. Take a few days about this if you need to. Keep the list handy and continue to add to it over time.
3. SHAKE OFF SOMEONE ELSE’S VERSION OF CONFIDENCE
I talk about this on repeat… but it’s such an important message. Stop trying to fulfil someone else’s vision of you, it just won’t work. When you’re trying to do something or be someone you “should” be, it’s likely every part of you will resist. That’s why it feels so hard and generates self-doubt. Understanding what you value most and your unique set of knowledge, strengths and skills, helps you to understand and accept what’s great about you.
4. defend the opposite view
Our human negativity bias means we will always tend to accept criticism, especially from ourselves! What if, the next time you start trash-talking yourself, you pause and present the opposite view. Instead of – “I didn’t get that job because I wasn’t good enough”, try “I was easily good enough for that role and the reason I didn’t get it was outside my control”. Or – “I don’t have enough experience to put myself forward for that opportunity”, instead try “the experience I have will set me up for this opportunity, and I know I can quickly learn the rest”.
5. Develop your support circle
When you’re filled with self-doubt and lacking in confidence, the worst thing you can do is surround yourself with those who reinforce this position. Think about who, in your network (personal or professional), likes you for who you are, encourages you to take action, celebrates your achievements and advocates on your behalf. If they don’t exist organically in your life, seek out opportunities to find them – like minded groups or forums, supportive colleagues, mentors or coaches. Positive encouragement and feedback provides invaluable support.
So… where will you start? If you’re struggling with self-doubt, need an objective cheerleader in your support circle, or more tips on how to develop and grow to achieve your confidence book a 30mins call. I’d love to help you stop waiting and start creating the career or business you’re meant to have.
Challenge yourself to start a new confidence habit…
If getting started feeling more confident seems a little overwhelming, try the “fake it ’til you make it” approach with one of these very simple confidence hacks –
1. Strike a “power” pose – channel your inner super-hero to reduce stress and increase your confidence
2. Smile more – a simple and instant way of feeling more positive
3. Choose a positive statement – keep it handy and repeat regularly
4. Aim to say “no” – at least once a week, no explanations, no excuses, be polite but direct
5. Find a theme song – change up your energy with uplifting music
Please let me know how you get on. I love hearing your stories and valuable insights for your best work-lives… so, please keep them coming.