Today I want to talk about a key ingredient for personal success: Self-confidence. Let’s be honest, few people succeed in without a healthy dose of self-confidence.
Nevertheless, I have yet to meet someone that has not experienced bouts of self-doubt: from young people in their first corporate jobs to experienced leaders. It seems that nobody is immune to it. Here is my message to you: Do not let those self-destructive narratives hold you back.
So let's dive into why it's so important for your personal growth and career success. Self-confidence is defined as the “The intimate conviction that you are capable of successfully carrying out a certain task or mission, or choosing the best alternative when a problem arises”
However, I really like the definition that Professor Rosabeth Moss Canter provides in the HBR Article “Overcome the Eight Barriers to Confidence”
“Confidence is an expectation of a positive outcome. It is not a personality trait; it is an assessment of a situation that sparks motivation. If you have confidence, you’re motivated to put in the effort, to invest the time and resources, and to persist in reaching the goal. It’s not confidence itself that produces success; it’s the investment and the effort. Without enough confidence, it’s too easy to give up prematurely or not get started at all. Hopelessness and despair prevent positive action.”
If you are reading this and asking yourself “How do I develop self-confidence when the world seems such an unstable place?” Pause, take a step back, and try the following 3 tips that will help you build your confidence.
1. Believe it: The most important step is to believe in yourself. Get out of your own way and start believing that you are capable of achieving whatever you are setting yourself to do. I know this is easier said than done, however, start with knowing your strengths and values. Take an inventory. I often advise my clients to take a personality assessment such as Strengths Finder or DISC. Studies have shown that if we start with the positive, our mind will be wired to see the possibilities as opposed to focus on the shortcomings.
I also like to challenge those limiting beliefs, by asking questions such as:
Tell me about a time you faced a challenge that seemed insurmountable yet, you overcame it?
What did you learn about yourself?
What would your old-self say to you now?
More often than not, these questions prompt my clients to remember when they have faced similar challenges, and how they were able to overcome them. Here is the gist, every past experience even when you think is not applicable, has prepared you. Even in the moments when you were unsuccessful, you did not fail, you just learned a valuable lesson in personal growth.
2. Achieve it: But first prepare and practice. Prepare by using visualization and goal setting. Pilots in training tend to practice hours and hours in flight simulators. Visualization acts as simulators. Try to visualize what you want to achieve. Break it down using the SMART goal framework (which I covered in a previous article.) Be as specific as you can be and leave nothing out, including the possibility of failure. Things aren't always going to go your way, so be ready to rethink and adjust.
Next, practice. See if you can practice in smaller safer environments. If you are interviewing for that next level role, take every call as practice. If you are preparing for a presentation, ask friends to sit for a mock presentation or look for groups such as Toast Masters International. If you are rolling out a big project at work try to run it with a smaller test group first, get feedback, adjust and get to take your next action. Whatever you do, no matter what, do not lose sight of your end goal and get to achieve it!
3. Celebrate it: Finally, we get to the fun part!! Celebrate every achievement, your confidence will thank you. No matter how small the achievement is, share it with your tribe. One word of advice, there are always going to be mood killers out there. The secret? Do not give a damn.
As a final thought, I wanted to share this quote with you:
“Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself. Do not go out and look for a successful personality to duplicate it” - Bruce Lee.
One big confidence killer is self-comparison. Stop comparing yourself to others. Your journey is unique to you. You are where you need to be, and you have qualities and gifts completely unique to you. Don’t be afraid to own them.
As an added bonus, I’ll give you my last tip: seek help. If you are struggling to find your self-confidence, and you seem not to be able to get out of that rot, hire a professional coach. It worked for me and I guarantee you, it will work for you.
Remember: Believe it! Achieve it! Celebrate it! And surround yourself with people that will cheer you on the way!