Confidence. Some people are just born with it and others aren’t. Right?
Wrong! Like many things, confidence is a trait we can develop. It’s not fixed. You might have noticed there are times and situations you feel more confident, and times when you feel the opposite.
So how can you have more of the former and less of the latter?
For me, it has been (and continues to be) a journey. Here are some of the things that have helped me when I have had a confidence dip:
1. Self-reflection. It helps me to take time to reflect on the situations where I have felt less sure of myself and understand why. I free write my thoughts on paper. No one else needs to see it but the process of writing helps me pinpoint key learnings. For example, I recently felt unsettled by an interaction with someone and my confidence was impacted. I was starting to question whether my reaction was warranted. I gave myself some time, didn’t rush into responding. I reflected and worked through my thoughts.
2. Talk about challenges with a confidante. In the example above, after reflecting solo, I talked the situation through with a friend who is also a coach who knows me well and is able to support and challenge me. She helped me realise the situation was compromising my personal values, something I am not comfortable with doing.
3. Act in line with your values. It is so much easier to succeed when we believe in what we are doing. If our values are compromised, we are unlikely to be thriving and full of confidence. If this is a regular occurrence we need to work out if we need to remove ourself from the situation (or role / organisation in the long term).
4. Acknowledge your inner critic and aim to quieten it. You know, that niggling voice in your head that at times sounds like it’s booming. Check out this TEDx talk – ‘This talk isn’t very good. Dancing with my inner critic.’ By Steve Chapman, which highlights the importance of learning to dance with our inner critic rather than to fight it (because we will probably never be able to overcome it.)
5. Get to action. A certain amount of reflection, talking and preparing is wise, however our confidence won’t grow until we do the thing! Whatever it is that we are afraid of – the meeting, the presentation, the difficult conversation, the interview. Practicing can be super helpful, ideally in a safe space. I used to get really nervous about doing live online sessions until I forced myself to do Facebook Live broadcasts in my group (a friendly audience) and now I am so much more confident. When you have coped with tech failures and survived your confidence grows. Now online sessions are 40% of my business revenue.
6. Use your strengths. We are all different, but when we use our energising strengths, we will feel more confident and resilient. These are things we are good at and that energise us (as opposed to our skillset, which in many cases can drain us). I recommend Strengths Profile if you would like to learn more and they offer a free starter profile.
7. Be aware of your body language. Our nonverbal communication impacts how others view us. It can also impact how we feel about ourselves. If you haven’t already watched Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk ‘Your body language may shape how you are’ do check it out. She shares the concept of faking it until you become it through high power poses which can improve your performance in high stress situations. (There have been some challenges to elements of study including on sample sizes, so try it and see if it helps you.)
I certainly found those power poses helpful when I was on countdown to a Facebook Live broadcast!
8. Choose to adopt a growth mindset. The concept comes from Carol Dweck’s book Mindset which is a great read. People with a growth mindset believe intelligence can be developed, that you can get better at things through acting on feedback and seeing everything as a learning opportunity. They believe attitude and effort determine everything. Adopt this attitude in relation to your confidence. Believe you can get more confident. You will. My earlier blog ‘What is a growth mindset and how can it help you?’ shares more on this.
9. Celebrate your successes. Driven people are sometimes the worst at this because they are already off onto the next thing, but by remembering to take a moment to acknowledge our achievements, it can really help to boost the confidence. Let yourself enjoy it for a short while before moving on.
A wobble won’t last forever but can feel really tough when you are in the middle of it. Take some time, be kind to yourself and talk to someone.