05 May Is it possible to increase confidence?
Is it possible to increase confidence?
A couple of weeks ago I was having a conversation with someone that I mentor and they asked me for recommendations to help them increase their confidence. Then in a session last week, I mentioned to the participants that over the last few years I had made a conscious effort to ‘work on myself’. They were intrigued and asked me to be more specific – what had I done?
Well, I thought to myself, this might be a good blog article, sharing some of the tools and techniques that I have used to genuinely help build and maintain a high level of confidence through the twists and turns of working for yourself and more generally being a human being!
The first thing that I would say is that it hasn’t been one thing on its own, I’ve definitely experimented and found that a multi-layered approach is what works best for me – but in short yes! It’s totally possible to increase your confidence:
My two favourite TED talks of all time that have really helped with my confidence Shawn Achor’s ‘The happy secret to better work’ and Amy Cuddy’s ‘Your body language may shape who you are’.
From Shawn’s talk I realised how important a daily gratitude practice was. Even when my resilience is waning, I can still manage to find three things that I am grateful for.
With Amy’s talk I realised the impact of your body language on the chemicals in your brain and to paraphrase her; don’t fake it until you make it, fake it until you become it.
TED talks are such a great place to start when looking for some inspirational guidance and because they are usually short clips, they are to the point and super easy to fit into your day.
Two books that have helped me professionally and also personally are Brené Brown’s ‘Dare to Lead’ and Nancy Kline’s ‘Time to Think’.
I love how Brené’s work give us permission to be authentically us. She also champions the importance of having a ‘black-belt in boundaries’ which I think is really important when working for yourself but also to support your mental well-being when we are conditioned ‘not to make a fuss’. This is a recent area that I am still working on!
Nancy’s book instilled in me the importance of owning my space and also how impactful silence can be when working with others.
A few years ago, I read the following article https://www.glamour.com/story/why-i-quit-using-the-word-just-in-my-emails
It’s an article that goes into how we come across over email. The writer explains that she used to put ‘Just’ before every sentence when emailing colleagues.
“Just checking in to see what times work for this meeting….”
“Just wondering if you have had a chance to review…”
“Just wanted to see if you had some time to chat about…”
She explains that by using ‘Just’ we almost demean what we are asking, as if it isn’t that important. If we strip out words like ‘just’, we come across as more assertive (without being aggressive) and people will take us more seriously. It implies confidence, even if you might not necessarily be feeling it.
After I read this article I started to strip out ‘just’ too – I still have to work hard to do this but I do think it makes an impact on how your emails are perceived as well as rephrasing phrases like ’sorry I’m late’ to ’thank you for waiting for me’.
You really can’t underestimate the power of self coaching. This article details practical tools you can implement to change your thoughts through the power of emotional agility.
When you consider that we speak at least 16 thousand words per day on average just imagine how many words go through our heads. Playing through scenarios that haven’t happened or are highly unlikely to happen – overthinking can be incredibly damaging to your confidence.
Something as simple as labelling those thoughts and emotions as just that, a ‘thought’ or an ‘emotion’ instead of letting it rule your brain is just one excellent tool you can use to coach yourself through a situation.
I have a handout you can download which will help you get laser focused on your goals with some coaching questions to help you work out if those goals are right for you and if they are realistic. Give it a go and let me know how you get on!
What do you think of when you hear that phrase? Self-development? Usually we think of taking courses, or qualifications to enhance our skills and knowledge. But it can give you so much more than that. When you take a course or qualification you gain confidence, make connections, you feel good about yourself, your work improves and it has an overall impact on your wellness and confidence. Self-development is about making sure you keep growing and keep moving. There is always more to learn!
Two of the things that I did that really amplified those feelings for me were completing my MBA and an ‘8 week Action for Happiness’ course. Both very different, but equally as important to improving my confidence.
And don’t forget to add courses to your list that aren’t business related. Mindfulness, hobbies or interests outside of work – in the last few years I have done courses in graffiti, modern calligraphy and photography.
Professional Coaching and Mentoring
Depending on what stage I’ve been at in business, I’ve always had either a Mentor or a Coach. A mentor is someone who is in your industry who has ‘been there and done that’. They can help you to get unstuck and create your vision, strategy and goals. Whereas a coach won’t necessarily advise, but instead help you to get to the bottom of why something might be stopping you from moving forward. They might help you with limiting beliefs and thereby your confidence.
Sometimes we just need the viewpoint of someone from the outside looking in. When we are living and breathing work, we can be too close to see where shifts need to be made.
This has been invaluable to me in business and in life.