I Need More Confidence
How we can build confidence through continual bold action.
Do you wish you could feel more confident?
Do you find yourself feeling fear before something important?
The subject of "confidence" comes up regularly with my clients in various situations. A client might be going for a job interview and needs to nail a presentation. Maybe there's a situation at work, and they need to have a frank conversation with their boss.
Whatever the situation, we are always looking for more confidence...but what does it mean to be more confident? One definition is:
"Having or showing a mind free from doubt."
That sounds amazing. A mind free from doubt! Let's dive into this a little deeper. In other words, having doubt is the same as having fear, and fear is the stories we tell ourselves about how a situation could go wrong.
One of my clients is in a leadership position. Being a leader means inspiring your team, being trustworthy, and being self-assured. People won't follow or trust a leader that is unsure of themselves.
This client had approached me about getting more confidence to lead. We dived into the internal fears he was telling himself, and it turned out he was experiencing "imposter syndrome". In other words, he did not feel he deserved his position. Digging a little deeper exposed the real reason. My client had a deep-seated belief that he needed to have the answer to every question his team posed. We managed to distil the fear down to a single phrase:
"I must have the answer to every question, or else my team will realise I'm a fraud".
That's quite a debilitating story. Now that the fear had been named, I wanted to know how much truth was in the fear. I asked: "so for you to have more confidence, you need to make sure you have the answer to every possible question your team ask?"
There was a brief lightbulb moment and nervous laughter. A realisation that there's no wonder he felt like an imposter as having the answer to every possible question is impossible and totally out of his control.
Now that we knew the fear, I wanted to see how much truth was in his fear statement. I requested, "go and ask your team if they think you need to know the answers to all their questions".
Ouch! You can imagine the type of response I got. There was a lot of resistance around looking weak and being vulnerable...and that's the point!
"For us to have confidence, we need to have courage first."
The definition of courage is "The ability to do something that frightens us".
If we never step out of our comfort zones into uncertainty and vulnerability, we will never develop confidence from those experiences.
Consequently, the stories my client had told himself were utterly unfounded. By courageously calling a meeting, he talked to his team about what they saw his role as. It turned out the team saw his job as a facilitator to use the team's expertise to solve problems collectively.
Just like that, a huge weight had been shifted from my client's mind. By having a courageous conversation with his team, he now felt clear and confident about his role by facing the fear story he told himself.
To be confident, we need to take bold action in the face of our fears. The more courageous action we take, the more we grow, the more we grow, the more we learn to be confident.
Here are the steps I take when clients are looking for more confidence in any situation:
1. Name the fear - Complete the sentence "I must ______ or else ______ will happen!" For example, "I must be perfect delivering my presentation or else they won't offer me the promotion".
2. Challenge the fear - Your fear is based on an assumption so find a way to get curious about whether the assumption is accurate. In the example above, you could approach colleagues about your presentation skills. Share your fear statement and ask for feedback. This takes courage and vulnerability.
3. Positivity - Think about all the ways this situation could go well. We spend so much energy worrying about what could go wrong that we experience those emotions in our bodies. Instead, reflect on times presentations have gone well and own them. This will change your physical state.
4. Get present - Do whatever you need to get in the moment. I like to go for a walk to clear my head before a presentation.
5. Have courage and a growth mindset - confident people fail more and learn from their failures. Having confidence comes from your experience of doing uncomfortable things. People are generally scared of the F-word, so change the perspective of F.A.I.L to:
First Attempt In Learning
In summary, confidence will come from taking continued bold action against your fears. Most of the time, when clients are looking for more confidence, they're asking, "how do I make this situation less scary". They are looking for more courage to step into uncertainty to have more confidence in the future.
If what I've shared here has landed for you and you struggle with confidence, please click this link. I want to help you turn that around.
Here's to your journey.