Lately I’ve been thinking about confidence. It’s something that I always assumed you either had, or didn’t have. I’d never spent much time thinking about what I had done to build my confidence but certainly could point to situations that had eroded it. Since becoming an entrepreneur (which is an exercise in confidence bashing), I’ve learned that confidence is something that you have to be incredibly purposeful about building and maintaining. As leaders, it’s important that we continually be galvanizing our confidence in order to instill the same in our teams. Here are some techniques that have worked for me:
- Focus on what you’ve accomplished, not what’s on your “to-do” list… a sure-fire way to find yourself in the valley of despair, frustration and dejection is to focus on everything you haven’t accomplished. Especially when you’re up against relentless performance targets and missed milestones. Focus on what you’ve done to-date to build the mindset of confidence you need to tackle the to-do list.
- Ignore the “Joneses”… one of the fastest track to doubt and personal dissatisfaction is to compare yourself to others. Sure, sometimes people can spur you on and motivate you to strive higher, but other times you can expend a ton of energy worrying about what they’re doing and not focusing on what you should be doing. Run your own race.
- Strike a pose… Professor Amy Cuddy of Harvard purports that striking a “power pose” a la Wonder Woman and holding that pose for 2 minutes can increase your testosterone and reduce your stress hormones thus tricking your body into “feeling” more confident. Try it next time you have a high stakes meeting.
- Reflect on the positive… when times are tough, I’ve found it helpful to take a few minutes each day to reflect on what has been positive in my day. Filling yourself with good energy helps keep your confidence up.
- Separate fact from fiction… negative experiences and comments can undermine our confidence, especially when we allow our own inner critics to run away with them. Don’t feed into your inner critic dialog. When you hear that nasty voice pop up, ask yourself “is what I’m worrying about fact or fiction”? This is a great technique to separate your emotions from the facts and to help you see career blunders in a more neutral way. Letting go can be difficult, but remember… it’s all about…
- Progress, not perfection… leadership is a journey. You’re going to have good days and days you wish you could do over. This is called “being in the game”. There will always be plenty of people on the sidelines critiquing your performance, but you’re the one who’s out their trying. Be kind to yourself and remember that when we know better we can do better.
What confidence building strategies work for you? Would love to hear them.