Finding Inner Confidence
Confidence is built by taking action; facing our fears and taking small steps to move forward and overcome a situation.
Confidence in the workplace....
Let's discuss confidence in the workplace and personal perception. Understanding where you are with these and how to improve them is something that will help propel you towards success.
We hear about confidence all of the time and often will use this word in a sentence when describing our comfort level with doing a task. For example "I'm confident I can finish this proposal by the end of the day", or "I'm not that confident to lead the meeting by myself".
We think we have a fairly good understanding of what it is and where we are with it.
So, for the avoidance of doubt, let's look at a definition.
"the feeling or belief that one can have faith in or rely on someone or something."
Therefore, inner confidence grows upon on us being able to rely on our own abilities. Within the workplace, confidence is especially important as quite often our manager's confidence in us will be just the thing that either supports us or holds us back from progressing.
Now, I want to address an elephant in the room when it comes to discussing workplace confidence, and that is the something I've named the "confidence gender gap"!
If we take a look at your average corporate environment, there have been, and still are, many disparities between men and women that have caused frustration over the years. If we use the gender pay gap as an example, many businesses are aiming to eradicate this which is great news and progress is being made.
But another example is the balance of men/women in positions of authority, such as middle management and "Heads of".
More concerning, though, is the % of women who make it onto boards of directors. I saw an article on catalyst that stated:
"An analysis of more than 8,600 companies showed women held just 16.9% of all global board seats in 2018"
Less than 17%!!
Now, making it to the board of directors might not be of interest to you personally, but the common factor with these disparities comes down to confidence.
Confidence in knowing your worth, confidence in your abilities, and confidence in articulating such,
Studies have shown that, at work, women are significantly less self-assured than men and less likely to "self-promote" through fear of negative perception.
However, as I am sure won't surprise you, this research continued to find there is no gap between performance or ability in men and women; the difference is a matter of self-perception. So, really if we want to continue to progress, confidence is just as important as competence.
So we've established the reality out there, and we can see how important it is to grow in confidence. But how do we get there?
Well, as the saying goes, it's an inside job!
Building confidence does not happen overnight! In fact, I think it's a constant work in progress. Now, it's true that once you master something it comes naturally. Let's say you lived in the same place, drove the same car, and did the same job for the rest of your life; chances are you'd become pretty confident in your day to day routine & practices.
But how does this work for the ambitious amongst us. The people striving for more, looking for change and craving adventure... You have goals and you want to achieve your best version of success. And why wouldn't you?
In order to get there, we need to accept the fact that we won't always be able to control confidence in task based situations. It's almost impossible to feel complete confidence in trying something new. If you've been focussing on building confidence in one specific area of your life, I commend you for it! But when things change and something else new comes along (a new relationship, job, child!) it's likely you'll be back to panic stations.
There's a phrase that illustrates this (I can't find who originally stated this as there's been so many iterations) and this phrase is 'New Level, New Devil'
We tend to put people who are "ahead of us" in life on a pedastal and assume they are totally confident and not at all phased by the things that plague us.
But every time you change something in life, new challenges present themselves. Life doesn't necessarily get easier we just get better. If we can learn to appreciate ourselves and channel our inner confidence, it will be so much easier to adapt to the things life throws at us!
So let's look at some tips for improving that inner confidence! I am going to include 5 tips because I think these are powerful when they become part of your routine; remember its not a "do it once and everything will be fixed" - this is about cultivating a mindset.
Get out of your comfort zone! Stretching your comfort zone results in higher self esteem.The thought of this might sound terrifying which is why it's good to start off small. Think of that thing you've wanted to do for some time, but just kept putting off. This could be anything from calling that customer who was particularly "aggy" last time you spoke, or speaking to your boss about a pay increase. You might have put it off because you didn't know how to handle it, but all we need is a bit of preparation. List all possible outcomes from doing the thing and be OK with all of them!
Try to get clear on what your worst case scenario is. Now this might sound counterintuitive, but lack of confidence simply comes from the fear of a future outcome. Write down areas of your life you lack confidence in. This doesn't have to be in the workplace. E.g. if you're lacking confidence in dating, the likelihood is that the future outcome you fear is rejection. (Spoiler alert - rejection in some way or form will most probably be the outcome for most of these fears..)
Number 3 is embrace rejection! I did an Instagram post on this a few months ago.. But basically we are talking about becoming OK with hearing "No". What am I talking about? I follow this chap online called Noah Kagan, and he created a concept called the "Coffee Challenge." Basically, you pop into your local coffee shop and after you've ordered and the barista is ringing it into the till, say "Hey, can I have 10% off?" Now, they'll usually look at you totally perplexed. And then maybe say "errm no... " Or often, "whyy.. do you have a discount card or...?" Then you just shrug and say "Nah, I just wanted to see if i could get a discount. Can I?"
Honestly, I've done this and it feels so awkward and weird at first, but after you've
(inevitably) paid full price for your coffee and scurried out of the shop, it's actually both hilarious and invigorating.
4. Personal power or personal integrity is number 4. I talk about this quite a lot with my clients as I think its a real eye opener. You see, day to day we make lots of different promises and commitments, not just to other people but to ourselves. How many of you have agreed to something with a friend or colleague knowing full well you aren't planing to do it?! When you see someone in the street "let's go for lunch soon" you probably won't make any attempt to arrange it. The same goes for our promises to ourselves. "Tomorrow morning I am going to get up early and go for a run" then when you actually wake up, you talk yourself out of it. The problem is, every time we don't follow through on a commitment, our sub-concious mind logs this as a default on a promise. And we begin to not trust ourselves. It might sound trivial, but when you want to go for something like a new job, your mind hears the commitment but doesn't believe you. Keeping your word to yourself and others is the best way to build trust in yourself and therefore confidence, and it's also kinder in the long run.
5. Make a list of 10 reasons why you are great. Do this at least once per month (weekly if you can stomach it!) and think about your skills, characteristics, things you do for others, intentions and values, something you did that made you proud. It's really important to remind ourselves of these things, but it also prompts ideas for things we can try to increase our self love.
So what now?
To recap; confidence in the workplace is important for progression and sometimes we become frustrated with what can feel like injustices. But finding that inner confidence in yourself is the first step to building long term resilience and I encourage you to start trying these tips today.
We may feel like we have to "turn up" some of our characteristics to get noticed in the workplace, but the most important thing is growing your confidence naturally and having a genuine air of surety rather than trying too hard to come across a certain way.
Remember, New level; New devil. This is not going away!