On what decision, with what person or team, or when do you lack the confidence you desire?
Every person I’ve ever known or worked with lacks confidence at some time on something. The CEO who struggles with a fierce Board member. The President who’s not sure he can pull the financials through in this market. The executive who cannot seem to “turn” a relationship. The difference between the most senior folks is that they don’t show their insecurities; they’ve mastered the look of confidence.
What is Confidence…and How Do I Get More Of It?
You can’t find confidence anywhere—not on your person or in the atmosphere. Confidence is an internal conversation that affirms some aspect of our capability to produce a result. The result may be a hard result—a number, an answer, a deal or decision, etc. Or, it may be a soft result—a mood, an understanding, etc.
Confidence is a blend of how we think and how we feel. When we are confident, we might think “I can make this happen” and then feel our own unique feeling that we associate with confidence. Or, the feeling might come first, either a sinking feeling of lack or a pumped-up feeling of excitement. In that sense, we either think-feel or feel-think our way into confidence.
Three Tips for Generating Confidence
Although we can’t find confidence, we can generate it for ourselves. Three tips to help you do so:
- Catalog Your Capability—Literally, grab a sheet of paper or your trusty Evernote app and create five or more categories of capability that are important to you. Lay out what you know, how you solve problems, how you work with people, etc. Jot down examples if you need more convincing. I have never done this exercise with a client without generating tons of clear ability, skills,and knowledge—which results in new confidence. Oh, and if we have a solid catalog, we can much more clearly identify what additional capability we should develop.
- Tell Your Self Your Best Story—Pump your Self UP! No one can know better than you when you need a pep talk and on what. We talk to ourselves all the time, from the moment our alarm or the buzz of our smartphone awakens us. Notice the story you tell yourself and take more control of that influence.If your best story doesn’t shape up or a competing voice keeps interrupting you, reflect on the beliefs and historical messages that might be in the way. For example, as a young girl, I learned from my parents and community that “the teacher is nearly always right” and to be respectful of authority (especially my parents!). That messaging can translate to deference which can be viewed as not confident. I’m not suggesting you go into therapy or make it too complicated, but a reminder on any strong personal wiring can help break through your conversation.
- Imagine Your Show—Given that confidence is invisible, we have to show what we think-feel on the outside. Even when we are genuinely confident, we can send the wrong signal. If our self-dialogue is waivering into a lack of confidence, we are most likely to misstep. In either case, take five minutes at the beginning of the day or an event to set an intention and imagine the meeting or conversation with exactly the behaviors that will send a solid message of confidence.
True, authentic confidence is grounded by real capability, not a “faking” of the real thing. My message here is that you likely don’t have to fake it if you take the time to unbundle what you should and could be confident about.
Today, notice your think-feel or feel-think of confidence and how you show up in different scenarios with different people. Let me know what you notice.