What we tells ourselves (whether it is out loud or quietly in our head) can help or hinder our progress. It can help to build our confidence or contribute to shattering our confidence.
As an Executive Coach I work with managers every day who battle the negative self-talk demons. They “wish they had more confidence” to be able to put themselves forward in situations, such as contribute at their management meeting, actively put themselves forward for a promotion, and have that tough conversation they have been putting off.
There are steps one can take to help build confidence in themselves and their ability, and part of this process is a mind-set change. To think and believe you’re successful, you need to start by focusing on what success you have had that has contributed to where you are today.
Step one: Identify your past successes
Think of key areas of your life and list the successes that you’ve had; e.g. your career, your education, your family, your health etc.
Write down a few successes in each category, the size or duration of the success is not important. Focus on the things that you’ve accomplished and have been proud of.
This will help you gain a better appreciation of your talents and abilities. Perhaps be brave and share this with trusted colleagues or friends around you, to really cement those successes.
From here to really change the way you think, you need a quick way to remind yourself of how great you are. Just like cheerleaders who excite the crowd, you have to encourage your mind to believe in your personal greatness. You can do this with personal affirmations.
Step two: Personal affirmations
Affirmations are positive statements that can help you overcome self-sabotaging, negative thoughts.
To use affirmations, first analyse the thoughts or behaviours you'd like to change in your own life and career. Come up with positive, credible, present tense statements that are the opposite of these thoughts; e.g. I do add value to the team.
Repeat your affirmations several times a day, especially when you find yourself slipping into a negative thinking pattern, or engaging in a negative behaviour.
Step three: What’s important to you and where do you want to go?
It is vital to think about the things that are really important to you, and what you want to achieve with your life, your career (or current role), and your family.
Setting and achieving goals, objectives, or a vision is a key part of this, and real confidence comes from achieving these.
Objective setting is about setting yourself targets, and measuring your successful hitting of those targets, and of course celebrating when you do so!
Step four: Use your strengths to overcome your blockers
It’s important to recognise that you will make mistakes during this process. Keep in mind that these are opportunities, not failures.
By reframing these experiences, you create more opportunities to achieve your objectives, improve your skills, and step closer to your dream vision or outcome.
Once you have worked out what you are really good at (your strengths, from step one), leverage those strengths and do more of them, rather than focusing on what you haven’t done.
The reality is I’ve come across more people that focus on what’s not working, rather than what is. They focus on the one piece of constructive (seen as negative) feedback they received in their feedback review, rather than the nine pieces of positive feedback.
Step five: Commit to yourself
There are many things that you can do to improve your level of self-confidence, and the most important is first believe in and back yourself. If you don’t, who will?
Remember that self-confidence and self-belief is vital for your success. Without it you’ll struggle to be successful.
Some people seem to be born with an abundance of self-confidence, however it isn’t a genetic predisposition, and you can develop it yourself.
I read recently that building self-confidence is like climbing a spiral staircase. Simply start climbing, keep going, and walk step-by-step until you reach the top!