Is confidence holding you back from being more successful at work? You can be successful regardless of your confidence levels.
Many successful people don’t have the confidence we imagine them having. Numerous people I consider to be extremely successful have told me how they still have to look themselves in the mirror each morning and tell themselves, “You’ve got this. You can do it.” So how do they do it? Here are four ways to drive your own success if you feel you need more confidence.
1. Choose courage over confidence. Confidence is not something that we can just choose. It’s something that builds over time. So waiting to do something until we feel “ready” can actually hold us back. It’s in the “doing” that people find their confidence. Starting from a market stall, Innocent Drinks now produces more than a million smoothies a day. Co-founder, Richard Reed, recently wrote a book, “If I could tell you just one thing…” to share advice from some of the world’s most remarkable people (and donate the royalties to charity). Speaking with us at the LSE last week, he disclosed how so many of the interviewees, some of the most influential people across a wide range of fields, didn’t always feel confident. They often just had a purpose and a big goal driving them. Don’t wait for confidence. Choose to step out, be courageous and you’ll likely find your confidence grows on the way.
2. Decide that comfortable isn’t the goal. We often want to be “more confident” so that we don’t feel nervous. We naturally want to avoid the negative psychological and physical effects that come with being nervous. Believe me, I know. The first time I presented in front of people as a young consultant, I hyperventilated and was taken from the client office to hospital in an ambulance! But comfortable shouldn’t be the goal (although learning not to hyperventilate was certainly important for me for future public speaking). If our goal is career advancement and professional development, we’re going to be continually stepping out of our comfort zone. So decide that feeling comfortable can actually be the opposite of your goal.
3. Recognize that confidence is something that comes and goes — for everyone. Being confident isn’t a place or point in time we suddenly arrive at. It builds over time, but it also waivers. We all take knocks to our confidence. What’s important is to not feel bad about yourself for experiencing a lack of confidence. This can trigger a downward spiral including wider self-doubt and a sense of helplessness. Recognize that taking a knock to our confidence is something we all experience at times. This means you choose to see your lack of confidence as a current experience but not a self-label. With this, you can start to generate solutions for how to gain back your confidence. Here we can experience an upward spiral effect, with energy-boosting positive emotions and a greater sense of powerfulness.
4. Go beyond the defeating self-talk of “I lack confidence.” If confidence is something that grows and changes, there are things you can do to intentionally build it. The thing is, there’s no “one stop shop” — it’s different for all of us because the things that make us have less confidence are different. Reframing the self-talk, “I lack confidence” to instead asking yourself, “What would give me greater confidence?” is the starting point. Is it being more informed about your industry? Make specific plans to grow in your knowledge. Is it not having the experience of others around you? Be intentional with how you can broaden and expand your experience. Is it nervousness at public speaking? Take courses and look for small-step opportunities to expand your comfort zone. Don’t focus on not having enough confidence, focus on what you can do practically to grow.
Confidence is not something that comes with having a certain personality type. You don’t have to be someone different in order to be more confident. And you don’t have to wait for confidence in order to take active steps to move forward in your career. Remember that lots of “successful people” don’t have the confidence we imagine them to have. Choose courage instead and watch your confidence grow with you on the journey as you step out.