Have you ever felt that your confidence was holding you back from getting that bigger role, promotion or higher pay? And have you ever wondered how others manage to look confident, even in the most challenging and stressful situations? How do they do it? (It's it really annoying, isn't it?)
The link between confidence and career progression is widely documented. So why is confidence so important. In a business environment that's in a constant state of flux, being confident to take on something new is crucial, no matter what your profession, industry or sector. The good news is confidence is NOT something you're born with despite others giving the impression that it's a natural gift - this is simply not true! This fact alone has enormous positive implications for your career or business prospects.
So what's standing in the way of YOU and having the confidence to be all you can be and reach your true potential - it's the F word - FEAR! Fear is not the enemy, but rather a natural human emotion. The real enemy is lack of courage. Confidence therefore is about having the courage to do new things and step into the unknown. The world number one tennis player, Novak Djokovic, illustrates this point beautifully when talking about how he gets through those 'clutch moments' (which all of us have in our business & personal lives!): *"The first thing is to make sure you are in the moment. That's much easier to say than to do. You have to exclude all distractions and focus only on what you are about to do. In order to get to that state of concentration, you need to have a lot of experience and a lot of mental strength. You are not born with that. It is something you have to build by yourself".
Now for the HOW to crack the confidence code, moving from a position of fear, to building courage and finally to taking that scary action. Here are my top tips:
1. Get over the fear by knowing your higher purpose - You have to think about what you will achieve - the end goal or outcome - by getting over that fear and taking action. Now with 30+ years experience in business, I make sure my voice is heard so that I could have a positive impact on others, including clients. My younger self, however, was very shy and timid but then I realised (with the great advice of someone who I now see was a mentor!) that I've got to speak up if I want to make a difference, influence others and 'have a seat at the table'. Being held back by our fear prevents us from being all that we can be.
2. Tap into your courage memory bank - I think this is what Djokovic was referring to when he mentions having experience. Think back on those times when you were in perhaps an adverse situation and you had the courage to take the difficult action. If you've done it once you can do it again! Visualising those past moments of overcoming tough times slows your heart rate and can focus the mind on the new task at hand!
3. Give yourself regular pep talks - What key words work for you? For me it's simply "I CAN do this". Combining that with a repetitive activity you enjoy is even more powerful. I love running so if I'm about to face a stressful situation that requires courage I go running (with positive music streaming through my headphones) and repeat that mantra "I CAN do this!". Figure out what routine works for you - we're all different. The speaker, writer and behavioural expert Marissa Peer suggests looking in the mirror every morning and saying "I am enough". Sometimes we are so hard on ourselves - this is a good reminder that we are in fact enough. Be careful how you speak to yourself - YOU are listening.
By cracking the confidence you are taking back control of your personal and professional life. You are no longer letting the circumstances dictate the future. YOU are deciding how you're going to react and how you're going to behave. And if things don't quite turn out as you hoped, then what? Try again... you've had a good practice run - it's sure to go better the next time. And just think you had the courage to do something, rather than make excuses why you "can't" do something. That in itself is something to store in your memory bank!
*Source: Lunch with the FT, Peter Aspden, 15 October 2015