What is most powerful way to build your confidence?

Penny HaslamBlog, Confidence

What is the most powerful way to build confidence?  Confidence is a curious thing. Many of us seem to spend a huge amount of time seeking it, hoping to harness it, and then, once we've found it, desperately trying to cling on to it. And while we might believe that everyone else seems to have this confidence thing all figured out, in reality, All of us have our moments of doubt.

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The reality of confidence

The first step towards feeling genuine self-assurance is accepting a simple fact: No one feels 100% confident all the time. People who seem invincible have their moments of uncertainty too, and people who tell you otherwise are living in some sort of fantasy. 

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At work, you might observe colleagues exuding confidence - articulating their points flawlessly in meetings, managing projects with authority, and making decisions based on logical reasoning. It may be that they've got lots of experience or they just feel very aligned with what they're doing, and therefore they're more inflow at that moment.

But, just because they seem confident doesn't mean they always feel it. Until you're inside those people's heads wondering what's going on, you'll never know.

The ebb and flow of confidence

I believe recognising that confidence ebbs and flows can, ironically, be a foundation of consistent self-belief.

Yes, a lack of confidence is uncomfortable. It can be painful. It can be exposing. Your stomach might turn and your heart might race.

But, to build your confidence is to begin to observe when you don't feel great about it. At this point, it's important not to give yourself a hard time.

For example, you might lament, "Oh, if only I had more confidence when I did that big thing. I wish I'd had the confidence that I have now, having done it!"

The more self-awareness you have about this changing landscape, the more you'll grow to understand your confidence.

Unravelling Impostor Syndrome - "I can't believe I'm not the only one!"

In the late 1970s, researchers delved into the phenomenon of imposter syndrome. This is the feeling that, no matter our achievements, we're just faking it and soon someone will catch us out.  

One of the most interesting findings is that many people experiencing it believe they are the only ones feeling this way. 

When I explain this to my executive coaching clients they're often surprised it's not just them. 

In my experience, imposter syndrome is rife among leaders and executives. Both men and women feel it, and it's estimated 70% of us experience it at some point in our lives.

Talk about your confidence

The researchers discovered that one of the best ways to combat imposter syndrome was simply to just talk about it. Sharing these feelings not only alleviates personal anxiety but also helps others recognise they're not alone too.

I regularly explain to clients that in my previous career as a live TV business news presenter, I was not only frequently terrified but filled with feelings of self-doubt and imposter syndrome. People often reply, "I can't believe I'm not the only one!" 

So remember, if you're riddled with self-doubt, and questioning your decisions, when you share how you're feeling, it makes a positive difference, not just to you, but others too. 

As a leader, you may not feel you can share these feelings. Find a colleague you can trust or consider executive coaching or group executive coaching for women

 Genuine confidence doesn't come easy

In summary, the most powerful steps you can take to build confidence are to understand that everyone has moments of doubt, to reflect on your journey, and to be open with others.

These steps aren't easy. But, easy things aren't powerful things.

An easy thing would be to get yourself a notebook, with "I believe in myself," printed on the cover. I'm not knocking that, but that's not powerful. That's not going to lead to deep down, unshakable, and awesome confidence for yourself.

So, just get started. You might want to use that same notebook to reflect on your journey, how you feel about confidence, how your levels of confidence ebb and flow and under what circumstances.

But also give yourself a little bit of a boost and talk about it with others, begin conversations about it with your team, and understand that no one is 100% confident all of the time.