Stop Stressing About Your Lack of Confidence

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At the end of every professional development experience that we deliver, we distribute a feedback form. Feedback is a gift, after all. One of the questions on that form has a list of our programs and asks people to circle the ones that interest them. Almost every single time, the title that is circled by the most people is Fight Your Confidence Killers.

We’ve written about confidence before (see here, here and here for lots more). We know confidence is a problem most people struggle with; a perceived barrier that makes all of us weak or less gutsy. At wolf & heron, we often share advice on how to build your confidence, but today we’re going to focus on the alternative...

Ignore the issue altogether. So you’re not confident. It doesn’t really matter. Ain’t nobody got time for that. It’s time for you to fake it till you make it. Thank goodness for that old chestnut.

This is not always the rule, but this is a “tool in your tool box” of how to succeed. Sometimes you know what you’re doing and you can confidently stride forward with gravitas and surety. And sometimes you don’t.

We define confidence as what bridges the gap between having a plan and taking action. So stop focusing on confidence and start focusing on taking action. Just the other day we were coaching a woman through her struggle to prioritize what to do next in her job search. The problem wasn’t the prioritization, though… the problem was she was too afraid to just do it… and that’s the gap between knowing what to do, and just doing it.

Here are some ways to stop stressing about your lack of confidence, and just make it happen.

Reflect and clarify

  • Make a list of what makes your confidence killers rear their heads. Check each off as your conquer them.
  • Know your values and what you stand for. Set boundaries when others ask you to compromise your values. The truer you are to yourself, the more confident you will be.
  • Get clear about the cost of not doing it.
  • Get clear about the advantages of doing it.
  • Write yourself S.M.A.R.T. goals. They should be specific,  actionable, measurable, reasonable, and time-bound.
  • Write affirmations and repeat them often.
  • Know your strengths and leverage them.
  • Know how to speak to your strengths.
  • Share your fears with someone who will not judge you.
  • Ask for advice.

Plan and schedule

  • Schedule when you will do it, and put it on your calendar.
  • Set up micro-tasks to make each step toward the goal more approachable. Focus on one thing at a time.
  • Do the hardest things you need to do each day as your first activity in the morning.
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Practice and test

  • Write a script.
  • Practice in a safe place. Start by practicing alone, then ask close friends or family to be a test audience.
  • Prototype your idea: figure out ways to test your thinking before putting it all out there.
  • Stand for a few minutes in a power pose. It increases your testosterone and decreases your cortisol levels, making you physiologically more capable of handling stress effectively (see Amy Cuddy’s TED talk).
  • Make eye contact (but not too much) to build a friendly relationship with the people around you.

Celebrate and grow

  • Reward yourself for every action that gets you closer.
  • Share your successes publicly.
  • When you fail, reflect upon and learn from your failure, and then try again.
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This is not rocket science. You don’t need to do all of the above. The point is that you need to find a way to (a) have a goal and (b) force yourself to pursue it past your insecurities.

What do you do to “fake it till you make it”?

Fight on. You got this!

-- Kara Davidson, Cofounder, wolf & heron