I was asked recently for my favourite quote and I didn’t have to look hard to find it. There is one quote that stands out for me and that is from Henry Ford…..
What we tell ourselves (whether it is out loud or quietly in our head) can help or hinder our progress. It can build our confidence or shatter it.
Successful people have several key traits that contribute to their success and one of these is confidence. They focus on believing in their own talents rather than talking negatively to themselves, criticising their own performance or comparing themselves to others.
As an Executive Coach I work with managers every day who battle their negative self-talk demons and wish that they had more confidence to be able to contribute at their management meetings or actively put themselves forward for a promotion or have that tough conversation they have been putting off.
Too often, we come to believe that we have limited strengths. We focus our energy on the areas where we do have confidence but we don’t venture beyond this. This means that when we have to step outside our comfort zone we panic and, if we’re not careful, we make choices that damage our confidence. We also tend to focus on what has not worked and where we have failed rather than on what has worked and where we have succeeded.
There are steps we can take to build confidence in ourselves and our abilities and part of this process is a mindset change. To start to believe we are successful we need to focus on the successes we have had that have contributed to where we are today.
Step one – Identify your past successes
Think of key areas in your life and list the successes that you’ve had in your career, your education, your family, your health and wellness, your community. Write down a few specific examples 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. These are your strengths and they will give you an appreciation of your talents and abilities. If you feel brave, share your successes with trusted colleagues or friends to really cement those successes and then ask for their perspective on things you may have overlooked.
To really change your mindset, 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 help you to overcome your negative thoughts.To create an affirmation, first analyse the thoughts or behaviours you’d like to change.
Come up with positive, credible, present tense statements that are the opposite of these thoughts or behaviours. For example, if you would like to contribute more in team meetings, your affirming statement might be: I do add value to my team. Repeat your affirmation several times a day, especially when you find yourself slipping into a negative thinking pattern, or engaging in a negative behaviour. Some people find it useful to write their affirmations on small cards which they keep somewhere close at hand, or on notes stuck on the bathroom mirror!
Step three: What’s important to you and where do you want to go?
Setting goals or creating a personal vision is a key part of building confidence; real confidence comes from achieving your goals and making your vision a reality.
Goal setting is about setting yourself targets and measuring how well you hit those targets, and of course celebrating when you do so! When setting goals, it’s vital to think about the things that are really important to you, what you want to achieve with your life, your career (or current role) and your family.
Step four: Use your strengths to overcome your blockers
It’s important to recognise that you will have setbacks during the process of building your confidence. Keep in mind that setbacks are opportunities not failures. By reframing setbacks as learning experiences, you create more opportunities to achieve your objectives and improve your skills, and take a step closer to your dream vision or outcome. Once you have worked out what you are really good at (step one) focus on those strengths rather than on what you haven’t done.
The reality is, most people focus on what’s not working, rather than what is. They focus on the one piece of constructive (seen as negative) feedback they receive in their feedback review rather than the nine pieces of positive feedback. Confident and successful people don’t do this.
Step five: Commit to yourself
There are many things that you can do to improve your level of confidence and the most important is to believe in yourself and to back yourself. If you don’t, who will?
Remember, that confidence and self belief is vital for your success. There are people who seem to be born with an abundance of confidence, however, it isn’t a genetic predisposition and you can develop it yourself. I read recently that building confidence is like climbing a spiral staircase. Simply start climbing, keep going, and walk step-by-step until you reach the top!