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Seeds of Confidence

Career Confidence: Are you watering the seeds or the weeds? Why we need to focus on building a healthy balanced sense of self-confidence to achieve true career success.

Carol Yang

“Always remember you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think” – Christopher Robin

Confidence is a funny thing. Don’t have enough of it and you hold yourself back; too much of it and you have the potential to alienate yourself.

When you possess a healthy amount of it you feel as though you can leap tall buildings in a single bound. Nothing is impossible, too hard or too complex to tackle. Conversely when you have none, getting to the end of the day can feel like a task in itself. You feel small, insignificant and incapable.

Whilst most of us recognise self-confidence is a critical ingredient to creating ongoing success in both our careers and those of the people we lead, we spend very little time building and fostering it. Why? Because it means we have to get a little bit uncomfortable. We have to take a risk, step out and often walk into new unchartered territory. But not doing so means that we run the risk of limiting our growth and becoming way too comfortable, which is dangerous. Dangerous for ourselves, our careers, and the businesses that we lead.

At the end of last year Accenture released a report stating 51% of firms expected to grow their workforce this year, which is the highest figure since the start of the recession in 2008. With more opportunities emerging in the market place, individuals are now presented with an increased choice about whether to step up internally; step out to a new organisation or change careers altogether.

However for many people their lack of self-confidence becomes a stumbling block preventing them from reaching their potential, understanding their career choices and limiting their progression. A lack of confidence not only impacts on the ability to move forward, it impedes decision-making and performance in the here and now.

Confident BehaviourWhat is it then about some people that allow them to take risks, step outside of their comfort zone, try new things and reap the rewards of success; whilst others choose to stay with what they know, let opportunities slip by and watch others succeed?

At the heart of it is fear: Fear of failure; fear of being wrong; and fear of letting others and ourselves down. It occurs when emotional forces rather than rational ones drive your decisions. More often than not, a lack of self confidence comes from a feeling of not being in control and that your circumstances result from the actions of others.

Confidence on the other hand comes from a place of feeling in control, from a firm belief that you are in charge and responsible for what happens to you and your career. It is not that you know beyond doubt that everything you do will be a success but rather that you believe in yourself enough to try. A place where even if the outcome is not what you had expected, you will have still gained from the experience.

There is no hiding genuine self-confidence. It is demonstrated through your actions, your body language, what you say and how you say it.

Take a moment to compare the behaviours associated with self-confidence in the following table and identify which thoughts and actions you recognise in yourself or those around you:

Confidence is magnetic, engaging and inspiring. So how do you build a strong yet balanced sense of self-confidence and engender it in others? The key lies in building a solid set of achievements so that it is founded on a firm appreciation of reality and a solid set of outcomes. In doing so your self-confidence is based on things that are real and that no one can take away from you or attribute to someone else.

I would encourage you to think about the following 7 tips for building your self-confidence and how you can apply them to your career and business:

  1. Build upon YOUR core foundations: Identify exactly what your core strengths, interests and areas of knowledge are. We achieve a much higher ROI when we invest our efforts in ways to improve upon our strengths and the things we are interested in rather than our weaknesses.
  2. Become comfortable with change: The prospect of change is most scary when we are too comfortable where we are. Our ability to navigate change is instrumental to our success because the more we resist it the more our confidence suffers.
  3. Chunk it down: When we chunk down the big things into achievable tasks we not only start to see how things are possible we eliminate the fear and anxiety that can so often go with putting ourselves outside of our comfort zone.
  4. Celebrate your milestones: Just as success breeds success, confidence breeds confidence. Whilst it may sound a little gratuitous to some to reward and congratulate yourself for the milestones you have achieved, it will help you build energy and enthusiasm.
  5. Don’t play the comparison game: In the words of Mark Twain ‘Comparison is the death of joy’. Not only is it damaging to your self confidence but all too often what you are comparing yourself against is inaccurate and does nothing to support you achieve your goals.
  6. Build a network of trusted confidantes: Creating a circle of influence with people that champion our efforts, challenge our thinking, allow us to fail in a judgment free environment and help us celebrate our milestones is critical to building our self confidence.
  7. Start advocating for yourself as you would for others: All too often we are great advocates for others but not for ourselves. Learning how to effectively promote your own strengths and opinions, position yourself effectively and negotiate not what you need but what you deserve is key to building both confidence and success.

Building a strong balanced sense of self-confidence is readily achievable for us all. It does require clear focus and determination to carry things through but in doing so, the benefits are limitless not only for your career and business but also in the degree of fulfillment you experience.

The question is where are you planting your seeds of confidence and are you watering the seeds or the weeds?

As always I would love to hear your thoughts below.

Margot – The Career Diplomat

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