Feeling Confident can be tough any day of the week. Especially if you're in a new leadership position.
You're still figuring out who the people in your team are, what they expect, how your dynamic will be with them and what are your responsibilities.
Today we're covering a couple of ways for you to develop your confidence.
You'll get some quick-fix tips & some strategies that will help you develop long lasting confidence.
First Things first: why aren't you feeling confident?
Lack of confidence comes from one of two things: either lack of knowledge or skill (e.g.: you want to bake a chocolate cake and have no idea how to bake) or from a psychological phenomenon which revises in your mind all the negative aspects related to the task at hand (maybe you tried before and failed, maybe you're afraid of coming across as incompetent, etc).
In ancient times, our limbic brain (the oldest part of our brain) used to be very useful. It is the part responsible for the quick and immediate reactions we have to external stimuli (conversations, actions, etc).
It's the reason why we feel really defensive or why we really want to talk to a certain person.
It was useful because, of course that we wanted our brain to send a stress signal to our whole body if we came face to face with a tiger and needed to run as fast as we could.
That type of response allowed us to survive.
Now, today we still have that limbic brain. And it still reacts to external circumstances and events. The difference is, instead of us being facing a tiger, now we have something new that we haven't done before.
It's very different, yet our brain reacts the same way.
It wants to protect us and shield us from what's dangerous and unknown.
So now you need to do something new or something you've tried before and didn't go so well... and your limbic system kicks in with a stress response and your confidence goes down the drain.
So... what can you do to become more confident?
1. Learn the skill and gain the Knowledge
Of course that, if you don't know how to do something, learning it will increase your chances of becoming confident in that context.
It will allow your brain to become familiar with it and move from a stress reaction where you avoid it to a familiarity reaction that allows you to execute.
So if that's where you are, learning a skill (like team management - wink, wink!) is a starting point. Still, at first, you won't feel you've mastered the world.
So let's talk about other things you can do to boost your confidence now and in the future:
2. Shift Focus from You --> Your Work, Ideas, Results
Often times we get caught in our own mind, replaying every single gesture and word we said or will say, imagining how other people will or have judged our little misdemeanor.
The reality is, most people aren't really thinking of that micro second you stuttered or that time you dropped the pen.
Most people are involved in their own narrative in their minds. Just like you.
However, our nice brain wanting to protect us, imagines all these dreadful scenarios where you're teased beyond repair over that time you coughed. -_-
So here's something that will help you:
Instead of focusing on you, focus on your work, your idea or your results.
Here's what I mean:
That conversation happens in our brain because we believe who we are is the source of value. Therefore, if we make a mistake, we lose value.
When you realize that the value you bring is the process you facilitate, the issues you bring up, the results you drive... then you'll start to understand that your value is non dependable on the little human behaviours of your person.
The value you bring is independent of you.
This mindset shift transforms how you act. Your little mistakes don't matter that much anymore. After all, it's not about you, but about the idea, the process, the results.
Things you believe in and which can be discussed more objectively.
3. Focusing on Your Strengths vs Your Weaknesses
I guess you've heard this one a lot.
And here's why I'm mentioning it: because even if we know we should do that, it doesn't necessarily mean we know how to implement it in our real life.
Focusing on your strengths instead of your weaknesses goes for everything in your life.
Let's say you're good at math. Would you rather spend more time working with math or would you completely change your life around to become an abstract artist?
You could. Yes. For some people, that'll be how their life unfolds. But they won't jump from one thing to the other without even trying to see if they're good or not as an abstract artist.
Most people who make such shifts will have developed the skills on the side, while doing what they know they're good at.
That's exactly how to do it in a leadership position as well.
You're not the best and most comfortable at public speaking?
No problem, find other ways to motivate your team. You still want to become good at public speaking? Great! Learn, develop the skill and slowly transition from one thing to the other.
Either way, you'll see that you're starting with your strengths.
And that's what you want to do right now.
What are some of your strengths you can use in team management? Maybe you're funny, or focused, or strategic, or good in developing relationships, or a good group facilitator, etc.
Whatever it is, that's where you start.
And the rest? Here's what to do....
4. Outsource your "weaknesses"
Now you've started focusing on your strengths, what you're already good at, let's talk about what you might call weaknesses.
These you're gonna outsource.
Meaning, there are a couple of people in your team. You're not the only one. So let's take a look at the people in your team: what are their strengths?
Which strengths of other team members can you use to help you lead the team?
Is there anyone who is very good with people and you're not? Why not take advantage of that? Is there someone who is super organized and you're not? Why not get that person to help planning the work?
Just because you're the leader it doesn't mean you should DO and BE everything.
Your role changes and adapts. It might be that right now your role is to gather your team's strengths so you can really kick it.
5. Shine the Spotlight on your Team
Tying back with the previous point of outsourcing your weaknesses and going back to shifting your focus, shining the spotlight on your team is another strategy you can use to feel more confident.
It takes the pressure off you.
It takes the pressure of BEING and DOING everything, the pressure of being perfect and of knowing everything.
When your mind focuses on the team, you realize you are one part of the team. Responsible for some things, but not all.
Which means that it's not your neck on the line, it's a team effort.
Imagine saying these expressions to someone when talking about your work: "i don't know" or "I can't do it" or "I did it this way because" or "I made it!"
Now imagine you're saying the following: "we don't know" or "we can't do that" or "we did it this way because" or "we made it!"
Which group of expressions made you feel the most pressure?
The first, right?
That decrease in personal pressure is what comes from shining the spotlight on the team. Not to mention the likelihood of finding more solutions and alternatives when the responsibility rests on the team's shoulders and not just yours.
6. Take it Slow & Take a Deep Breath mentality
Remember the limbic system that wants to save us but really just steps in our way?
Very well, that's where this part comes into play.
Being in a stress response mode can be good in some situations. Most of the time, when it comes to making decisions at work and handling people we manage, it harms you.
You respond out of fear and often your decisions are clouded.
Taking it slow or taking a deep breath is essentially a trick to physically slow down your brain and be able to see things clearly and make better a judgement.
Whenever you feel you're not confident in a certain situation, taking the time to slow down and take a deep breath will allow you to:
a) tell your brain to stop freaking out
b) remind yourself it's your lymbic system, not you who's feeling uncertain and insecure
c) shift your focus to the core: your idea, work, results
And then you can proceed as you see best.
7. Use Body Language
It's becoming more and more part of common knowledge how intertwined our brain and our body are.
Meaning, how you feel affects how you act and how you carry yourself and that how you act and carry yourself affects how you feel.
Some ways to use body language to feel more confident are to use power poses: postures that symbolize power.
Think of a powerful person and recall their body language: most likely they had open gestures, taking up a lot of space, a wide stance and hands on the waist or behind their head.
These are power poses.
You can use them to signal your brain that you are confident.
After all, if your body is in that positions, you must feel confident... right? :)
8. Create Confidence Anchors
Anchors are a tool that comes from Neuro-Linguistic Programming.
These are small gestures you associate to certain emotions and which you can do whenever you need to trigger those same emotions in your brain.
Of course it might not be immediate magic. For some people it takes a few practices.
However, the simple practice of creating an anchor already trains your mind to recall confident emotions whenever needed.
I explain how to create a confidence anchor in the podcast episode above.
Let me know how it works for you.
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