September: Career Kick Start Month.
Following on from our Gift of Confidence intro blog to Confidence at Work, this post looks at the areas we CAN control so that we can put our best selves forward and thrive at work. We’ll look at your capability, the level of risk & reward and your capacity.
We can give ourselves the gift of confidence by understanding what it looks like, feels like and acts like for us.
By creating our own personal template for confidence, we stop relying on others for their approval or perception. That freedom alone is a huge source of confidence.
We discussed in the previous blog how Confidence is a personal thing. It has so many variables that we all have a different idea of what confidence looks and feels like. Aside from what anyone else thinks or assumes, the critical part of confidence is finding our version of what it means to us.
So let’s focus on what we CAN control to help us to build our own confidence.
The further away you get from your comfort zone, the thinner your confidence will be stretched.
For example, if you work in an office, you’re probably very confident at turning on your computer and writing an email to a colleague. You’re possibly less confident when it comes to running a marathon. This could be reversed for an elite athlete.
It’s all about understanding our own strengths. We’re always going to be asked to do things which are on the edge of our comfort zones but we can still approach them with confidence, because there will be plenty of things around that one new activity that we CAN do very well.
So take control of the situation and focus on what you CAN do. Let’s take the example of giving a presentation to a large group….
Perhaps in this case, the low confidence comes from worrying about forgetting the material and freezing and so looking stupid and incompetent in front of others. Things you CAN do to help with this:
Prepare the material well in advance or use the basis of something that you’ve written or presented before. This gives you chance to run it by some colleagues and the event organiser if this is relevant. Then practise, practise, practise. Practise it in sections so that you can always skip to the next ‘section’ if you lose your way. Practise it starting from different points. Record yourself reading it through and listen to it in the car, on walks, before bed (it may make you cringe to hear yourself, but grit your teeth through it). Practise it in front of the mirror and friends/family/colleagues.
Remove as many of the other unknowns as possible. Check out the venue, the room, the intended room layout and the technology you’ll have available. Ask how many people are expected to attend. Check if there’s an anticipated Q&A at the end.
Make sure you are as prepared as possible so that you are as relaxed as you can be for the actual presentation. Make sure you arrive hours ahead of when you are presenting. Have a number of copies of any slides/material you need in both hard copy and digitally.
Afterwards if you’re still not sure how it went, then ask. Getting useful and honest feedback will help with your confidence next time.
The more we do things, the more confident at them we become, even if we don’t like doing them very much, the confidence comes from our knowledge that we have the capability.
Level of Risk & Reward
The level of risk and reward is a great driver of our confidence. If the reward is right for us, then we’ll push a lack of confidence aside and just have a go, because we value the reward so highly.
Other times, the worry of getting it wrong and the potential consequences of us doing a bad job are too high and we decide to sit it out.
The challenge in our career is getting the balance right. We need to be learning and growing all the time to keep us engaged and moving in the right direction; with this comes an acceptance that things will go wrong and we will make mistakes.
We learn a lot from our mistakes so don’t shy away from doing new things just because there is a risk of you getting it wrong. The trick is just to choose the things where the mistake wouldn’t be career-ending! So try to focus more on what you could gain from trying something new, this will help to build your confidence and you stand a better chance of succeeding.
Only 50% of confidence comes from knowing you have the skills and knowledge to do a particular activity. The other 50% comes from giving yourself the best shot to do it to the best of your ability.
If your confidence comes from doing something well, then we need to set up our environment and our situation to give us the best chance of success.
As much as we like to think we can multi-task, trying to do many things at once means that none have your full attention.
If your confidence comes from doing something well, then we need to set up our environment and our situation to give us the best chance of success. This means optimising your health, your sleep, your workspace, your calendar, your physical exercise, your interactions with others etc. Make sure you have the capacity to do your best. Only you know what that is and only you can control it.
Considering all these elements will help you build strong foundations of confidence, which you will then be able to take into all your work and non-work situations. Remember that it’s not a thing that we have or don’t have and it’s not a permanent state. We can all work everyday to improve and build on different areas of our confidence.