Recently I had a conversation about confidence with a dear client, for the upcoming launch of my The Career Toolkit program
We were talking about her 26 year career journey and how confidence has impacted her throughout it – both negatively and positively.
Right towards the end, she said the truth that all women need to hear: Something that we had been working on, and she had been living for the past four years of coaching.
“Confidence changes in baby steps.”
Boom. Right there.
Just like we think that we get struck by purpose, one day waking to discover that we suddenly know what we are meant to be doing with our lives, we think that the same thing happens with our confidence. That one day, something will change and all of a sudden we will have the courage to speak up in the meeting, go for the promotion, or start our dream business.
But it rarely happens like that.
We build our confidence through taking small steps consistently that move us toward the best version of ourselves. That inch us closer to what we know to be true, not what we worry others think. Steps that help us move into our power.
Here are some steps you can take to support your confidence journey.
Identify your triggers
What are the situations that suck the confidence right out of you? Is it speaking up in a meeting filled with your peers? Perhaps it’s giving a presentation in front of your boss, or your boss’s boss. Maybe it’s being unprepared in a project review. Not having all the facts on hand for a client. For some women, they are full of confidence at work, but when they drop their kid off at the school gate the other Mum’s are enough to drain all of their confidence and make them feel unsure of themselves. It can be anything, but most of us have a few main triggers that impact us more than anything else. Work out what they are, and how to counter them. Not confident giving a presentation? Work with someone to improve your mindset and skills. Being unprepared? Schedule in time in advance so you have space to get up to speed. Afraid of speaking in front of your peers? Work out what sits under that fear so you can address it. Triggers are small things that cause major havoc. Start here.
Catch your stories
We all have stories. Millions of them. You may not have noticed, but there is a constant stream of chatter in your head. And here is a revolutionary truth that can change your life. Not only is that voice not you, but it’s also not speaking the truth, and it’s undermining your success and your happiness. You must start becoming aware of the voice inside your head, and identify and catch the stories being narrated. You might find this challenging. Or you might know exactly what I’m talking about. In the interview yesterday my client shared how it took her a long time to really catch her stories. But once she did, she realised that she was undermining herself by letting this voice run riot inside her mind, and stop her from doing or saying what she really wanted. It ripped the confidence right out of her. And it will do the same to you until you learn to quieten it. First, just start to tune in and observe what it is saying throughout your day. You may be mildly horrified. Observe. Be the witness. Don’t judge. Just catch the stories.
Ask the magic question
Once we can catch our stories, we are already winning. Then when we start to challenge them with curiosity we can really change our confidence game. The magic question is this: “Is that true?” Super simple. A seemingly small step. Is that true? When that voice inside your head pops up and tells you that if you speak in the meeting everyone will think you’re stupid. Is that true? Invariably it isn’t. When it pipes up and tells you that you’re hopeless at everything and won’t amount to anything? Challenge it and you will see loads of evidence to the contrary. And when it hits you with the whopper that we all deal with far too often – you’re just not good enough – well, when you really sit into the truth of asking “Is that true?” to that one, I just know you can find the golden nuggets of just how amazing you are when given the opportunity (and if you struggle with that one, ask your best friend, she will set you straight). The questions we ask shape our lives and can alter our reality. This magic question, written on a post it note and put on your vision board, in your notebook, or on your computer screen, is a small step with life changing implications. Ask it often.
Know your confidence boosters
Get to know the things that boost your confidence. For my client yesterday, she talked about ensuring she had time each morning to feel put together before she went to work. Spending a little more time on her outfit and appearance, whilst sounding superficial, makes a significant impact on her level of confidence throughout the day. I know for me, when I was in my corporate roles and now in my own companies, I feel the same. That extra 15 minutes in the morning can make all the difference. Even when I’m doing speaking gigs, having the right shoes on is a confidence booster that makes me stand taller and in my power. Does that mean I can’t be a good speaker in ballet flats? Of course not. But that extra boost puts a bit more of a spring in my step so why wouldn’t I do it? Boosters can be anything. Building in extra preparation time before a meeting (another one of mine). Phoning a friend before giving a big talk. Positive affirmations. Reading a list of your skills before going in for a job interview. Thinking about your solid achievements before negotiating a pay rise. Or even striking your wonder woman pose in the bathroom stall before an important client engagement. Know what works for you. Then build them in to your day in ways that support you.
It’s what we do every day, not what we do sometimes, that maters and changes our lives. Get to really know yourself. Your triggers, your stories and what lifts you up. And know that it’s the small things done consistently that will make all the difference.