On Confidence

Our fabulously inspirational business manager Siobhan Feldt shared this quote today with our team and I thought it well worth passing along. “A good leader inspires people to have confidence in the leader.  A great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves” – Eleanor Roosevelt. Confidence is a deeply personal and empowering aspect of ourselves.  To be the best we can be it is vital that we learn to challenge and conquer that loud voice in our heads telling us what we can’t do, reminding us about the mistakes we’ve made, and goading us to give up in case we fail.  Today’s Karen Gately blog looks at confidence, and the importance it plays in achieving our full potential.

We live in a society that often tells us not to stand out, and to instead play nicely with the crowd and do what is predictable and expected.  Great things are rarely achieved by ‘playing it safe’ and taking the well-travelled road, and challenges are rarely overcome by stepping up to them with hesitation.  Truly amazing things are achieved when people have faith, when they have a burning desire to manifest their vision and believe that they have what it takes to get there. It doesn’t matter how often people tell us to have more confidence; it’s something that we must come to by ourselves.  That said, there is no doubt a leader who has our trust and respect can play a very important role.  This is also true in the negative – leaders have the power to diminish confidence through comments and actions that are thoughtless and lacking tact or compassion.

In my experience the most powerful way to influence the confidence of others is:

  1. See the good in people – It may sound too simple, but often people are more inclined to see the negatives and observe faults.  We need to choose to look for what is going well, what strengths an individual brings, the fabulous contributions they make, the hard work they put in, the good intentions they have, the positive energy they bring to a team.
  2. When you see good things in people tell them – How often do you observe something nice or positive about someone but hesitate or fail to say it?  This doesn’t just apply to your staff – it applies to everyone around you; your family, your friends, your colleagues and your boss.  To give them a boost of confidence and feel good energy, have a go at telling them what they are doing well – let them know that you have noticed.  Speaking of the boss – it’s true that it can be lonely at the top, and I haven’t yet met a CEO or Senior Manager who didn’t appreciate being given a pat on the back for a job well done.
  3. Speak with Conviction – When you deliver your positive feedback, be sure to look them in the eyes and speak with conviction.  The strength and confidence of your comments will greatly impact the extent to which they believe you.
  4. Focus on Strengths – Be specific about the strengths and qualities someone brings, that give you faith in their ability to succeed. People aren’t always able to see, let alone focus on, their own gifts, so help them to develop that clarity. Whenever possible, align people in your team to their strengths. There will undoubtedly be things they need to do in their role that they aren’t naturally great at… but a good role fit will mean leveraging their strengths is a greater focus that constantly working to overcome their weaknesses. At the end of the day, success breeds confidence.
  5. Bracket things in love – When we do need to give honest feedback about what isn’t working, open with a positive, deliver the constructive feedback, and close with another positive.  For example: “Mary, I’ve been really pleased with how much effort you have been putting in (here’s the love).  There have unfortunately been a number of errors made which we will need to address (the constructive feedback).  I’m confident you can overcome these issues and we will give you whatever support and guidance you need ( more love).
  6. Challenge negative self-talk – I love arguing with people about why their negative self-belief is invalid and adds no value to their lives.  Most of us do it, and often we don’t even realise when we are.  Every day I hear people say things like ” I’m not very good at that, I’m hopeless, I’d love to be able to do that BUT, OMG I can be so stupid” and so on.  Sometimes all I say is “I doubt that’s true” and other times I directly challenge them with “Well. I know that’s not true” and tell them why. We manifest what we think – so if we constantly say we can’t, then chances are we won’t be able to.  Do the people in your lives a favour and challenge them when they self-sabotage their potential. When my daughter was very young she made a comment that gave me faith that she was born with an innate understanding of this concept. In response to hearing Gabriella Cilmi’s song ‘Sweet About Me’ in which she sings that there is ‘nothing sweet ‘about her, my naturally positive daughter Tamsyn was very concerned and said “Mum, I wish she wouldn’t talk about herself like that – I’m sure there are lots of things that are sweet about her; and it’s not good to say bad things about yourself”.  On that note, listen carefully to what little people say – they can be amazingly wise souls.
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3 thoughts on “On Confidence

  1. Interesting topic Karen. I often think why high-profile, successful people achieve what they do. The majority of them aren’t any more intelligent than most of us, what they do have is an unshakeable self-belief and the confidence and drive to take calculated risks. I’d be interested to hear what ideas you have around building self-confidence in yourself.

    • Thanks for your comments Ed. I totally agree, self belief is a critical driver of success – not just in business but in all aspects of our lives. I’ll get to work on a blog about how I believe we can influence our own confidence levels. What I will say now is that in my experience one of the most important ingredients is being aware of our self talk and choosing our response. The ability to ignore our own internal dialogue can be vital to overcoming fears that hold us back from putting ourselves out there and giving things a go. When we manage to step forward despite our fears and experience success, we prove ourselves wrong and in turn impact our confidence.

  2. Pingback: On Confidence: Influencing Yourself « Karen Gately

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