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Many of you will have a list of professional development events that you are scheduled to participate in this year. You may even have a wish list of other courses you want to complete some day. However, whether you are in a leadership position now, aspire to be in one at some point in the future, or just want to be the best you can be at your current job, taking training is fruitless if you don’t do this training also: Confidence building.
Confidence is something that can and must be learned to advance your skills and your capacity to apply that skill set. Implementing what you know and using your expertise is especially relevant if you have the desire to advance your career. Confidence will give you the ability to apply what you learn from other professional development training to your everyday work.
We know the pain of watching someone filled with doubt, hesitation, and fear. You perhaps know someone yourself who is smart and motivated enough to have 2 university degrees but who can barely introduce themselves at a meeting. You probably have someone on your team who has a wealth of fantastic ideas, yet keeps quiet, afraid of fumbling over their words if they try to share. Likewise, you likely know others who spew out facts, ideas and random thoughts, trying to make themselves look good. None of those people are displaying high levels of confidence.
Contrast those images with someone who is poised, courageous and self-assured. Consider a leader that you respect. Perhaps they have a quiet confidence about them. They are someone who says what needs to be said, in a way that assures you they are competent, but not arrogant. They can handle tough conversations with grace and ease. They also admit their failures, acknowledge challenges the team is facing and provide the motivation to move forward, despite the difficulties. These are displays of inner confidence.
Confidence is a belief in yourself, your abilities and in your potential. It is about trust, faith and having the courage to believe. Confidence is not what others believe you can do or are capable of. Confidence comes from inside of you. It is your belief in yourself.
Reading books, taking courses or acquiring degrees won’t help you apply what you have learned. It is your inner confidence that gives you the push to practice it. You must believe you can employ the ideas you read and you need faith that you will be able to execute the strategies learned in the recent course you took. You have to trust your ability to communicate a clear vision to your unit, create team cohesiveness and inspire those around you to keep moving forward through upcoming program changes. You must believe in yourself. That is self-confidence.
Moving to a positive way of thinking
Your level of confidence is strongly connected to your quality of your thoughts. Think you can, and you are halfway there. Think you can’t, and you are already sinking. It’s that simple. But if it is that simple, why don’t we all just think more positively?
The challenge is that much of our thoughts are unconscious. To become more aware of your thoughts takes effort and attention. To then shift what you are thinking takes even more effort and attention! Quite honestly, it takes a fair bit of work. Which brings me back to my first point. To make a difference this year, focus on confidence training so that you can apply your other education with increased comprehensiveness.
Training yourself to be more confident is an ongoing process. It is a practice of paying attention to your thoughts and then shifting those thoughts. It is in that modification of your thinking, (I don’t know if I can do this to… I will do it even if it doesn’t come out quite right) that you will find the faith you need to apply, practice and master your skills - including those newly learned from professional development training.
Developing your confidence doesn’t just happen once, and then you are done. Just when you think you have that inner trust, something will knock you off kilter, and you’ll be back feeling insecure again. The doubts will creep in. You’ll hesitate, and if you aren’t careful, you’ll start to sink. It will take ongoing practice to hone the habit of shifting those thoughts back in the direction you need them to go.
If you want to train yourself to more confident this year, devise a plan that helps you to become aware of your thoughts and then manage your thoughts. Additionally, look for activates that will help stretch you and grow your thinking around your abilities. It is when you believe you can do something, which perhaps you didn’t think you could before, and then go out and do it, that your confidence will begin to soar.
5 ways to train yourself to be more confident
1. Set a goal
The first step is to get clear that you want to focus on this. Similar to a goal that helps you to attain your degree, setting the intention to build your confidence will provide heightened focus on it.
2. Mindfulness training
Learn to become more present with what you are thinking and feeling. This can start with paying attention to day-to-day activities like driving and washing your hands. Usually, during those kinds of activities, we are a million miles away. Starting to pay attention cultivates the habit of being aware. You can also consider breath work or mediation. You will find a lot of apps that support you in practicing mindfulness in your own time and space.
Create the daily habit of writing down your thoughts, and then evaluating them. Noting how worried you are about an upcoming meeting can trigger the reminder to shift those thoughts.
- I’m worried...and I’m also aware that I have help to do this.
- I’m worried about messing this up...and I know if I do it will be an opportunity to practice my conflict resolution skills.
4. Increase your confidence in other areas
Take adult swimming lessons, sign up for the community choir, join Toastmasters, volunteer on the local fire department, climb a mountain, or take a spin class. Anything you do to stretch your comfort zone and develop skills in new areas will help to grow your confidence.
5. Getting outside help
Learn more about how confidence works and how to cultivate it. Read books, take classes, or watch Ted Talks that teach you about confidence. Ask a trusted person to give you feedback on your gestures, posture and voice tone. Your outer presentation is a great indicator of your inner faith in yourself.
Kathy is a leadership coach for women who want to strengthen their leadership & find balance in life. She mentors women as they rediscover their purpose, passion, and persistence for life while dealing with office politics, jerk bosses and the challenges of family life. Kathy gives her ladies the hope and inspiration they need along with a kick in the pants to make positive changes in their lives. Discover more in her book Mastering Confidence: Discover Your Leadership Potential by Awakening Your Inner Guidance System.