Setting the Stage
Self-confidence is premised on the belief that confidence is a skill that develops with practice. A concept illustrated by C.S Lewis: “Very often the only way to get a quality in reality is to start behaving as if you had it already.”
The idea that a lack of self-confidence is a character weakness or something that is insurmountable is a real fallacy. One that compounds a low sense of self-esteem and perpetuates the cycle in too many people. Now is the time to break free for good!
Confidence is a skill, like any other. Mastered with practice and the right techniques in your toolkit (a topic I cover in my upcoming book).
Let me illustrate with an example. Imagine that you’re an accountant (I know, go with me on this). You’re invited to the audit partner’s office to explain an unusual entry in the ledger. Your manager is a real stickler for accuracy and has little patience for errors. You don’t know of anything specific but you are sweating nevertheless. Your shoulders are slightly hunched and you’re looking all around the room feeling as if all eyes are on you. The audit partner picks up on your vibe and bristles, she is now thinking there really must be a problem. Her questions come fast and furious, you fumble your words from nervousness and she presses harder.
You get the idea – it is a classic scenario with relatively new accountants (or their finance equivalent). It’s one where the accountant lacks the confidence skill. You wonder how to turn it around? Let’s get to that..
Confidence as a skill
I use an ABC approach in coaching to illustrate the key elements of practicing confidence.
- The art of understanding that confidence is not arrogance or rigidity. It’s being clear about your authentic self (values, beliefs, purpose) while respecting that of others.
- Openness to dialogue is essential in this space – seek to understand first.
- This is about knowing and understanding yourself and having the courage to say it out loud. It is about resisting going with the flow if it fundamentally clashes with your authentic self.
- It’s also recognizing that you can choose to go with the flow without losing sight of what you believe, value and prioritize. This realization creates a sense of inner peace, by clarifying which beliefs are worth fighting for!
- Trusting yourself, holding onto the knowledge and clarity that your beliefs, values and purpose are your “truth”.
- This understanding empowers you to develop clarity about what you have confidence in and what needs further investigation or development.
- Moving from the inside out takes commitment because it’s a new way of being – moving from an “others” based roadmap guide to your own internal roadmap for all decision making.
- This newly found empowerment can be intimidating at first, but soon overcome when the benefits emerge.
- Engagement is the springboard to practicing self-confidence. It stems from clarity in your own beliefs, values, purpose and “truth” and trusting yourself to apply them to guide your decisions, words, behaviours and actions.
- The application of authenticity is the foundation of self-confidence.
The ABCs establish clarity of purpose, from which a personal roadmap or compass system emerges. The roadmap steers your life, and is against which your decisions occur. You’re once again in the driver’s seat where – just as you did when learning to drive a car – you will soon master the skill of confidence with practice.
Let’s pick up the earlier example and see how different it looks with the confidence skill in the accountant’s toolkit.
You’re invited to the audit partner’s office. You don’t know of any particular reason but you are not concerned. There are good checks and balances over the month-end processes and the balance sheet is reviewed regularly. You know your company’s business inside out! There is a quiet comfort in your ability to answer any question asked, even if you have to go and research it first. You believe in your knowledge of the process, the company and your own accounting skills so you walk into the office shoulders straight, with purposeful strides, calm and smiling as you greet the partner. You sit down at the table and lean in slightly towards the audit team to discuss the issue. The audit partner is equally relaxed and asks her question. You smile and say: “I can help you with that…”.
It is not difficult to see how using the skill of confidence leads to a very different outcome – that is the outcome you seek. A mutually beneficial one.
Check out the member section for techniques and tools to add to your own toolkit of skills.
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