How and why is self-confidence particularly fragile lately?
We don’t need to look very far to understand why self-confidence has taken a battering for many over the last 18 months. We’ve dealt with lockdowns, quarantines, self-isolation (for some), and a general decline in social interactions. Many of us have spent time alone, without the social support from family and friends that we typically rely on. On a personal level, I had not seen my father for well over a year until I finally squeezed in a visit juggling local and international lockdowns (now that was a trick and a half, but we managed to do it in the nick of time). My situation, on a relative basis, is easier than that of many others…but was not without its challenges.
Lockdowns forced us all to do things for ourselves that we are not used to doing, but it has also been a time of freedom. It allowed us to play, experiment and practice new skills without the entire world watching. It still is….so it’s a perfect time to build up a new skill and why not boost your self-confidence?
It helps to recall the words of Marie Curie in this skill based journey…
Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained.Marie Curie
Boost self-confidence through opportunities…
Let me illustrate with an example.
Imagine that you are the CFO at Acme Consulting Co., and one Monday morning disaster strikes. The payroll run has failed, dozens of employees have not been paid yet. You’ve received no notification of an issue, so you are oblivious to the emerging employee relations issue. You get a call to go into the president’s office to explain why employees are calling her in droves.
The president is a real stickler for accuracy and has little patience for errors. You don’t know of any reason employees would be calling her, but you are sweating nevertheless, your shoulders are slightly hunched, and you are looking all around the room feeling as if all eyes are on you. She 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 – a nightmare scenario where an issue has surfaced, you are unaware of it, pressure is immediate, and your response becomes shaky! In our case, the CFO’s initial behaviour demonstrates a real lack of confidence.
Do you wonder how to turn it around? Let’s get to that next.
This ABC approach shines a bright light to offer clarity of purpose, from which our personal roadmap or compass will emerge. This roadmap becomes the driver in our lives, and against which decisions are made and action taken. We are once again in the driver’s seat and, just as you first learned to drive a car, so will you master the skill of confidence.
Applying the ABCs to boost self-confidence in the CFO
Let’s pick up our example again and see how different it looks with the skill in the CFO’s toolkit.
You’ve been called to the president’s office. You don’t know of any reason, but you are not concerned. There are good checks and balances over the plethora of finance-related processes and even if something has gone wrong, you have a track record of resolving things effectively. You know the function well and are comfortable that you can answer any question asked, even if you must go and research it first. You believe in your knowledge of the processes, the team, and your own ability to solve any issue that emerges. So, you walk into the office shoulders straight, purposeful strides and smile as you greet the president. You sit down and lean in slightly to discuss the issue. The president is at ease and shares what she’s hearing from employees. You acknowledge the news and say: “I can help resolve 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 constructive conversation that is mutually beneficial, even on tough employee-related issues!
Self-confidence, therefore, comes from understanding and relentlessly believing in your ability. Using the ABCs approach makes this journey quicker and easier for us.
As the pandemic starts to stabilize, this is the ideal time to boost self-confidence and self-esteem by giving ourselves the gift of trying new things. Without the eyes of the world staring at us right now, we can experiment freely and safely. Be brave and give it a go.
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Give it a try!
Cartoon credit: Mimi and Eunice by Nina Paley