Did you know that people take risks depending upon their level of self-image? When we are confident, we feel capable and competent. We trust that we have the ability to deal with whatever life may throw at us. When we are confident in others, we believe in them and encourage them to learn from their mistakes. When opportunity arises, we don’t fear it; we step up and say “yes”.
I know from first hand experience, confidence comes through action. You cannot will confidence.
Making a decision to create this monthly Lessons in Leadership series is an example of building confidence through action. You are reading this because several years ago, I decided to do it afraid!
When we feel less confident, we are more likely to hesitate to act independently. We may seek validation from multiple sources to gain clarification on what we should do. Or we look at problems from multiple angles, over and over again, trying to find a way to act without making any mistakes at all.
In a leadership workshop I facilitated, I invited participants to develop a list of strategies to help them increase their confidence when taking on a new leadership role. One tip they suggested was “fake it until you make it”.
Faking confidence can help you muster up the courage to perform a new task, learn a new skill, or initiate a difficult conversation.
“All you need is 20 seconds of insane courage, and I promise you, something great will come of it.”
This was the advice a father gave his son in the movie We Bought a Zoo.
You see, action cures fears. Theodore Roosevelt said “Every time we face our fear, we gain the strength, courage and confidence in the doing.” So confidence isn’t something that comes before we act, it comes through action. If we waited until we had the confidence, we’d still be waiting. Whatever it is you need to do, go ahead and do it afraid.
Here are four actions you can take immediately to increase your confidence:
See problems as opportunities. As a leader, everyday presents its own new set of challenges that can shake your confidence. Whatever the problem is ask yourself “What’s the opportunity behind this?” If a customer complains about service, where’s the opportunity to improve it? Identify the opportunity, and then work on taking advantage of it.
Break complex problems into simple tasks. – Regardless of how thrilled we are about a new challenge, enthusiasm can wane if you are unsure how to tackle it. Ask yourself, “What’s the first thing I need to do? And, what’s the next thing I need to do?” This approach can help you break through the overwhelming complexity and help you see the starting point. By just getting started the overwhelm will pass and the path will become clearer.
Make and follow through on decisions. – There are two kinds of decision makers, those who want to get things done and those who don’t want to make mistakes. No decision is ever going to be 100% perfect. By making a decision and acting on it, you gain a reputation as someone who can make and follow through on decisions. Confidence in your decision making comes from learning from mistakes and making course corrections as you go, not by avoiding mistakes.
Continually learn and develop new skills in the areas you need to build. Whether you are a new leader or in a leadership role at a whole new level, you will need to develop new skills. Identify these areas and create a plan for growth. Act on the plan daily and watch your confidence soar.
Lisa Holden Rovers is the Founder of Workplace Matters, where she specializes in helping business leaders and career professionals lead with influence and build stronger, more cohesive teams. Curious how Lisa can support you or your organization? Contact her for a complimentary discovery session to discuss your unique situation and needs.