Confidence is something that even high achievers, and in my experience, especially those who are looking to continue to grow and learn and improve, are always on the lookout to build more of.
When you feel more confident, you can take steps to move forwards to realize more of your full potential in your life or in your work. Confidence is essential, but becoming confident, is not always easy.
When it comes to building confidence, I talk about the 3 Cs:
Competence, and then
You need to develop courage so that you can build competence, and out of that you can breed more confidence. When you feel more confident, it is from that place that you can take your career or your business to the next level.
How to have more courage:
If you want to reach your full potential in some aspect of your life, then you will need to move into your zone of discomfort. Simply put, you will need to do things that are challenging.
You're going to have to take some risks, and then, in order to build your competence, you need to be able to perform these new actions or behaviors in repetition.
It is through the reps that you build more competence and then develop the confidence that you need.
All of this starts with courage.
5 top tips to develop more courage in your life:
1) Start with a growth mindset: The first step to courage is starting from the right place, and that is having a growth mindset. You must start from a place where you believe that you can improve from where you are now. This is fundamental. If you believe that your abilities are fixed and that you are not able to improve from the place you are now, then there is no way that you are going to be able to move forwards with courage, build that competence, and develop your confidence. You need to believe that with the right level of hard work and consistent commitment, you will be able to make improvements from the place that you are now. So, the first step is check in with yourself. Are you starting from the place of a growth mindset?
2) Embrace challenge: Once you know that you are starting from the place of a growth mindset, you must accept that you will have to embrace the challenges that lie ahead. You simply cannot shy away from challenge.
“If you want something you've never had, you have to do something that you've never done.”
Those are the wise words of Thomas Jefferson, and you really need to internalize those to build the courage to move forwards.
In fact, the feeling of discomfort that you experience when you are mustering up courage to take action is your brain's way of letting you know that you are about to do something new. You are about to create real change. So rather than being put off by the feeling of discomfort and the challenge that lies ahead, start to embrace it.
3) Face your fears: When it comes to developing courage, there comes a time that you will need to face your fears and you'll need to do so in a realistic manner. Ask yourself some hard questions and face your worries or fears head on.
What is it that you are actually concerned about or frightened of? What are you most worried about?
Get out of your head and write it down. What it is that worries you most? What is it that is holding you back?
Then consider: if this were to happen, this very worst thing, what is the most awful or worst-case scenario that will play out? Then I want you to create a plan to deal with that worst-case scenario. Map it out. Consider how you would respond. What would you do? Would you be able to recover? Would you be able to bounce back? Would it really be that bad if you were to embarrass yourself? How serious would it be if you were to lose some money? Because 9 times out of 10, your worst-case scenario is nowhere near as bad as you originally had felt or imagined. So, get it out of your head, get it on a piece of paper. Face your fears.
4) Visualize your success: Visualization is an extremely powerful tool. To develop courage, one of the things that you can do is begin to visualize your success. For example, if you are about to make a presentation to a room full of people, spend some time visualizing how you would deliver that talk in a confident and competent manner. Visualizing before undertaking the event is a way of getting reps in beforehand.
5) Remember it is not all about you: this is the final and most important of my top tips for developing courage. Most of the time when we are aiming to maximize our potential in our work, it is usually in some way solving the problem for others or helping others. One of the best ways of developing courage is to take the focus of yourself and put the focus on the other people that you are serving, supporting, or helping. It is important to go from ‘self to service’. Going from self to service is a phrase that I learned from Rory Vaden, who is one of the world's best public speakers and one of my speaking and business mentors.
Recent research has stated that taking the focus off yourself and moving it onto others acts at a neurological level: to overcome the ‘fear circuits’ that are triggered in our amygdala, which is the part of our brain that sets off the fear response. Taking the focus from yourself and putting the focus on others actually helps us override those feelings of fear.
Now that you have found ways to start developing courage, you need to begin to take action to develop your competence.
How to become more competent:
Competence comes from taking action repetitively and consistently. Over time, when you get those reps in, it will breed confidence.
3 tips for developing competence and build your confidence:
1) Start small. One of the biggest mistakes I see is that people try to do too much too soon, they fall at the first hurdle and struggle to pick themselves up.
From the science perspective: you need some challenge in order to trigger off the neuroplasticity process. But if the challenge is too great, you will not be able to continue to take action to perform this new behavior in repetition. So you need to have just the right amount of challenge, start small and build up slowly.
For all those type-A personalities, this is one of the hardest things to do! James Clear, author of Atomic Habits writes about the ‘Two minute rule’ – performing anything new for 2 minutes and building up. This may sound crazy, but when you want to undertake a new action or behavior remember you can start with as little as two minutes at a time and build up from there.
2) Find the right support: Surround yourself with the right people. People who are able to cheer you on, provide you with the right sort of critical level of feedback when appropriate, but who can continue to encourage you and hold you to account.
You may want to find a friend who is also trying to build confidence in a particular area of their life or in their work, check in with this person regularly and hold each other to account. You can also find a mentor or a coach, or hire somebody to help you stay true to developing your confidence so that you can begin to realize more of your full potential in some aspect of your life.
3) Learn to love failure. This is one of the most important steps when it comes to building your competence and your confidence. You need to expect failure. You need to accept that things are going to go wrong. And more than that, I would suggest taking it to the next level. I would suggest becoming excited about failing. When you fail and fail early, all that can happen from there is that you can learn, course-adjust and improve quickly. It is as simple as that. Start to get excited about failing.
So now you will have developed your courage and be building your competence. And with that will come the breeding of your confidence.
As you become more confident, there are some things you need not to forget.
Confidence: don’t forget to do these 3 things:
1) Feedback. Once you are feeling more confident, it is important to continue to grow. And one of the easy ways of doing this is to get honest feedback from people that you trust. Look for ways to keep improving, stretching yourself and pushing yourself into that zone of discomfort.
2) Consistency. Do something small every single day to continue to build your confidence in the area that you are looking to develop. If you are a runner, you will understand the analogy that you cannot go and run 20 or 30 kilometers once a month and expect to have the same results and not get injured, than as compared to running a shorter more manageable distance every single day, slowly increasing your mileage.
3) Stay in the gains. Not in the gap. This comes from the excellent book, The Gap and The Gain, by Dan Sullivan and Dr Ben Hardy. Once a week ,or as often as you can, take an inventory of the things that you are progressing in your life. Make a note of the small wins that you make daily, and then once a month reflect back and see the gains that you have made in some aspect of your life. You need to train your brain to continue to see where you are making gains. Where you place your energy and your focus, your brain will continue to see more of that thing. So, train your brain to focus on your wins. This will help you continue to build your confidence, particularly during the times where challenges arise and you need to find more resilience.
In summary, if you want to fulfill more of your potential, use your innate gifts, find more purpose and bring your A game to your work, then it will take time, consistency, a growth mindset, courage AND plenty of failures along the way.
If there is only one thing to take away from this article, is to address your mindset. Shift it to a place where you genuinely excited about failure. Excited about the opportunity of getting something wrong. It is with that mindset that you can move through the three Cs: to find the courage to develop competence and build and breed your confidence.