Updated: Mar 28
Let me tell you the BIGGEST mistake people make.
Confidence is a slippery bugger.
You can gain it and lose it. You can boost it or it can grow. You can look it, be it, have it, feel it, seem it. You can be brimming with confidence or deep in a crisis of confidence. Confidence can be tested, built and dealt a blow.
But what IS this strange substance that some people seem to have in spades and others struggle to find? How can it be simultaneously present in one area of your life and practically non-existent in another?
I'm fascinated by the concept of confidence. The way it manifests itself in the way we look, feel, talk and behave. Confidence lives in our minds, our bodies and our actions. It can be both a mental state and at times a very physical experience.
Getting Your Brain to Behave
My clients often come to me saying they've "lost their confidence". It's part of my job as a coach to help you rebuild it. We look at your mindset and the beliefs you've accepted about yourself that are holding you back. We work to counter the negative thoughts and assumptions your brain offers up in the belief it's keeping you safe from danger. We reconnect with areas of your life where you are already confident and see what lessons can be learned there. We focus on your strengths and abilities and override your default position that you "can't". Your "what ifs?" and your "I would, but"s .
There's such fertile ground for growing your confidence by tackling your mindset.
But when it comes to making real progress, there is one thing I stress above all others. And it doesn't always get a great reception:
Confidence comes from doing.
How many times do you find yourself thinking that "Once I feel more confident I'll start applying for jobs"? Or "I need to regain my confidence so that I can approach my old colleagues for advice"?
No, no, no, no, no! Sorry folks. Sit around waiting for the confidence fairy to pay you a visit and you risk doing absolutely nothing. It's the biggest mistake you can make.
If you remember only one thing from this article it should be this.
Action does not follow confidence. Confidence follows action.
It's so important, you should hear that again. Just louder.
ACTION DOES NOT FOLLOW CONFIDENCE ... CONFIDENCE FOLLOWS ACTION.
That's the simple version. If you want the psychologists' version, that would be the Confidence/Competence loop, which I've recreated below whilst indulging my love of playing around in the Canva app. Here's how it goes, with my best layperson's explanation:
OBJECTIVE OR TASK: You've got something you want to do. It's scary. You're worried you'll be rubbish. You've not done it before, or not for ages. What will people say? How embarrassing will it be? This is where you're getting stuck. And where it's tempting to sit around waiting to feel more confident. Don't.
ACTION OR PRACTICE: Start with something manageable. Use all the mindset techniques you need to support you, take the plunge and give it a go. Does the world fall apart? Are you so bad your friends and family stop talking to you? Does the national press camp outside your door to ask why you are an abject failure? Unlikely.
LEARN & FEEDBACK: Actually this is where the magic starts to happen. Chances are it goes well, or at least reasonably ok. You quickly see where there is room for improvement. Where things weren't great, you work out what you need to differently. Other people advise you of changes you could make. Essentially, triumph or not, you learn something and are better equipped for the next time. Even if you "FAIL", you have made a "First Attempt In Learning"
COMPETENCE: As a result of what you learn, you start to increase your competence. You make progress, gain experience and get better. Your skillset builds.
CONFIDENCE: As you realise you are getting more accomplished and less fearful, so your confidence grows. As you loop back to the task another time, you come at it with more self-belief. You can gradually stretch yourself to take on more challenging goals, knowing that by getting into action, you will make progress and feel more confident! Rinse and repeat.
What do you think? How could the Confidence/Competence loop help you? What could you take action on to start growing your competence and see your confidence start to follow?
Go on, I dare you.