Confidence is such a hard thing to maintain, because it can be crushed at any moment.
Confidence is so important though, because it gives us the strength we need to accomplish almost anything.
How many times have you been held back because of a lack of confidence? I know for me it’s probably in the hundreds.
Consider how lack of confidence could even be affecting your earnings.
Studies found that men, who are usually more confident, initiate salary negotiations 4 times as often as women. When women do negotiate, they ask for 30% less than men do.
Many people struggle with lack of self-confidence and it holds us back. We need to work hard on improving our self-confidence and self-esteem if we want to be the type of leaders that employees look up to.
Researchers are starting to see confidence as a key element of internal well-being and happiness.
Without confidence, we’re unable to achieve flow, the magical feeling when you’re “in the zone.” If you don’t believe in your skills, you’ll never be able to achieve that state of ultimate productivity.
In this TED talk, Athletic Director and head coach of the varsity soccer team at Ryerson University, Dr. Ivan Joseph talks about how self confidence is the number one skill he looks for in athletes. He talks about how important it is in sports and our daily lives.
We often share tips on how to be a better leader, but many of these things are near impossible if you have low self-esteem and low confidence.
It is possible to build more confidence and have a higher self-esteem, but it takes a lot of work. The secret: building better habits.
Building Confidence As A Habit
The secret to building anything into your life is to make it a habit.
The same is true for confidence and self-esteem. It’s incredibly difficult though, because we’re naturally inclined to fall back to old comforting habits and the idea of building confidence is new and stressful for most people.
Being unconfident is a habit in itself.
One of the main reasons unconfident people stay unconfident is that they’re comfortable being unconfident. They continually live their lives that way.
So the only way to become more confident is to build it as a habit and become comfortable being confident.
The research has shown that the best way to build a new habit is to start so small it seems ridiculously easy.
Two famous examples of this are flossing one tooth per day and doing just one push-up per day. They both seem so easy, so we can get started quickly, but we naturally want to finish what we start so we often end up doing more.
This is what’s known as the Zeigarnik effect.
Here are a few very simple things you could do to start building more confidence as a mini-habit:
- Say one good thing about yourself first thing in the morning
- Say good morning to one person when you get to work
- Dress well one day a week
- Add one idea/comment at the next team meeting
- Do an easy task first thing in the morning
- When you wake up, smile and tell yourself it’s going to be a great day
One problem, is that we’re notoriously bad at judging our own confidence. We often think we’re much better than we are.
The Science Of Confidence
The research on confidence is truly interesting and shows why it’s such a hard thing to get right.
Fear Of Failure
It’s normal to be scared of failing, no one likes to fail, but fear of failure is when the idea of failing is so strong that it overpowers the idea of success.
Fear of failure is a tough one to fix, because it’s on an unconscious level and they often can’t handle the idea of the shame that comes with failing.
The best way to overcome this is to start small. Find something so small and insignificant you’d be okay with failing it, and learn to accept that failure.
Imposter Syndrome is feeling like an impostor when you’re not. Like you’re a fraud and the whole world is going to find you out.
Famous people like Oprah, Sheryl Sandberg, Tina Fey and Maya Angelou all admit to feeling like they’re not good enough.
The best way to overcome this is by not being afraid to pat yourself on the back. You don’t want to be arrogant, but it’s important to understand that you had a lot to do with where you are right now. You should be proud of yourself for your accomplishments.
The Optimism Bias
We’re actually naturally inclined to be optimistic.
The Optimism Bias is our tendency to overestimate our likelihood of experiencing good events in our lives and underestimate our likelihood of experiencing bad events.
While I encourage everyone to build up confidence and have a high self-esteem, some reality needs to be taken into account as well. We need a healthy dose of both optimism and precaution to set ourselves up for success.
The Dunning-Kruger Effect
The Dunning-Kruger Effect is a cognitive bias where less competent people rate their competence higher than it actually is, while more competent people rate theirs lower.
Like I mentioned earlier, we’re horrible at judging our own skills at something.
This is a tough one to fix, but if you’re more competent, focus on understanding the value you bring to a team or organization.
While you might naturally think you’re worse than you are, you’re bringing a ton of value, and you should be proud of that!
Ways To Improve Your Confidence
The secret to making this work is persistence. It’s so easy to just give up after one or two tries if you see no results, but results take time.
Here are a few things you can do to help improve your confidence.
Take Care Of Your Personal Image
Dress well, shower, shave, etc. Take some time in the morning to make sure you’re looking your best.
It might seem superficial, but it’s crazy how much of an effect it can have on your confidence when you think you look good.
There’s two parts to this. First, think positive thoughts. Second, remove any negative thoughts.
In the morning, say out loud “you’re a great person, you look incredible, and you’re gonna have a great day today!”
When a negative thought comes in your head, argue with yourself. Keep reminding yourself how good you are.
Work On Your Body Language
You want to express confident body language.
Stand tall, speak clearly, talk with your hands, don’t fidget, look people in the eyes, practice active listening, etc.
Similar to the idea of looking good, you want to feel good about yourself, and exercise is great way to achieve that.
Besides all of the other amazing health benefits that exercise has, giving you more confidence is one of them.
Helping others makes you feel more confident in your abilities.
Always offer your help to other coworkers that need it, and seek help from them. You’ll be helping them gain more confidence as well.
And don’t worry about feeling like you don’t have enough time, when we help others, we actually feel LESS time constrained.
How Do You Build Confidence?
Any tips to share with us in the comments? Do you think confidence is the key to success? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!