If I had a magic pill to boost self-confidence, I would be a billionaire. Literally a billionaire!
But I am sorry to say that while I don’t have a REAL magic pill, I do have a helpful way to think differently about self-confidence.
To get to this new mindset, I want to share a little of my story with you.
Throughout the bulk of my career, I was employed by one large company. I was 22 years old and a recent college graduate when I started there and really had no idea what I wanted to do. I performed well as an individual contributor and was eventually promoted into management.
Once I reached mid-level management, I was given the opportunity to switch roles every 2-3 years. I loved those cross-functional moves and trying new disciplines and felt that being given these opportunities was truly a blessing. However, the curse of it all was that self-doubt and imposter syndrome began to emerge. It would seem natural that I would experience this given increased responsibility for leading teams within new and unfamiliar disciplines. But I began to believe I had the dreaded “confidence problem”.
Executive presence, candor, poise, and unflappable confidence are an expectation within many large firms. One small comment from your boss, tiny bits of feedback from others, and small mistakes can start building giant fabrications and self-inflicted confidence wounds in your mind.
Those confidence challenges had the potential to really hold me back, but they didn’t. So, what changed? How did I turn my confidence problem around? I was lucky to be given the opportunity to participate in a simple assessment called Clifton Strengthsfinder. Within my top 6 (yes, the current version lists more than just top 5) – there it was, my magic pill – “self-assurance”.
Strengthsfinder defines self-assurance this way:
“In the deepest part of you, you have faith in your strengths. You know that you are able – able to take risks, able to meet new challenges, able to stake claims, and most important, able to deliver. Blessed with the theme of self-assurance, you have the confidence not only in your abilities but in your judgement.”
It goes on to say “No matter what the situation, you seem to know what the right decision is. This self-assurance may be quiet or loud, but it is solid. It is strong. Like the keel of a ship, it withstands many different pressures and keeps you on your course”.
The light bulb came on right then and there. Yes! My self-assurance was quiet, but it has always guided me. It explains why it was, perhaps, easier for me to take on risks, new cross-functional roles, and even physical relocations. My values have always guided me and self-assurance was part of that ride. I have experienced many highs and lows in my career and have both survived and grown because I’ve always believed in myself and my journey. I also believe that things happen for a reason and with pains come gifts and lessons.
So, why am I talking about self-assurance when this story is how to gain more confidence. Believe it or not, self-assurance is bigger than confidence. The more assured that you are about who you are and what you have to offer, the more confident you can be in your everyday actions. Think of gains in self-assurance as a parallel path to gaining self-confidence.
Now, for the magic pill.
Are you ready?
Here it is: gain assurance and believe in yourself – and the confidence will follow.
Here are 4 basic steps to gain assurance (and confidence):
Know your values. There are simple exercises to help you pinpoint them. My values are determination, adventure, optimism, connection, and integrity. When I am in alignment with these values, I trust that I would never make a catastrophic decision, say the wrong thing, or lead my team down the wrong path. My values won’t let me, so I can stop ruminating about “what ifs” and “did I say the wrong things” growing my assurance and confidence.
Take your self-assurance inventory. Go back through your career. List every single challenge, obstacle, risk, or hurdle you have overcome. List every win, every success, and most joyful moments. They can be personal or professional. What about these experiences were a result of your direct involvement? What was the gift? What did you learn about yourself? How did you grow?
Believe 1000% in your strengths. Do the work to uncover your unique, compelling, and even the obvious strengths you possess. Be able to articulate them, promote them and apply them in your daily life/job. And if you are not aware, try an assessment like Strengthfinder or DISC to gain these powerful insights.
Reframe the moving target of self-confidence. We will always experience moments of self-doubt and that is normal. Instead, rely on your self-assurance and what you know to be true about yourself.
Next time you find yourself struggling with confidence, simply try a new way of thinking. Try self-assurance. Have the belief and historical proof that you can (and will) overcome hard things. Believe that your values will never steer you wrong. Believe, unequivocally, that you possess the strengths needed to sort through whatever hardship comes your way.
You’ve worked hard for all these life experiences; trust that they’ve served their purpose.
If you would like help in understanding how your own self-assurance can lead to greater confidence, we are here for you.
Ann Ritterspach, the Growth Coach at WeInspireWe, is passionate about inspiring growth (and confidence) in leaders. With a great appreciation of the challenges before us and the opportunities to learn, Ann offers coaching to be a catalyst for growth for her clients, deeply connecting with them, and energizing them to pursue their professional goals and dreams. If you're ready to elevate your confidence and your leadership, schedule your free strategy session with Ann today.