The Value of Confidence
Confidence can be viewed as a belief in your ability to succeed. Too much confidence can certainly have a damaging effect, as you fail to see those things that will hold you back. However, not having enough confidence can cause you to shy away from taking calculated risks. This lack of confidence can have a negative impact on all areas of your life and can seriously hamper your progress. The first thing to do is establish what confidence means to you and how to check if your confidence levels are high enough. You can learn how to take control of a confidence crisis here.
Recently I was asked a question by a student on one of my courses:
Would you like to be more confident?
The question actually stopped me in my tracks for a moment. Although in my natural habitat, I consider myself to be a genuinely confident person, it got me thinking about situations that I have recently avoided. Could it be that I lacked confidence in that particular area? I dismissed that notion straight away but on reflection, I couldn´t come up with a single valid reason why I had avoided these situations.
The conclusion that I came to was, whereas I may have been super confident about something a number of years ago, without constant attention to this area, could my confidence have taken a dip?
The answer: It was definitely worth investigating.
During my reflective practice, I also learned this: confidence means different things for different people at different times of life.
What does confidence mean to you?
That´s a very open question but let´s explore a few possibilities
- Communicating effectively in a second language
- Delivering a presentation to the board of directors
- Asking your boss for a pay rise
- Attending a job interview
- Setting up your own business
The truth is that there is nothing like a first day at school and everything takes confidence to greater or lesser degrees. We have all heard the saying, “if it´s worth doing, it´s worth doing well” and it´s true. However, the ability to do something well often lies in having the confidence. Sure, experience will help you with that too, but you can´t teach or learn experience, whereas confidence, you absolutely can. The key is knowing how to tap into the confidence and bring it to the surface in times of need.
Before we explore how to tap into your hidden confidence, let me ask you the same question that my student asked me:
Would you like to be more confident?
If your answer is “no”, do the same exercise as I did. Pause and reflect. There´s surely something in your life that would benefit from some extra confidence. If you are still stuck with thinking about areas for developing confidence, it could be a cue to push yourself out of your comfort zone and set new targets and goals. You can find out more about goal setting here.
If your answer to that question is “YES”, I still want you to pause and reflect. Why? Very simply, as we established above, confidence can mean different things to different people. They key here, is to absolutely sure of two things:
- What area of your life you would like to build confidence.
- Why you want it.
Without establishing the above, your simple “YES” answer, lacks direction and purpose. You need to define the exact area, that that you can work specifically on building confidence with purpose. A simple “yes I would like to be more confident”, is never really going to cut it here. You´re not likely to move too far from your present state. To increase your confidence in a desired area, you need a plan of action that includes goals and a deadline.
Do you have a specific task that you need to do?
Do you have the level of confidence required?
Check Your Confidence Levels
Answer the following questions with YES or NO.
- Do you often find that you can´t make decisions yourself and look for the support of others?
- Do you always seem to be in need of a support system to make you feel secure?
- Do you just sit, listening in silence throughout meetings?
- If you have an excellent idea, do you find it difficult to summon up the courage to talk to your superiors about it?
- Does the thought of speaking in public to an audience that you don´t know, fill you with fear?
- Do you find it difficult to say no to extra tasks even when yoru workload is overflowing?
- Does what other people think about you, really bother you?
- Do you avoid taking risks at all costs?
- Are you unsatisfied with your general appearance?
- Do large social gatherings make you feel uncomfortable?
If answered YES to any of these questions, confidence levels might well be proving to be an obstacle instead of a springboard to successful task completion.
Firstly, don´t worry and secondly, don´t start blaming yourself for failed attempts at anything.
The great news is that you have just become aware of an area for potential development in your life. This newfound awareness can be used as a tool to eliminate the compounding negative effects of low confidence levels and start working on building a new, more positive and confident you.
Here are some further questions for you to answer.
- Have you accomplished anything in the past?
- Do you normally break the ice at in new social occasions or do you wait for someone else to do it?
- Do you feel you are well respected by others?
- Do you think you have what it takes to succeed?
- Are you a happy and loving person?
- Are you satisfied with your career path so far?
- Are you satisfied with your skills and qualifications?
- Do you feel you are in control of the direction of your life?
- Do you imagine future successes for yourself?
- Do you feel that you are a worthwhile person?
If you answered NO to most of these questions, you have LOW self-confidence levels.
Nothing is ever final. Developing confidence like any self-development is an iterative process and takes patience. You need to constantly work on and through the weak points in order to turn them into positive attributes that can be built on. It might take a little time, depending on the size of your task but the good news is that, YOU CAN DO IT.
Before we finish with this, it’s vital that you answered all of the above questions honestly. If you feel that you may have exaggerated your confidence levels, go back through them and answer them again. Nobody else needs to know and you are doing yourself a great service by doing this. Once you have a complete grasp of your current confidence levels, you also have a starting point that you can use a measure for development. You can constantly check your progress on your journey to building and sustaining your growth in confidence.
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