Are you a confident person? Petris Lapis shares her secrets on becoming more confident and how it can help you succeed.
I have three questions for you:
- What is as closely linked to success as competence?
- Why do some people apply for a job they are only half qualified for?
- Why do some people underestimate their abilities while others overestimate theirs?
The answer to these questions is ‘confidence’. People who have more confidence get more promotions, ask for bigger pay increases and seek out more opportunities than their equally competent colleagues. But confidence is hard and something that a lot of people aren’t born with—often developing your confidence is much harder than learning the specialised skills you need to complete your job. So, how do you do this?
Fortunately, there are some simple strategies everyone can use to bridge that confidence gap.
#1 ‘Good enough’ is more helpful than perfection. Perfection is an unattainable goal and having worked with perfectionists, it also consumes a lot of time and energy that could have been put to more productive use. When you set the bar at perfectionism, you will not only feel permanently inadequate, but you will also put off doing things you don’t believe you can do perfectly (like that promotion or using the new software). When you set your bar at ‘good enough’, you will still produce high quality output, but you open yourself up to more productive pursuits.
#2 Have different conversations with the voice in your head. That voice inside your head is going to keep on doing its thing, but you can change what you do when it pipes up with its judgements, criticism and negativity. I ask myself, ‘Will acting on this commentary help me achieve what I want or help me to live the life I want?’ If not, then I thank my mind for the feedback and start taking steps towards the goal I was contemplating anyway. If I keep listening to it, there are days I would never go anywhere. I know the little voice is trying to look out for me and stop me from getting hurt or disappointed. In those moments when it is telling me I won’t be able to do something, I tell it to remember Nelson Mandela when he said, ‘It always seems impossible until it’s done.’
#3 Don’t wait until you feel confident, act confident instead. There are plenty of times I have walked in to teach a workshop and I have not felt confident about how things would turn out, but I kept walking in anyway. Dr Seuss spoke of a ‘waiting place’ full of people who were just waiting until the thing they are waiting for turns up. If you are waiting until you feel confident to do something, you may be stuck in the waiting place (your comfort zone) a long time. The feeling of confidence usually comes after you have gained skills in an area. The only way to gain those skills is to start. If, for example, you don’t want to organise an event because you aren’t confident you will do it well, there is only one way to build that confidence and get those skills. Take action and start.
#4 Accept that it will feel uncomfortable. When you step outside your comfort zone and do things to challenge yourself, it feels uncomfortable. That is perfectly normal and a natural human reaction. Instead of putting energy into fighting the feeling or avoiding it, notice it, accept it, give it space, take a couple of deep breaths and keep moving forward. If you are feeling uncomfortable because of fear, see if you can channel the fear into forward moving energy. I rowed with a lady who had represented Australia. I asked her what her strategy was for nerves at the start line. She said, ‘I push all that nervous energy down into my feet ready for the first push of the race.’ She knew she couldn’t stop the discomfort, so she channelled it into a useful source of energy.
There are marvellous opportunities waiting for us all when we leave the waiting place and push ourselves. Sometimes we will succeed and sometimes we won’t, but we’ll learn a lot along the way—that is the journey of a life lived confidently.
Petris Lapis has worked in accounting, law, academia, banking, business and training. She has consulted to government and industry and published several books and hundreds of papers. She has studied commerce, law, coaching, NLP and hypnosis. Petris is a rower, a coach and a mum to two teenagers. She loves warm sunny days, great food, laughter, exercise and moments of calm.