Let’s start by answering the question….What is confidence? I’m curious to know what your answer to that question would be. Ask yourself, what does confidence look like to you? What does it feel like? What affect does it have in the way I experience my life?
I’d like to expand on the definition of self-confidence by introducing two concepts:
Self-efficacy and self-esteem.
Self-efficacy is the belief that we are capable of performing in a certain manner to attain a certain goal – such as, your belief that you could drive two miles away from here and return with ease.
Self-efficacy is the belief that you have what it takes to manage situations that you might find yourself in. For example, again using the driving analogy, most of you probably believe that you could drive in an unfamiliar town. You might have to turn around a couple of times – unless you have your GPS – AND listen to it! But you believe you could do it.
Self-esteem, on the other hand, is not so much about your capabilities, but how you feel about your self-worth. The higher your self-esteem, the more self-worth you feel. And here’s what we know, people with higher self-worth are willing to try new things. They feel that they have a right to be happy. And for the most part, people with healthy self-esteem feel that the people around them approve of them – for the most part.
So, if we add self-efficacy and self-esteem to the equation, then a good definition of confidence is this:
Confidence is the belief that I am capable of identifying and achieving what I want and believing that I am worthwhile.
Sometimes the easiest way for us to define confidence is by identifying a moment in our lives when we felt confident.
I’d like for you to do that right now. Think about a time when you felt confident. It could have been something you did in school, it could have been a moment in childhood, it could have been something you accomplished at home or at work. But for just a moment, think about a moment of confidence in your life.
One of the things that I want to point out to you is this:
The moment you grab onto that confidence, don’t you find yourself sitting a little straighter, breathing a little deeper, perhaps a smile begins to form on your lips. Engagement with others becomes easier. Don’t you find a bit more “open” and “authentic?”
What you have just exhibited are some characteristics of confidence:
And with those ideas, I’d like to address the second important question…
How do I get more confidence?
This is such a great question. In fact, it is the question that most people I work with want to know. Here’s Meagan’s story.
“I don’t know what to do. I know that I need to lose about 15 pounds and I need to work on my communication skills too. I just don’t know where to start. I don’t have any real friends at work – and I’ve been there about 4 months. I don’t think anyone there is interested in me. So, then, after work, I’m so tired that I don’t want to do anything but go home and fix some pasta and watch television. I used to belong to a gym, but after I moved here, I didn’t have anybody to go with me. I hate doing things like that by myself and don’t want to waste the money. blah, blah, blah…What do you think I ought to do?”
Perhaps Meagan’s story is a little extreme, but truthfully, I think that most people who need a confidence boost share very similar stories. They want to make a change in their lives – maybe a big one, maybe a small one. But they don’t have the confidence in themselves to start.
So, I’m curious. What is something that you would like to try – something that maybe you’ve put on the back burner for a long time – or it could be something you have a burning desire to accomplish.
I want you to think about that idea for just a minute.
In order to do something different, we need a confidence boost to get started.
One of the basic ways to develop your confidence is to identify a goal and then take small, but progressive steps to reach that goal.
For example: What do you think Meagan should do?
I bet you have ideas.
What I want you to take away from this piece today are 5 points on how to increase your confidence.
- Identify realistic goals – the goals must be attainable.
- Break the goal down into manageable action steps that are measurable.
- Have an accountability person (like a coach) to help you stay on track.
- Identify your fears. We all have fears. Sometimes they can cause us to act heroically, but more often than not, they can cause us to shut down. Recognize that fear is normal, and don’t let it stop you. One of the greatest fears we all have is the fear of failing, looking dumb, or letting people down.
- The fifth point to help you increase your confidence is to learn how to “fail forward” – this means when you don’t meet a certain goal or make a mistake, you don’t give up or beat yourself up. You simply acknowledge that you are human and that you will learn from the mistake.
Here’s an idea for the next time you fail – say to yourself, “O.K., I goofed. I made a mistake and will own up to it without criticizing myself or judging myself. Then, ask yourself, What can I learn from this mistake?” “What’s the takeaway that can potentially make me a better, more confident person?”
When you take those 5 steps toward approaching a goal, you will increase your confidence with each step. And confidence is a funny thing – it’s like a muscle – the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets.
See you tomorrow!