How To Be More Confident – Life Lessons In Confidence
As I write this I am 37 years old, married with 3 kids aged 6, 3 and 1. I’ve been running my business for nearly 8 years and in that time I’ve lived in 6 different places. It’s been a busy 8 years, and for me probably the most rewarding. Today, I feel confident, I know who I am and I feel good about what I do.
I’m going to share with you some life lessons I’ve picked up along the way over the last 8-10 years. I hope you enjoy them and can see yourself in them too.
1. You're really not that important
(I’m not being mean, honestly – read on!)
Most people consume themselves with their own thoughts, thoughts about “am I good enough”, “What does he think of me”, “Am I in the right job”, “What shall I have
for tea tonight?”, “What time is my train again?”, “I need a holiday”, “I wish I had more money”.
Internal dialogue is LOUD. People don’t tend to go around spending their days thinking about you and whether what you said in that meeting was put across well, or whether you look ok, or whether you’re doing your job well. If they do have a comment to make about your work or your life it’s probably fleeting. The amount of time you spend worrying about the small stuff is waaaay out of proportion with the time that others are thinking the same about you.
2. You're a Good Person
You are! You’re a good person. Maybe you’ve had a shitty day, yelled at your kids or
fallen out with your husband. Maybe you’ve missed a deadline or messed up in work.
Don’t mistake poor judgement for you being a bad person. Drop the guilt, learn what
you need to learn from the event and move on. We’re all allowed to fall off our A Game every now and again, it’s what makes us human. It doesn’t make us bad humans.
3. Practice doesn't make perfect but it's better than inaction
As a kid I was in all the top sets at school. I found school easy. I knew how to learn
material to pass exams, and I did well. I had to study for it, but not THAT hard. The
information went in and I have a good short term memory that helps me to retain facts. Well done me. And, you know what, I enjoyed being good at it.
What I enjoyed even more though was drama, and singing and music, but (low and behold) I wasn’t born able to play the piano. I wasn’t picked for the main roles in the school play, I
wasn’t gifted with the voice of an angel. So, I didn’t invest my time in it.
At University I had to select which ‘options’ to study within my degree and I very clearly
remember choosing a topic which I knew I’d nail. I didn’t particularly like the subject,
but I knew the lecturers style and I knew I would walk the exam. Basically, until I became an adult I never really had to try that hard to be successful in something.
So,what’s my lesson here. Things that are hard require practise, and no matter how hard you practise, if you have high standards and are a bit of a perfectionist, you might not meet them. B- work is good work and it’s better than nothing at all. Avoiding something because you might not be the best at it, or “good enough’ at it is a fools approach, and being OK at something is better than not being able to do it at all. The more you do something, the better you get and before you know it, your confidence is growing.
4. Don't be so self obsessed
Another controversial one here, but here’s the thing. If we took every minute that we
spent beating ourselves up and instead applied that to learning, or changing, or action, or helping others, wouldn’t our internal chatter be a little quieter? I think I’ll just leave that one there.
5. Growth and fear go hand in hand
I used to hate being amongst groups of people that I didn’t know. I hated it and felt awkward and out of place. Something came over me and I didn’t know what to say to people or how to mix. It took me right back to feeling like the shy child. I’d do anything to avoid those moments.
Years later I found myself in a job and I had booked to go on a course. It was a week long course and I knew nobody else who was going. I vividly remember the first day of the course, walking into a room and not knowing what to do with myself. I think I even hid in the toilet for about 10 minutes to kill time before the event started. I was a grown up adult of about 27 behaving like my inner awkward child.
After this course, there was another, and another, then a seminar, then a conference, then I had to host events and another and another. Bit by bit each experience got easier. I knew how to handle myself and I learnt how to build rapport and relationships. I felt less awkward and even learnt that I was quite good at it (and that I was normal).
My lesson here is that if I’d let the fear stop me I wouldn’t be doing what I do today, and I can genuinely say that this is not an issue at all for me today. I would never have imagined being able to say that back at that first course I went on. So remember, growth and fear go hand in hand.
6. We're all blagging it
One great lesson I’ve learned through my work as a coach is that no-one really has it
all together. People move through phases of their life, sometimes riding the high where everything is going well and life is good, but there are other times where things just start to fall apart. You get stressed with work, or home life is too much, or the work is too challenging, or you lose your mojo, or you can’t seem to find the answers to whatever problem you’re facing.
We’re all blagging it at one point or another so don’t feel so bad when this happens to you. You’ll get through it, people always do and the best thing about these times are – you will learn something from it. Hindsight really is a wonderful thing.
7. What is confidence anyway?
Does it mean I’m not confident if I’m nervous before a big meeting? Does it mean I’m
not confident if I don’t want to go and network in my company? Does it mean I’m not
confident if I don’t want to go to a big social event?
There will be times where you won’t feel confident. Don’t make the mistake of generalising that with an entire lack of confidence in that area of your life. Look for evidence of where you ARE confident and you will find it. It’s OK to not be comfortable about things all of the time. It’s normal. If it’s holding you back, that’s when it’s time to take action.
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