Some personalities are more likely to question themselves than others and women seem to need the confidence boost more often than men. I discussed a smattering of the studies about this in my post on The Confidence Gap. If you are up for a long and fascinating read, I recommend this article by the authors of The Confidence Code.
Confidence is like a muscle – with exercise, you can strengthen it. These 10 steps will help you re-train your brain to be more confidence prone.
10 Ways to Boost Your Confidence
1. Take action. Practice being decisive. Don’t put things off – decide.
“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.”
Overwhelmed people stop. Intellectual people often over-think things and are afflicted with paralysis by analysis. It’s actually better to make a wrong decision than to choose inaction. Make a list of the decisions you’ve been putting off (even the really little ones) and check one off every day.
2. Watch your posture. One of my favorite Ted Talks is Amy Cuddy’s message on how how “power posing” — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success.
3. Dress smartly. Everyone can agree that your choice of clothes sends a message to others, but it’s vital to consider the message your choice sends to you. I know more than a few leaders who have “uniforms” – favorite go-to outfits for meetings or speaking engagements that make them feel strong. Is it more important to impress others with your wardrobe variety or feel confident and comfortable? Don’t discount the importance of your clothes, shoes and accessories in how they make YOU feel.
4. Recognize your signature strengths. Stay in your zone as much as possible. In an effort to be super-efficient, it’s easy to find yourself doing tasks that should have been delegated. My advice to those of us who try to juggle too much is, “just because you can doesn’t mean you should.”
5. Avoid comparison with others. The Internet has made this easier to do than ever. It wasn’t healthy decades ago when it was called “keeping up with the Jones”. And it’s not healthier in an age when you are comparing yourself to strangers on the internet. The only person you should compare yourself with is the person you were yesterday. Press on.
“Remember, no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
6. Spend time with confident people. The people you spend time with have a direct affect on your attitude and perceptions. For example, I think one of the great appeals of networking marketing organizations is the energy and synergy of the members. We are designed to be relational – people need encouragement and strength from others with similar goals. That’s one of the reasons I offer group coaching. It can make all the difference as you pursue your destiny.
7. Watch your words, starting with your email messages. Check your language to see if you are in the habit of using qualifiers. Tara Mohr authored “Playing Big” and discusses the habit of many women who self-sabotage in speech and writing by saying things like:
“I just want to check in and see…” “I just think…”
This sounds apologetic.
“I actually disagree…” “I actually have a question.”
This makes it sound like you are surprised to have a different opinion or insight.
“I’m no expert in this, but…”
This undermines your position.
“Does that make sense?” or “Am I making sense?”
This most likely indicates your desire to check in and make sure others understand what you are communicating. It implies you are not sure you are coherent.
Instead, use phrases like:
I’m confident . . .
I’m convinced . . .
I’m optimistic . . .
I expect . . .
8. Ban perfectionism. I’m careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Measuring your efforts by a standard that requires perfection is certainly not a confidence booster. Research by Cameron Anderson at the University of California at Berkeley shows that women applied for a promotion only when they met 100 percent of the qualifications. Men applied when they met 50 percent. Guess who gets promoted more often?
9. Identify areas that you beat yourself up and stop it. What if a big fat dirty pig burst through the front door of your house and started wreaking havoc. Would you just sit and observe while he went on a destructive rampage in your living room? I think you’d be working hard to shoo him out and shut the door. Negative thoughts are like muddy pigs in your head. You can entertain them or get them out.
10. Strategize a plan to strengthen your competence. Undoubtedly, competence is a logical route to increased confidence. The more focused and intentional you become on improving your skill in an area, the more confident you will become. Don’t just wish you were better, do the work.
“Don’t wish it was easier, wish you were better. Don’t wish for less problems, wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenge, wish for more wisdom.” Jim Rohn
As a bonus, here is the audio of the Tele-Conference I offered on Bridging the Confidence Gap. It is 40 minutes in length.