Which of us hasn’t said ‘when I’ve had more experience at this, I’ll be much more confident’?
Whilst experience can help build confidence, I don’t think it’s the only way. It could even be argued that experience can also be detrimental to self-confidence. Let’s say that you make a presentation once and for some reason, it all goes wrong. This experience isn’t going to make you feel confident about next time you present.
Often, we undermine ourselves from within. One of my clients, let’s call her Sarah, told me about how her inner voice would whisper ‘who are you kidding? You can’t do this!’ just as she was about to lead a meeting of the working group she’d been asked to head up.
I asked her to give me an example of a time when she’d felt really confident and then to stand up and show me how she looked at such times. After a bit of nervous laughter, Sarah stood up, very tall and proud, shoulders back, big smile, a very open posture. She was the picture of confidence.
‘What makes you so confident?’ I asked. ‘I know I can do this,’ answered Sarah, ‘I’ve done everything I can to prepare and I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.’
‘So now show me how you think you stand when you walk into that working group,’ I asked. Cue more laughter as Sarah dropped her shoulders, hunched over and somehow made herself look so much smaller. She looked like a flower beaten down by the rain!
‘How is this situation different?’ I asked. ‘Have you done everything you can to prepare for the meeting?’
‘Yes,’ she answered, ‘and before you ask, yes, I’m as ready as I’ll ever be! The only difference seems to be how I feel about the working group. There are some big hitters in that group and I really want to make a good impression.’
‘What does the fact you’ve been chosen to lead this working group of big hitters suggest to you?’ I asked.
‘That no-one else wants to do it!’ Sarah laughed. ‘Or there is just the possibility that someone thinks I might be good at it …’
We decided to work with her second option! We role-played Sarah going into the meeting with that confident, open stance and how that might feel. We talked about how she could remind herself on her way to the meeting of other times when she’d felt confident and of the effect her posture had – both on herself emotionally and on the way she appeared to this room full of big hitters.
Golda Meir, former Prime Minister of Israel, said:
“Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement”
Sarah took her own tiny sparks of possibility and used them to combat that irritating inner voice.
Today’s pebble for you: where do you need to fan the tiny inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement?
What do you think?
Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching.
If you’d like to make progress in your work and life, why not email me to see how we could work together?