How to be confident even if you don’t feel like you are

Confidence. Everyone knows it’s a key factor of success and wants to feel confident in what they do. But what can you do if you don’t feel confident? Can you really fake it till you make it? In this week’s blog I share my confidence tips so you can speak like Winston Churchill and take on the world.

When I quit my job to become a coach entrepreneur, one of my assoUntitled design (2)ciates said to me, “I wish I had your confidence.” This comment surprised me. While I was confident in some respects – I didn’t feel that confident, at least not all the time. A few nights I didn’t sleep. I was worrying that I could have made a horrible mistake: ‘What if I fail?’ ‘What if I regret my decision?’

What helped me make the decision was a solid exit strategy (more in my ebook), a strong belief in my purpose, proof that I could get clients and strong mentors around me.

The truth is you can be confident and scared at the same time, or at least gravitate between the two. If you’re not feeling any fear in your work, you’re probably staying in your comfort zone. It’s not like you reach destination confidence and the fear goes away.

So not feeling confident is not a reason to shy away from taking risks in your career. It’s an opportunity to acknowledge the feeling and build confidence: what you are resisting may well be your ticket to fulfilment and satisfaction in your work.

The gift of fear is preparation – by seeing into the future what could go wrong, you can take action today to minimise the chances of that happening. And the gift of lack of confidence is practice. If you can just get over the initial hurdle of not wanting to do something that you are not good at (yet), the prize comes with repeated practice.

Many think Winston Churchill was a naturally gifted speaker. He once said: “They say that nobody is perfect. Then they tell you practice makes perfect. I wish they’d make up their minds.” Perhaps seeking perfection was what drove him: his secret was hours of practice and preparation.

As a new entrepreneur there are things I can do easily now that 6 months ago I would have never thought I could do. So if you are thinking of making a career change or starting a business, don’t use the level of your current skills as a reason not to do it.

You just need to make a decision to build that skill no matter what – let your passion and purpose be the reason to get over your fears and do it. Start practicing while you are still in your current role, whether it be seeking out opportunities to do probono or volunteer work, becoming an intrapreneur or building up a side income.

There are lots of strategies to build confidence. Here are a selection that I use myself and with my clients:

  • Hold your body confidently: Confidence is a function of mental, emotional and somatic (body) factors. Moving any one of these 3 variables in a positive direction will help to draw the others into line. For an instant shift, I find the body the easiest to target. Stand up and start to take deep breaths. Let your shoulders drop down from your ears and draw them back, plant your feet firmly on the ground, let the belly soften. Immediately you start to feel more confident.
  • Go back in time/go forward in time: Remember a time when you felt totally confident. Feel what it was like to be in your body. What were you thinking? What were you saying about yourself? You can use the same technique to imagine yourself being confident in a future event as well.
  • Find a role model: Find someone who is successful at what you want to get confident at. Analyse what it is they do or ask them what their strategy is. Get into what you can’t see – their mindset. What do they say to themselves when they do it? How do they prepare?
  • Challenge negative core beliefs: Beliefs are formed under the age of 7 and from then on you continue to look for evidence to prove they are true, even if they are long past their due date. Upgrade your operating system with more positive beliefs that you know to be true. Sometimes it takes telling that voice in your head to shut up to take control of your life.
  • Change your story: Our state – confident or otherwise – is governed by our story about a given situation. Choose a story that will put you in a positive state. For example, if you are freaking out about a talk you are doing, remind yourself that you have researched your audience and rehearsed your talk, you know your content etc.
  • Get out of your own way: If you don’t feel confident in yourself, be confident in your intention and direct yourself to what you can offer. When you forget yourself and think about others, its amazing how you can feel more confident.
  • Seek feedback from your support network: All adults need to learn to give themselves a pat on the back. But sometimes we are like puppy dogs wanting affection and we just need someone else to remind us how great we are. Know who your cheerleaders are and seek them out when you need a boost. Coaches and mentors are great to help put things in perspective if you’re giving yourself a hard time.

What strategies do you use to build your confidence? Comment below!

2 Comments

  1. Michelle Marie McGrath on 19/04/2015 at 1:18 am

    Some great practical tips here and love the Winston Churchill insights!

    • Louise Taylor on 20/04/2015 at 12:44 am

      I’m pleased you found it useful Michelle!

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