“I’d go to that networking event if I felt a little more confident.”
“I don’t feel confident enough to ask for a raise."
Confidence is a contradictory tight-rope that we all balance on. You might want to be more confident, but you also find overconfident people annoying. If you feel like you lack confidence, it can be a barrier that stops you doing and getting what you want
So can you become more confident, and how?
Firstly, what is confidence? The traditional dictionary definition is “a feeling of self-assurance arising from an appreciation of one's own abilities or qualities”. But sometimes doesn’t someone’s confidence seem like more than that? It can seem that a confident person’s total personality is composed, certain and capable. Whatever a confident person sets their mind to they can achieve, no wobbles or mistakes. But is your perception of confidence really correct?
What’s the real deal?
Confidence should not be mistaken for blind optimism. The phrase “move fast and break things” championed by the tech and startup world is not a mantra for confidence, it’s a description of arrogance. If you are working on a projects and you can foresee roadblocks ahead, moving forward boldly anyway and hoping for the best is not an example of confidence. True confidence comes from being realistic, knowing what you’re good at and demonstrating the value you add. You don’t need to be confident at everything, but you should be willing to try everything.
This doesn’t’ mean “fake it until you make it”. Although psyching yourself up and telling yourself that you’ve got this sometimes does work, it can also be stressful. Confidence is not a skill-set, it’s a state of being. So practice the things you are good at to remember the feeling of confidence, and practice the things you aren’t good at to be better and eventually feel a bit more confident.
The harsh truth is somethings you are good at, somethings you aren’t but it doesn’t mean you should stop trying the harder things. Being confident in your own abilities is the key, not comparing your abilities to others. You are who you are, so learn to celebrate and be confident in that!
Tip: start a project that you’ve been putting off.
It’s not just you
Fear of failure, fear of rejection, even the fear of success - we all have something holding us back and derailing our confidence. Remember, that we often speak to ourselves way harsher than we would speak to our friends so check in with yourself to acknowledge if your negative self-talk is impacting your confidence levels.
Maybe you’ll never feel truly confident, but that might be what the true human experience is all about. Challenging yourself to do something that scares you, that you don’t have all the tools to do but are just going to figure it out is not only a great learning experience, it’s also one of the best feelings of achievement.
It’s time we stop thinking of confidence as a cup that we need to fill, and that some people are born with their confidence cup overflowing. If you resist the temptation to compare yourself to others, you’re more likely to find the balance of confidence that is just right for you.
Do you agree? Or should we be trying to "fake it 'til we make it" with our confidence levels?