This week I hosted my free masterclass, The Executive Promotion Strategy, for the second time.
As part of the sign up process I ask: what is your biggest career challenge?
The most common answer among the 800+ high achievers who signed up is... confidence.
Yep. Not skills, not experience, not even circumstances.
Confidence, or lack of confidence, is what stops most people from building the career of their dreams.
The good news is that confidence is not something you are born with. Confidence is not a trait, it’s a skill. And just like writing, speaking or negotiating, you can develop confidence.
5 principles to build your confidence muscle:
1. Start small
It’s much easier to take small steps than to dive all in. As you are building your confidence muscle you will get more and more comfortable stepping out of your comfort zone, but as a first step, focus on a small goal.
First, choose one thing to work on. You don’t want to try and tackle too many things at once. Second, choose the least scary goal you can think of. If asking for a promotion terrifies you, don’t make it your first attempt. Choose a less scary task like asking your manager for a day off.
And lastly, choose a goal you can achieve in a short amount of time. If you see results quickly you’ll be motivated to keep taking action.
2. Practice often
When we are scared or insecure we tend to avoid the things that scare us. But to build your confidence muscle you need to face them head on. Just like you can’t get a six pack by going to the gym once, you won’t build confidence by stepping out of your comfort zone once. You need to do it often to build a habit.
You can do that by deliberately put yourself outside of your comfort zone:
Say yes when you want to say no
Ask for opportunities to do things that scare you
Take calculated risks that align with your skills
Challenge yourself to practice every week!
3. Practice in a safe space
Confidence is situational. You can be confident in one area of your life but not in another. You can use that to your advantage to practice in an environment where you feel the risk is low, and build up the confidence before you go all in.
Outside of work
With colleagues/peers you trust
When the stakes are low (you have nothing to lose)
The more you practice, the more competent you'll feel, and the more confident you'll feel.
4. Always be prepared
A great way to build your confidence muscle is to be prepared. Preparation allows you to reduce anxiety and fear by removing ambiguity and giving you a sense of control.
For example: before a big meeting take a few minutes to write down your main points, so if you are called on, you know exactly what to say.
5. Reward yourself for the effort, regardless of the result
Building your success muscle will take time. You’ll need to do it again and again to form a habit and get comfortable with stepping outside of your comfort zone.
To motivate yourself to keep going you need to remind yourself that your main goal is to take action. No matter what the outcome is, if you take action and put yourself out there, you should celebrate.
Reward yourself for trying to develop the habit of stepping outside of your comfort zone to motivate yourself.
Put in the reps and grow confident
Now that you know that confidence is a skill that can be developed, it's time to take action. Start small, practice often, practice in a safe space, always be prepared, and reward yourself for the effort. Remember that building your confidence muscle takes time and effort, but it's worth it.
Don't let lack of confidence hold you back from achieving the career of your dreams. Take the first step today and keep pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. With each small win, you'll gain more and more confidence, and soon you'll be amazed at what you can achieve
I believe in you and I’m rooting for you.