2018: the Year of Self-Confidence

In a recent survey by the Institute of Leadership and Management, 40 percent of respondents reported that they lacked self-confidence. How you feel about your performance at work and about your competence relates to how well and how quickly you can do your job. It even affects how you interact with your coworkers and boss.

If you lack confidence, you’re less likely to take on new challenges or risks at work, and you’re generally less productive because you’re always second-guessing your work (No, an email probably doesn’t need five drafts.) You also probably don’t contribute much to team environments if you’re afraid to share your ideas.

Does this describe you? No? Great! But do check yourself in the mirror and make sure you don’t have too much self-confidence. I’m looking at you, Axe Body Spray.

If it does describe you, know that even successful people doubt themselves from time to time, especially in the face of doubters. Maybe you’re happy to ride the bench and let others make the big impact. But what if they’re missing out on something unique that you contribute? It can be a life-or-death situation--literally.

Unless you're attracted to bacteria as much as Chip and Joanna Gaines are attracted to shiplap, chances the milk you drink is pasteurized. The term comes from Louis Pasteur, who invented the process to eliminate bacteria from milk through a heating process in the nineteenth century. Pasteur is considered the forerunner of immunology and preventative medicine, and over his career, he earned numerous awards. Yet even though his discoveries were critical to saving lives, he was initially rejected by the medical community because he was a scientist, not a physician.

Luckily for mankind, Pasteur was so sure about his germ theory that he pressed on, discovering a cure for rabies and anthrax, even though some microbes were so small he couldn’t see them with his microscope. His discoveries and his application of them have saved millions of lives since.

Rejected by his peers and dubbed an average student while in secondary school, Louis Pasteur is now a household name. Will you let the doubts of others or your own doubts about your work stop you from the work you were meant to do? I hope not. Instead, consider these ways to elevate your own self-confidence.

Eleven Ways to Elevate Self-Confidence

 Shut down the nuclear reactor. Self-confidence can plummet when we “go nuclear” with our fears and doubts and overreact to the actions of our boss and peers.

Mind the inner-monologue. Our internal dialogue can either help or hurt us—don’t let yours spiral downward. Recognize when this is happening and call it to a halt.

Go for authenticity, not approval. When we seek approval we’re seeking external validation, which is an empty victory at best, and elusive and confidence eroding at worst. Fall in love with your internal qualities, not external accomplishments.

Be prepared. Leave it all on the field. Preparation breeds poise.  And confidence.

Know that in the absence of confidence, courage takes over. Quiet the voice that says “I can’t” with deeds that say “I did.”

Self acceptance + self-responsibility = self-confidence. You simply must accept your imperfections and take responsibility for your actions.

There are always drops; it’s how you pick up. Human nature dictates the occasional crisis of confidence—for everyone.  So know it when you’re in it. Know that we’ve all been there.

 Don’t validate parking. Playing it safe all the time (parking) and not venturing out to try new things can you give the most temporary and false kind of confidence—one born out of avoiding failure.

Stop undermining yourself. Self-deprecation is one thing, self-defamation is another. Don’t lower others’ expectations of you by doing it for them.

Create a safety zone. If you’re a manager, foster it; if you’re an employee, ask for it. Make it safe to speak up, make it easy to ask for help, and make it comfortable to say “no.”

Respect, trust, empower, and praise. Believe this as a boss, expect this as an employee. Treat respect and trust as non-negotiables.