“I wished I had greater self-confidence.” In hundreds of my coaching conversations, no single topic has come up more often.
Work has a way of making all of us feel insecure at various times. Just about the time we get comfortable, some kind of change occurs leaving us feeling much les confident in ourselves, and in our ability to succeed.
Those new to the workforce certainly feel it. Following a promotion, lack of self-confidence in a new role often sets in big time. If you change teams or take a new job either inside or outside your current company, your confidence once again may drop. Recently I talked with a very talented woman who was just promoted to Senior VP in her company. When I asked her how she felt about all this change she said, “I’m scared out of my mind.” New role, new set of expectations, new people on her team, new boss, more eyes on her – all this added up to wanting to crawl under the covers and hide out. But, obviously she can’t do that. And neither can the rest of us when these feelings overtake – and sometimes overwhelm – us.
Three Vital Tips
- Always remember, such feelings are very normal. Even positive changes we want, like a promotion or new job, naturally come with a different set of challenges. So feeling off-balance is not surprising, nor does it mean anything about your ability to succeed. It would be unusual if you didn’t have butterflies with a new change in life or work.
- Use your imagination. I often ask people this question: “Let’s suppose that you already had high self-confidence. What would you be doing differently that you are not doing now?” Usually, people come up with a pretty good list of what they would actually do if they already had high self-confidence. Once I got that list from the newly-promoted Senior VP, I said, “Now, let’s talk about how you can begin doing some of those same things right now.” She told me what she would do if her confidence was higher. My invitation was to do some of those very things now. By so doing, her confidence will grow.
- Keep this key insight in mind. It’s much easier to act your way to a feeling, than to feel your way to an action. Thus, in order to feel more confident, we must do things that build confidence. The feelings follow the actions we take. Sometimes we think, “When I feel more confident, then I’ll apply for that new job.” That’s not how it works and most of us, if we are honest with ourselves, know that. Waiting for a miracle dose of self-confidence before taking action can be a career killer. So, we build it first and then it will come.