Welcome friends to Episode #156 of the Own Your Best Life Podcast. Confidence is an elusive term. We think it’s something we’re either born with or given in spades, yet if this was the case we might as well give up on doing anything new or different. We also know that if we felt more confident, we’d likely be able to have the life we want sooner. It’s worthwhile for us to be able to create and build confidence at work. Let’s spend some time today debunking confidence and reviewing what it actually means to be confident in work and life.
The other day I was talking to a client about feeling more confident at work. They knew they had created some amazing work opportunities in roles and organizations that previously seemed out of reach. Yet, there was still the idea of feeling self-doubt or concern about that next role or next leg of their journey. Would self-doubt return? Would that inner critic start talking so loudly again that they would feel miserable at work?
It’s so interesting to see that no matter how much we get or opportunities we are given, we still don’t assume confidence. We still question, wonder and work as if we aren’t confident enough and need even more confidence.
I’m going to tell you why you need to forget this feeling of innate confidence and assume that it’s never going to matter as much as your ability to figure things out and find confidence. What confidence actually means is that you trust your abilities. It doesn’t mean that you have nothing to worry about. It doesn’t mean that you never make mistakes. It doesn’t mean that you should have answered every question before it was asked. It means that you are determined and resourceful.
How to appear confident even if you don’t feel confident
I have been called confident in my life more than once, but I remember being surprised the first time someone said, “well you’re obviously confident”. That was the first big aha moment. I realized that people don’t see all the questions you have in your head. They notice your tone, your stance, your unwavering gaze and how you show up energetically. I knew beneath the appearance of confidence was a real human who cares about what others think and wants to do the right thing. I’m not always confident that everything I do or say is the truth or that it will even work the way I expect.
Yet, you don’t have to be confident to appear confident and find confidence. What you can do is be confident in your willingness. You’re willing to grow and learn. Be confident in that willingness to have an open mind. You’re willing to be wrong even if you don’t want to be. Be confident in that willingness to try knowing you are working towards a solution. You’re willing to do something because you think it will help. Be confident in your desire to help.
Our body communicates so much more than we realize, so check your body language and your tone. Stand up straight, sit or stand with an open stance. Look people in the eye. These all build trust and are easy to do in any situation. You’ll notice a shift in your own biology once you stand as if you were confident – cortisol starts to lower, breathing slows and your ability to think and solve problems increases.
It sounds counterintuitive, but standing, walking and talking as if you’re confident will lead to more confidence.
Practice using your voice
Confidence is also born from the ability to take action without knowing for sure if things will work out. To speak up even if you’re not sure if you’re right. You’re doing it all the time. Every single day of your life, you are confidently talking about things you know nothing about. People ask you questions and you have to have an answer.
Confidence isn’t pretending you’re infallible and not wrong. It’s knowing that it is valuable for you to share your thoughts and opinions with others. It’s knowing that people are relying on you because you have something to offer the conversation. When you want to speak up and worry about what others think or will say, this isn’t confidence – it’s just a lack of practice. Practice the art of saying what you do know and being honest about what you don’t know and you’ll find yourself naturally becoming more confident. It’s less work when you know what you can control versus trying to control everything around you.
An important point to be made is that confidence is not perfection. One of the things that is a given in our life is that we will be fallible which means that we will make mistakes. If you know that ahead of time, it’s as if you’ve figured out that confidence is not believing in perfection but believing that there are improvements to be made that have to be seen. You’re confident in the imperfection. Own it instead of trying to be confident in perfection. Practice imperfect progress and getting used to hearing the sound of your voice until you see that even when you don’t know it all, you’re worthy of saying what you do know.
For the next meeting or event that you feel a bit nervous about, check in on these things: your body language and speaking up to practice. There’s no need to overthink confidence and have a drawn-out build up to becoming confident. You can decide today that in this moment, you’ve figured out that you never needed confidence at work, you needed to be willing to use your body as if you were confident and to practice listening and using the power of your voice.
If you like this blend of both practicality and mindset, you will love coaching. You can schedule a consultation at www.mayempson.com/contact to learn more about working together and joining this community of like-minded, open and curious seekers. It is the powerful group and private coaching hybrid experience for achievers who want to expand their vision of what’s possible. 12 months of support, individualized guidance, community and retreats. We will help you build your confidence, trust your intuition and make decisions that you love.
I’ve also just created a free masterclass for you. If you’re ready to figure out what’s next, you’ll want to sign up for the replay of my most recent masterclass, “Figuring out What’s Next.” Go to the link here in the shownotes to sign up and learn the 3 phases of where you’re at in your career/life crossroads and what to do in each phase.
That’s it for this week. Have an amazing one and I’ll talk to you next time.