“We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face…we must do that which we think we cannot.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt, American Politician, Diplomat, Former First Lady of the United States
We have a natural sense of what confidence looks like in other leaders, and in ourselves.
When confidence is high, we look and feel more open. We don’t hold back when making tough calls. We get out in front, and lead.
One way to think about confidence is by imagining an edge. You want to take steps that move you closer to the edge – ready to take bold action when needed.
A common impediment to acting with confidence is negative self-talk, and difficult situations are often triggers. As an example, if you’re dreading a difficult feedback discussion, your self-talk might sound something like: “This is not going to go well. They don’t want to hear what I have to say. I don’t want to have this conversation.”
When your self-talk encourages you to pull back from a situation, here are a few actions you can take to move forward.
Challenge your thinking. Use logic as a starting point, and ask: Are these thoughts true? How do I know this?
Using the example above, you could challenge your thinking by asking: “How do I know this won’t go well? Am I sure they don’t want this feedback? Could this conversation become an opportunity for their development, and mine?”
Replace your negative thoughts. Instead of accepting the negative thoughts, actively replace them with more positive ones. Ask yourself: How can I be more open to this situation? What good can come from this?
In the example above, positive thoughts might include: “This conversation might go better than expected. The feedback could create a new opportunity for development. I’m going to stay open to having this conversation and what may come from it.”
Do a Reality Check. Negative self-talk tends to move quickly to worst-case scenarios, but few are based in reality. To alleviate these thoughts, ask: What’s the worst that could happen? If I act with confidence, what’s the best that could happen?
It can also be helpful to reflect on similar situations you’ve faced with confidence (and good outcomes!) in the past. What did you learn from your experience? What can you do differently this time?
Get closer to the edge to inspire greater confidence in yourself and others.
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