When I started my research for this post, I did a bit of googling (other search engines are available) to see what the thinking was on confidence strategies. I was overwhelmed with how much content there is on this subject. There were pages and pages of articles. Some good, some less so.
It made me pause for thought and ask myself…‘in a sea of content on the internet, what determines good and useful content, versus stuff I could get basically get from a fortune cookie?’. After much deliberation, I went back to my basic principles and my philosophies that good advice or good content comes from those who know. People with experience who can say hand on heart “I have used this strategy and I know it works”.
With that in mind and my desire to always provide the best advice I can (either from me, or others), I sought out confidence strategies from a number of smart, competent women I know. These are women with years of experience in their fields but all in different fields with different perspectives. Here’s what they have to say:
- Stop comparing yourself to others.
Sarah, a published writer, and successful journalist said the biggest thing she did was to stop comparing herself to others. Whilst I know this isn’t a particularly easy ‘hack’, it came up a few times from the women that I spoke to. Sarah confessed, “I used to read my articles and compare them to others. It made me doubt my ability. I questioned whether my opinion was worthy of my readers, whether what I had to say was interesting or informative enough. After doing it for many years, I realised that it just wasn’t helping me and that ignorance was bliss! I stopped comparing my work to others and just did what I knew best. It was completely freeing. I stopped trying to dumb down my opinions or imitate other writing styles. Because I allowed myself to be me, my writing improved and my fan base grew.”
Comparison is the thief of self-esteem. There are millions of people in this world so there will always be someone who is better at something than you, prettier than you, more glamorous than you, smarter than you…whatever it is. It’s a fact of life. Stop setting yourself up for a life of misery and give yourself a break. Do you and you alone and let everyone else do their thing. Once you make your life about you and being the best you can be, it becomes a lot easier.
- I imagine what the 10-year-old me would think of me.
I love this from Emma, an entrepreneur in the wellness space. “When I doubt myself, when I think that I am not building the business fast enough, or I am not making enough money or I don’t have enough clients, I think about what 10-year-old me would think of me if she saw me now. I think about how proud of me she would be and how proud she would be that I have accomplished as much as I have.”
When I thought about this one, I found this gave me perspective. At 10 years of age, I’m pretty sure my thinking centred around roller skates and ice-cream so I know I would be wide eyed and in awe of myself at what I had achieved in life. When we live life day by day, we rarely take time to reflect over the length of our existence on earth and recognise what we have achieved. Take time to think about what the 10-year-old you would think about you. Pause for a moment to reflect on how far you have come and what you have done. Marvel at it.
- What would Beyonce do?
“Whenever I walk into a meeting room with senior people or when I have to stand up in front of a large audience and do a townhall I always think of the quote from Beyonce Knowles that ‘power is not given to you. You have to take it.’” This was what Jo, a senior leader in the risk management space told me. “It gives me confidence to own my power but also to think about confident women and how they would approach the situation I am in. I often think ‘what would Beyonce do?’”.
Approaching situations through the eyes of a role model or someone you admire is a quick and easy way of building confidence in the moment. It enables you to step outside of yourself and adopt a different persona or avatar. Research also shows that simply by doing this alone, as you think about the person, your physical stature changes and you adopt a more confident stance. So, whenever you are walking into a situation you are nervous about and need a quick boost, think what would Beyonce do and go in there and strut your stuff.
- Know that no one else really cares.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think about you if you realised how seldom they do.” One of my ex-colleagues Julie told me this quote had kept her fears at bay when facing difficult situations. “The more experienced I get, the more I realise that it isn’t about me. When I started to realise I don’t feature in everyone’s mind as much as I thought I did I started to relax a lot more. I didn’t realise how egotistical I was in thinking that way…I laughed at the irony!”.
I spend a lot of time advising my clients not to care about what other people think as much as they do because in reality, people don’t think about us anywhere near as much as we think they do.
By nature, we are self-centred human beings. I don’t mean this in a negative way. It is in our wiring. We spend most of our time consumed with what’s happening for us or those closest to us. When you worry about what others think of you, remember that most of the time, they’re not. If you are sitting in a meeting or on a video call and you are fretting that other people think you are waffling or you aren’t speaking with enough authority or that everyone is looking at your frizzy hair or the pimple on your nose or whatever it is, remember that this is probably furthest from anyone else’s mind. They are probably thinking about their own day, their own issues, the last conversation they had or what they might have for breakfast/lunch/dinner. So don’t sweat it as much.
- Remember that everyone else is sh*t scared too.
When I worked at my last employers, one of the roles I undertook was working within the Group Chief Operating Office in the business management function. As part of my role, I got to work with some very senior individuals in the organisation who between them led a large part of the organisation. As part of the meetings that my boss ran with his leadership team, there were often sessions where everyone in the room was encouraged to be open and vulnerable. One such meeting centred on ‘all of the things we didn’t know’ in our roles. It was a sort of ‘no judgment’ confessional if you will. I can tell you I was gobsmacked at the honesty of my peers. They confessed to not knowing some pretty simple stuff (although I should point out that as a large corporation, the organisation had a habit of making simple things very complicated). What was even more interesting was they admitted they had hang ups about not knowing some of these things and they had their own fears of being called out on it. In the grand scheme of things, these were pretty minor things they were talking about but I really respected and admired how frank and open they were. It also made me feel a whole lot better that I wasn’t alone in the wealth of stuff I didn’t know and my insecurities about it.
Izzie, a well-respected NHS nurse echoed this sentiment. “As I continue to work in this business, I realise that there are a lot of capable but actually pretty scared individuals out there who are just doing the best they can on a day-to-day basis. A number of my colleagues have admitted they lack confidence, don’t have the answers a lot of the time and quite often feel overwhelmed with what they have to do. It makes me realise that it’s not just me, that a lot of others feel the same way and that we are all just muddling along. I feel better that I am not alone and it strengthens my resolve to do the best that I can for me but also for them.”
So, remember that when you worry that others are superhuman and you are out on a limb with your own insecurities and fears, remember other people are human, they do human things too and they all have their crosses to bear.
Whatever strategies you decide to use, always remember that you are a strong independent woman who has gotten this far in life already. You’ve got this.