‘How long will you put off what you are capable of doing, just to continue what you are comfortable doing?’ – James Clear
Confidence is the inner state that ensures you have the capacity to navigate the inevitable challenges and ups and downs of life. It is not a ‘nice to have’; it is critical for career success. In the Core Confidence book, we outline the traits that we hear women talk about when describing an absence of confidence; notably, feeling scared to speak up, unable to ask for help, the looming fear of failure and embarrassment, second-guessing themselves and far too much self-doubt. When you lack confidence, you tend to over-rely on knowledge (subject matter expertise), skills and experience to fill this confidence gap. But the reality is, that although knowing your stuff is important, it is not a dependable source of confidence. The problem is that confidence is something that you experience from within – when you look for external validation or rely on knowledge to ‘prove’ yourself, it actually undermines your confidence.
Our work in the Acts of Confidence Program, is focused on resourcing women to own their value, to speak up and contribute, to self advocate, to be visible and to do this in a way that feels authentic and congruent to them. We are passionate about this because when women don’t know how to speak up and share their value, they miss out on so many opportunities and remain invisible.
What gets in the way of having a confidence mindset?
The big barrier to accessing your inner resource of Core Confidence is the self-talk, the inner critic and worrying about what other people will think.
We hear this way too often. Many women say this and it leads to staying too long in roles they’ve outgrown. We know that when you don’t have the confidence to participate and fully contribute you are often miscalculating your own capabilities – typically, overestimating what is required of you and underestimating your value and skill set. This debilitating self-doubt and worry that we don’t have what it takes for that role or opportunity, keeps us in our comfort zones and holds us back from taking action and making progress!
So, what started as a confidence gap – stemming from perfectionism, fear of failure or a loud inner critic – becomes a capability gap.
The compounding effect – how your confidence gap becomes a capability gap.
When you start to notice where you are waiting ‘to be ready’ or procrastinating, you begin to understand the potential cost of this inaction. Start by looking at the long-term impact of these behaviours. You may find the stories you tell yourself are holding you back from new opportunities and possibilities. We call this the compounding effect. That action you didn’t feel ready to take in the past, now limits what is possible for you in the current moment.
We know that every time you do not act, there is a consequence to that. When you hold back, decision-makers don’t know and can’t see your skills, capability and expertise; you are essentially invisible. There is a huge and compounding impact of the confidence gap – especially when you look around and see that other people are willing to step into their discomfort and speak up. And the result is – they are visible, which means they’re the ones more likely to secure a position on a new project, receive that promotion or pay rise instead of you … even if your skills, capability and experience is greater than theirs!
Bridging the gap.
To overcome and bridge this gap, you have to be willing to put yourself out there – even when you aren’t 100% certain – as we often say – The act of confidence comes before the feeling of confidence.
Get curious and ask yourself, what is really going on? The more you get conscious of what’s going on, you can question your assumptions and fears and start to take small acts of confidence. When you start to unpack the old stories you tell yourself about not being ready, about not having the necessary skills, you’ll begin to recognise that more qualifications or courses don’t necessarily equate to having more confidence in the moment. The thing is nothing external will remove the uncertainty and discomfort that’s holding you back. This misconception costs women so much time and energy – and all the while you’re not progressing.
When you redefine your relationship with fear and failure (link) and start to right-size the stories you tell yourself, you are equipped to step up and own your value which will bridge your confidence (& capability) gap. The more you’re able to truthfully assess what you have to offer, the more likely you are to take action, or as we like to call it, a small Act of Confidence: taking manageable steps towards your goals, receiving feedback, learning, and trying again! Even if you aren’t 100% ready, that’s OK – you want to be stepping into positions and roles that require learning and fostering challenges.
Cultivating a confidence mindset.
Now, don’t misunderstand our message; yes, we always want you to be building skill, capability and experience. Acquiring new knowledge and learning frameworks is very useful and supportive of your career journey. But, there is another piece here. Marrying your skills, capability and experience with a confidence mindset is the real, golden opportunity. This is where you start leveraging and implementing your knowledge and stepping into your personal power!
Why build a confidence mindset?
Building a confidence mindset is key to helping you navigate the world and your experience within it. It is a gateway to broaden your perspectives, move beyond your comfort zone and create opportunities that allow you to thrive.
Having a confidence mindset means:
- Having the courage to say yes to new experiences
- Speaking up when you’d ordinarily would stay quiet
- Being more visible to a broader group of stakeholders
A confidence mindset creates greater resilience and the knowledge that you can deal with whatever comes your way.
How do I build a confidence mindset?
Building a confidence mindset and bridging the capability gap work hand-in-hand! Start by spotlighting the roadblocks and red flags that are getting in your way to developing 100% unshakeable, unbreakable confidence. To unlock the benefits and opportunities that come along with skill acquisition, you need to leverage the right resources and begin to reframe your mindset!
Once you identify the barriers in your way, you can begin redefining your relationship with failure. When you right-size your fears, you can resource yourself to step into discomfort in a way that feels doable and practical – a small Act of Confidence.
Communicate your value and position yourself for new opportunities!
This will be one of your most valuable assets going forward; the ability to maintain your self confidence no matter what is going on around you, is something that keeps expanding with practice. It doesn’t mean a complete absence of self-doubt or fear – rather you have excellent resources and strategies for how to deal with them as they arise. The more you practice the easier it gets. What we see regularly is the self assurance and authentic power that is available once you know how to access and maintain your confidence mindset.
‘All the possibilities open up when you stop being so harsh in your judgement and assessment of yourself’ – Fiona Pearman