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Thought Leadership 22 February 2012

Confidence? Let me stop you there

Confidence - we all feel at times that we could do with more of it

And those of us who are of the extraverted fraternity and who have plenty of ‘it’ rarely give it a second thought...

Yet it’s an elusive feeling, and for all of us a feeling which can easily evaporate under the pressure spotlight as our less conscious capabilities begin to kick in.

The world has been watching Kim Jong Un recently – waiting to see how an in-experienced 28 year old takes control of North Korea and commands the fifth largest army in the world. No easy task for someone so young.  And even more daunting when the world is watching to see how he asserts himself over his 1.2 million strong army. This is of course an extreme example, but there are times when we’d all like to unlock the confident leader within ourselves.

How can we increase our self-confidence?

Something that will build our confidence in the long term is doing something that we might commonly shy away from, surprising ourselves with our abilities. But this is a paradoxical situation. If we avoid the things that we need to tackle to feel confident, how can we grow in confidence in order not to avoid them?

One way is to learn the strategies, approaches and behaviours of confident people and learn how to mentally prepare ourselves for new or frightening events. Once we do this, it’s like rolling a snowball down a hill. Things that previously generated a lack of confidence in us no longer do, and more and more we seem able to tackle bigger things, which of itself raises our confidence levels. This process creates a ‘virtuous’ circle.

STOP – change your thinking!

Irrespective of our Insights Discovery Type, the essence of self-confidence is having faith in our own abilities, come what may. Trusting that, whatever happens, we’ll deal with it. Fear may pull us to imagine what could happen when they go wrong leading to embarrassment, humiliation, or failing.

One of my favourite stories is about the professional speaker, F Matthias Alexander. He noticed that when he spoke, tension in his neck and back led to loss of his voice, altering his confidence.  He discovered a connected system of movement and use of the body now called The Alexander Technique.

One of the principles of the Alexander Technique is just to “Stop!” before executing any movement or action.  The pause inhibits the habitual, learned misuses of the physical body, and allows conscious control to re-educate good habit patterns.

Here’s how it works

The Law of Attraction reveals that whatever we dwell upon grows. If we control our negative thinking we help control the negative energies entering our lives. What thoughts are in your mind at the moment? Are they positive, or negative?

  1. Whenever you find yourself reflecting in a mire of negative thought, think, or better still, say out loud, 'STOP!', and switch your thinking to something positive.
  2. If, after a few seconds, the negative thoughts come back into your mind, again 'STOP!'  Banging our hands on a hard surface to emphasise our intent might seem a bit dramatic, but it all helps to re-centre our thoughts on positive applications.
  3. Keep 'STOP!' techniques going for as long as you need until thinking positively automatically becomes the primary path of your expectations.

Let your mind dwell on your goals and your dreams – on that which you desire rather than that which you fear.  Soon, these positive, constructive responses will become habit and will guide you towards your goal.

Self-confidence and leadership

Self-confidence is the fundamental basis from which leadership grows. Trying to teach leadership without first building confidence is like building a house on a foundation of sand. It may look pretty, but ultimately it is going to collapse or be flooded.  And self-confidence is a quiet internal energy, not to be confused with self- assertiveness which is the extraverted expression of self-confidence.

If you have self-confidence it allows you to make good, strong decisions. If someone is afraid to make and commit to decisions, all of the communication and empowerment in the world won't make a difference.  Those who inspire us are those who lead with self-confidence, the people who can make the difficult or awkward decisions and reassure people they are a strong and reliable person. So no matter how young or inexperienced you are (or how much the world is watching you) you can succeed if you have the power of confidence on your side.

Why not stop what you are doing right now and try this technique for yourself?  I’d love to know your thoughts.

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