I was recently talking to a very senior woman in a large company who asked me, when will she stop doubting herself and have confidence in both themselves and their capability? At this point I would like to contextualise this conversation and say that they are highly respected within their organisation and industry, and externally you would never expect to hear such a statement or question from her.
There is a perception that part of what defines success (apart from achieving goals and financial gain) is the feeling of confidence. Success is sometimes portrayed by jumping up in the air, air punching, straight backs and a confident stance. I know that this is a HUGE generalisation but to some extent it is true.
After reflecting upon the conversation, I wanted to share a few thoughts with you about it.
1. In business you are in a constant state of change, flux and growth. This results in being out of your comfort zone, pushing yourself to do things differently and risk. None of these scenarios is a place of knowing, quite the opposite. When defining confidence, it is the knowing that we can do something after we have repeatedly done something. For example, public speaking. The more you do it, the more comfortable you get because you have proved to yourself that you can do it and subsequent confidence grows over time. However, the reality is we need to accept and welcome this feeling of the lack of confidence in our world if we are to be true explorers.
2. Self-belief. But all is not lost…at the core of our being we must nurture self-belief as this will be the engine that fuels us through all the changes, risk and beyond.
“If you don’t believe in yourself, who will?”
This is something I often refer to in my talks, as opposed to “fake it till you make it”. Self-belief is essential, as it will sustain you through all the ups and downs of your career journey (and life journey for that matter). Self-belief is the quiet voice that says to you as you go to pitch your idea to your boss, raise your hand for a promotion, make a presentation that you can do this. You may not have done it before but it doesn’t mean that you are not able. None of these situations require confidence, they require your self-belief.
3. Impostor syndrome. This is a big one. Some of the most successful people suffer from this – the fear that they are not good enough or a fake, with thoughts like “when will they find out that I am not as good as they think I am”. Like all fears, they are false evidence that appears as real.
It is a fear that must be overcome but the reality is there are bucket loads of CEOs, high level executives and wildly successful people that suffer from impostor syndrome.
My overall reflection is that all these 3 areas that I have shared with you are internal. It is our mindset, our thought processes; it is what we tell ourselves, our values and beliefs. And despite lacking confidence I will say that most successful people do not walk around confident all the time, as based on the general perception. We need to look inwards to our self-belief. To believe we are worthy of success and rid ourselves of the impostor syndrome. And continue step by step, day by day walking in the directions of our goals and dreams for ourselves.