The foundation of any type of career coaching is helping you to build confidence in who you are in a professional space. Confidence – that quiet knowing and sense of trust that you have in you and what you’re capable of – is what will enable you to take risks, explore options, ask for what you’re worth and take the big leaps of faith. Resilience and confidence go hand in hand because it’s resilience that gives you the momentum not to give up when things are hard, to flourish when things are good – and also to start breaking through what limits our confidence, whether that’s imposter syndrome or social conditioning. As a resilience coach I’ve helped a lot of clients with career coaching, building a strong foundation of self-belief as well as using it to define purpose and establish a clear and practical plan for what needs to happen next. So, here are my tips for being more confident at work.
1. It’s the doing that creates the confidence, not the other way around
If you decide that you want to do something with your career then there is a part of you that already knows you’re capable of it. Otherwise you wouldn’t be thinking about it. So, if you’re waiting to do something until you feel confident enough to do it, don’t – start right now instead. It’s the doing that creates the confidence, not the other way round.
2. Adopt a growth, rather than a fixed, mindset
The fixed mindset says “I’m either good at something or I’m not. If I fail then that’s the end of the line.” A growth mindset says “challenges and risks are exciting and failure is an opportunity to learn. I can always improve and try again.” The growth mindset isn’t about being naively optimistic or bathing in toxic positivity. It’s a more flexible approach to events that means you’re not telling yourself a story of shame and failure that keeps you stuck and destroys confidence. Instead, you’ll be more alert to, and ready for, opportunities even if they don’t look like you thought they would. Want to try this? Make a list of your biggest failures – then identify the opportunities each one brought you. Also, get used to using the word yet – “I haven’t done it – yet.”
3. Stop and make a plan
The root of confidence is trust in yourself and part of building trust is having clarity. There are many different levels to this, from a simple set of goals and milestones for your career over the next six months to fully investigating your values, purpose and the right path for you. This is one of the many ways that career coaching and resilience coaching heavily overlap, as clarity and self-awareness are part of the resilience coaching process. Resilient people know who they are and where they’re going, in life and in work.
4. Throw away your work persona
If you’re someone who has a different persona for work and home then this could be seriously undermining your professional confidence. Somewhere along the line we’ve been led to believe that being fully ourselves at work is a dangerous thing. However, the reality is that even if you think you’re showing up as emotionless, enthusiastic, serious and ‘profesional’ you’re actually minimising your ability to progress and engage others. People always know when you’re hiding a part of yourself. And we connect through vulnerability. So, no matter what the environment, you will always win if you’re authentically you. I have coached so many leaders, for example, who thought they had to be flawless disciplinarians and without emotion to successfully lead – but when they shifted to being simply human and focusing on building genuine relationships suddenly they became the inspirational figures they had always wanted to be. You are your greatest asset in a work context and if you’re hiding any part then you’re not optimising all that professional potential.
5. Be honest about where you’re undermining your own confidence
Like resilience, confidence is a daily practice that is the result of our mindset and habits. So, take a look at your mindset and get really brutally honest about where you’re making it hard to be confident. Maybe you have a core belief about not being worthy of success so you self-sabotage promotion opportunities – coaching can help uproot that core belief. Perhaps you constantly ignore the nudge to do the work you really want to do because it’s not for “someone like me.” Or you’ve never tackled your inner critic and its messages of not being credible or capable, especially if you’re coming back from maternity leave or reaching for a promotion. You could be undermining your confidence on a practical level – always being 10 mins late for meetings, never preparing, refusing to delegate. What would change if you stopped doing this to yourself?
6. Establish some non-negotiable habits
As mentioned, confidence is not a personality trait but the result of your daily habits. So, establish some non-negotiables for every day that you know will support confidence. Perhaps that’s speaking to at least one person not on your team every day if social anxiety is a problem. Maybe it’s reviewing how you eat, sleep and exercise so you feel physically better at work. Or it could be the ‘5 second rule’ to overcome procrastination and enable you to stop waiting for the perfect time (every time you think of something you need to do, you start taking action within 5 seconds).
7. Take the death bed test
It sounds morbid but it can sometimes be really useful to fast forward to an imagined moment in the future when this wonderful life as we know it is about to come to an end. There are two purposes to this when it comes to career coaching and confidence:
- What are you going to regret not having done with your professional life at that point in time? The big things that jump out when you think about that deserve some real effort to make them happen now. And..
- What is likely to be long forgotten? Sometimes we get stuck in ruminating about situations that we won’t even remember a year from now, let alone, on our deathbeds. So this can be a useful way to stop wasting that energy and focus it on something that is important.
Confidence doesn’t come naturally to any of us – it’s learned. So, if you don’t feel very confident at work right now there is plenty that you can do about it. Start by looking at the ways that you’re making it hard to be confident at work and how small changes to your daily experience could help.
I offer a one off Ignite resilience coaching session (90 mins) that is ideal for career coaching where you have a specific issue to power through or you’re keen to make a clear, practical plan. Regular 1:1 resilience coaching will also support you throughout your career, from challenging transitions to ensuring that you really are on the right path and taking all the opportunities available to you.