Confidence

9 Self-worth refuelers you need to know

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Confidence is a one of the holy grails of leadership isn’t it?  We all want it, and we think everyone else has it.

When confidence fails us – when we undermine our own opinions or second guess our decisions, we sabotage our impact, particularly as leaders.

As an executive coach, I know that very few leaders have confidence, and certainly don’t have it all the time.  By the time you’ve become a C-Suite leader, you’ve largely grown used to controlling and mastering your confidence.

But B-Suite leaders – experienced, mid-level leaders – it’s a daily battle to sustain a consistent level of confidence when we are operating at such vast range, such high velocity and where we have such little information to go on.  Our confidence is a mercurial being at best, undermining us at inopportune moments and, only fleetingly, showing up as a powerful asset.

So what is confidence made of and how can we build our confidence to have it be a more consistent and valuable asset?

Confidence is made up of two key factors:

  • Our sense of capability – ‘I’m not good enough at it’
  • Our sense of worthiness – ‘I’m not good enough for it’

Self-worth comes out when we doubt our right to be at the table, compare ourselves to others, and listen to our inner voice a little too often.  Sometimes deep-rooted in self-esteem and sometimes simply being thrown off your stride, our sense of self-worth is the most precarious of the two confidence drivers and the hardest to control.

So what can we do to refuel our self-worth when it wobbles or dips?

  1. Tackle your inner voice, don’t ignore it

Listen to it objectively and make a physical note of what being said. Be specific. Write it down.  Evaluate it. If there is any merit, decide on a course of action. If there isn’t merit, actively move on from dwelling on non-specific self-negatives.

  1. Learn to be an optimist

Your brain is wired for negativity ‘like Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for positive ones’ (Hanson, n.d.). Rewire it by noticing your negativity, and search for a silver lining in the situation – even if it’s unintended, good things often come out of even the most difficult situations. How might you finish this sentence ‘The one good thing about all this is….’

  1. Don’t go a day without laughing

Laughter can temporarily block negative emotions, help you relax and recharge, and unite people during difficult times. Try these tips to increase your laughter quota. Get closer to those who are laughing (it’s contagious!), laugh at yourself, laugh at situations rather than bemoan them, and strive to recall, read and share funny stories that happen rather than negative ones.

  1. Offer your help

Helping others triggers the same centres in the brain as food and sex. It makes us feel good.

‘Help’ can be whatever you want it to be; I recommend something you enjoy doing, so it’s never a chore.

Offer it proactively; being asked to help doesn’t work on the endorphins in the same way. Ask for and accept help. Many people have a mental block about this, seeing it as a failure, weakness or sign of surrender.

Accepting help reinforces that it’s ok to not be in control, you’re not alone, and another perspective might be all you need. Try it.

  1. Develop a growth mindset

Even though playing to your strengths reinforces your self-esteem, don’t hide from your weaknesses, instead, seek to develop yourself in areas that matter to you.

  1. Take regular breaks

Overwork and exhaustion are the enemies of self-esteem. We get tired and emotional all too easily.

Breaks should include a range of things such as daydreaming for a few minutes, leaving your desk every 90 minutes, clearing the weekend of work and taking at least 10 days a year as holiday.

  1. Mindfulness

Some people are put off by prayer, meditation or yoga, but did you know mindfulness also includes doodling, puzzles or doing the dishes? These are all stress-busters that work because you are focusing hard on nothing, and that acts as a circuit breaker.

  1. Food and exercise

Being active boosts your feel-good endorphins and distracts you from daily worries, building your self-esteem. Eating well is the core to physical wellbeing. Start small; but just start.

  1. Sleep

A lack of sleep is a famously effective form of torture. Try to be disciplined around your sleep patterns, with regular sleep and wake times. Avoid late-night alcohol, caffeine, meals, electronic blue light and exercise. Set your room to cool or try a warm bath to drop your body temperature.

Francisco Dao said “trying to teach leadership without first building confidence is like building a house on a foundation of sand” – so work on your self-worth foundations and watch your leadership impact stabilise overnight.

About Rebecca Houghton

rebeccaho@thebusinesswomanmedia.com'

Rebecca Houghton, author of ‘Impact: 10 Ways to Level up your Leadership’ ($29.95), is a Leadership and Talent Expert and founder of BoldHR. Rebecca builds B-Suite leaders with C-Suite impact by working at an organisational, team and individual level. For more information about Rebecca can help your team visit www.boldhr.com.au

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