Confidence and Self-Doubt

I love the topic of confidence. All too often I coach leaders who should have great confidence, but tend to have a large measure of self doubt. What I have found, is that the self-doubt is normal and most, if not all, have some varying level. Yet, so many seem to have an overabundance of self confidence.

It is always fascinating to watch a group of individuals who are preparing for a very important interview. Most if not all are looking down at their phone curled up with their shoulders bent over. When we curl up and look down we put ourselves into an introspective and protective stance. This introspective stands causes a person to lack confidence.

The opposite of the introspective protective stance, is one that is tall in stature, bold, and confident. Take for instance the winner of a foot race. The most common body language when someone crosses the line after a long and arduous race, is to raise ones hands in a victory stance. When people that are blind run the same race, they tend to have the same victory salute after they cross the finish line. How is it that someone that is blind can have the exact same stance as someone that is seeing? The blind have never seen someone run across the finish line with her hands held up high. The reason is because we are biological beings.

The endorphin rush that one feels when they cross the finish line causes us to almost involuntarily raise our arms in excitement and accomplishment. This biological fact is due to the release of chemicals in our brain and throughout our body. The rush of endorphins causes a high to occur in our bodies.

We can simulate the same chemical release by how we posture ourselves. In moments of high intensity and stress, and when the stakes are high, if we will assume the position of a superhero we will find that we will gain confidence. Imagine, if you will, Superman or Wonder Woman as they stand triumphantly preparing for battle. Your chin is held up high and your arms are confidently at your waist. Our voices create almost a bravado of confidence that is unmistakable. Their feet are firmly placed on the ground just a bit wider than shoulder length apart. The hips are straight in the back erect.

Imagine how you feel as you stand confidently like a hero compared to an individual who is slouching over their mobile device. The confidence is unmistakable.

 

Prior to going into your next interview or highly important meeting, I suggest that you take a few moments to stand erect and practice the superhero stance. As you do so you will have an increase of endorphins and an increase of confidence. You may look silly doing this in the middle of the waiting room, so I would suggest finding a more private and safe place to practice your hero stance.

A great deal of our success revolves around your personal belief in your ability to succeed. When you look at the situation and cognitively tell yourself that you will not be able to accomplish it, or that it will be difficult, you will prophesy your own outcome. It is important to practice telling yourself mindfully that you have the ability and confidence to succeed.

Another strategy to increase confidence is to recall times that you have been successful. Look for times in your life that you have overcome a difficult task or obstacle. As you reflect upon the event think of the distinct actions that you took that caused you to be successful. As you recall your specific actions you will recognize your own ability to be successful. Many studies have shown that recalling difficult events and the skills that you employed to overcome the obstacle increases confidence. In fact, your brain has a hard time differentiating between the current reality and a remembered event.

Other studies have a shown that employees and leaders who have higher efficacy and confidence also have higher performance. There is a negative side to confidence, and that is what is called overconfidence. The overconfident syndrome happens when someone receives too much unrealistic and unfounded positive feedback. This seems to be the case with much of our rising generation. They have been taught that they are incapable of making mistakes and that everyone is a winner. Thankfully the research has shown that the overconfident syndrome of today’s society has a long way to go until oversaturation. Thus, the likelihood of overconfidence having a negative impact on organizational performance is very low.

 


 

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