One of recent birthday cards from my dear colleagues read “We are happy to have such a confident colleague!”. I am thankful they let me see the way they see me. Especially, after a year of self-doubts, lows and struggles.
Some think confidence is built-in, genetic. Some think it’s about habits and choice. Might be both.
What I do is no rocket science, just a few tricks: A. I know that fear and doubt are good signs. They save me from complacency and push my boundaries. I know I made it last time and there is no reason I cannot do better.
B. I say a polite “No, thank you” to my comfort zone. I have a public speech anxiety? I’ll ask my manager to book 15 min in our next meeting for an intervention. Once on the agenda, noblesse oblige.
C. I breath. I listen to my body. To its signs. I feel my heart racing? Good. My brain and body get more oxygen.
D. I move. I am relentless. I get things done. Procrastination? Fine, allowed sometimes. Bothering? Get off my *… and do something. Bake. Prepare home-made chocolate. Water my plants. Go to colleagues and ask if they need help.
E. I have fun. Once I drew a funny face carrot on a flip chart in a difficult Carrots-and-Sticks policy dialogue.
F. Some say confident people don’t care about what others think. I do. As long as I can learn something from it. Confidence in others strengthens my confidence.
One time, I had to share the feedback from an important partner with a consultant. It was very good to excellent but he did not know it. I handed it over in a sealed envelope with a grave face. “Is it bad?” He asked. “Yes, it is”, I answered and watched him turning red as he took off the papers. One minute later: “I knew you are bad. But you are very bad!” And we laughed. I took his point. Confidence does not need to be associated with bad.
G. I am staying on a judgement-free territory. Judging and gossiping are a waste of time and energy. I give everyone the benefit of the doubt, even if this was a hiring mistake.
H. I am resourceful. I know I do not have all the answers, but I have ideas where to look for solutions, whom to ask. I learned this from my first Human Rights professors. “A good lawyer does not need to know the law by heart. Knowing where to find answers makes a good lawyer”. I practice the same with people I work with. There are clear “Who’s monkey is this?” rules and I always ask if problems people face come with solutions and options to consider together.
I. Comparison is the thief of joy. I admit to the sin of comparison only with better and seek inspiration from most unexpected sources and people.
J. I build a network of friends and supporters. Sorry, negative perspectives and people with tendency to drag back are not part of it. I also know I cannot please everyone in life.
K. I keep trying. A failure? Good. Learned something. A mistake? Is it an interesting mistake? Oh yes, come in, and teach me. I am ready to try again.
Thank you Alden Tan for inspiration. http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/11-things/
A good quote to reflect on: “Confidence comes from knowing what is true, even if it’s not what you were taught should be true.” (sex educator Emily Nagoski).