Clear Confident Leader Weekly Observer, Issue #16
From the Greenbelt of Boise, Idaho, First snowfall
Confidence determines whether our steps – individually or collectively – are tiny and tentative or big and bold.
– Rosabeth Moss Kanter
Confidence is more important than ability when it comes to getting ahead.
– Katty Kay & Claire Shipman
Confidence arises within us as a feeling of self-assurance that we can effectively deal with the situations we face. Like a lighthouse, it can shine forth helping us navigate through challenging situations and circumstances with presence and resilience. And, when our confidence is low we tend to hold back, resorting to inaction as if we can’t see through the fog enveloping us.
Our level of confidence is transmitted to those around us in verbal and non-verbal ways impacting the actions of our families, groups, teams, organizations, communities and societies. Confidence determines the steps we take, individually and collectively.
Learning to self-generate confidence in ourselves, is a crucial skill to lead our way through the complex, ambiguous, uncertain and volatile situations we experience in life. Confidence is a unique combination of
- Internal sensations in our body (e.g. open fluidity, contracted tightness, etc.),
- feelings of self-assurance based on experiencing our own abilities or qualities,
- a belief in our ability to act effectively, and
- an assessment of positive expectations for a favorable outcome.
For example, a common challenge is believing that we need to "Be Right or Perfect" at whatever we do. Another is seeing each step we take as "Being either a Success or Failure". In both situations it can be easy to focus on fears of what happened the last time we “were wrong, imperfect or failed”, or the anxiety induced worries of what could go wrong in the future. The narrative or story that builds in our mind about these leads to our contracting our body to hold us back or away from what we don’t want to experience.
How do we catch ourselves when we’re in a downward spiral in confidence, and begin to self-generate the upward spiral?
I find the following eight steps helpful when I’m unsure:
- Notice what I’m focusing on – purposeful action to achieve an outcome I care about, or avoiding something that triggers fear or anxiety in me.
- Grounding myself, by focusing on my breathing, taking several slow deep breaths from my diaphragm to activate my parasympathetic nervous system, calming my whole body down.
- Naming and acknowledging what I’m fearful or anxious about.
- Clarifying what I care about achieving, and clearly stating my intentions.
- Identifying safe to experiment steps I’m willing to take to learn and grow.
- Experimenting and learning what works and what doesn’t work.
- Celebrating what I’ve learned, and the progress I’ve made.
- Refining what will be most helpful to do next.
I offer Generative Leadership Coaching to assist executives and professionals in learning to self-generate Clarity and Confidence for themselves. To learn more, visit here.
Let’s create a better future today!