WORK-LIFE BALANCE / JAN. 30, 2015
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5 Habits That Will Boost Your Confidence

As Marcus Garvey once remarked, “With confidence, you have won before you have started.”  After all, if you don’t believe in you, why should anyone else? Confidence is a valuable trait, both at work and outside of it. Studies have shown that people choose confidence over seemingly more desirable traits. It’s a powerful leadership tool, an enabler of things, a catalyst for change.

So how can you develop this prized attribute? Here are five, research-backed approaches to building confidence.

#1 Surround Yourself With People Who Believe in You and Your Ideas

If the people, you hang out with, believe you are smart, intelligent and creative, they will treat you as though you are smart, intelligent and creative. In other words, their perception of you leads to their behaving in ways that reinforce how they see you. Moreover, you will respond accordingly: you will respond as a person who is smart, intelligent and creative.

#2 Practise Visualisation

According to Richard Shell, Wharton School Professor and bestselling author of Springboard: Launching Your Personal Search for Success, visualisation to rehearse a forthcoming event can be beneficial for your confidence. Visualisation gives you the opportunity to picture yourself overcoming particular obstacles that may arise, for example, which will help to reduce nervousness.

#3 Focus on Accumulating Small Wins

Studies have shown that even small, incremental wins can have a significant impact on confidence. According to Shell, one of the techniques used by USA Swimming to prepare its athletes for the Olympic Games is to encourage them to concentrate on accumulating small wins, as opposed to a larger, ultimate goal. Examples of these small wins include polishing up their  strokes and working to improve various techniques. This focus on small wins boosts their  confidence, encouraging them to attempt further small achievements each day.

#4 Enact a Ritual

What is it that gets you ’in the zone’? A strong cup of coffee before a presentation? Pacing up and down your office five times before every client meeting? Meditating for five minutes in your room before you lead a meeting?  Rituals have been used since the genesis of time, and more recently have been shown to have a positive effect on reducing stress and anxiety, and improving state of mind. Furthermore,  researchers Francesco Gino and Michael Norton have found that:

While some rituals are unlikely to be effective – knocking on wood will not bring rain – many everyday rituals make a lot of sense and are surprisingly effective.” 

#5 Develop a ‘Growth Mind-set’

According to Stanford University researcher Carol Dweck, as reported in the Harvard Business Review, those who focus on developing their abilities over time rather on the achievement of specific results experience the  positive benefits associated with confidence: they “enjoy challenges, strive to learn, and consistently see the potential to develop new skills”. A focus on learning means that failure is more likely to be accepted and accommodated as part of learning, rather than feared – a common reason for giving up.  Dweck’s main thesis is that ability to learn is not fixed; it can be ‘grown’. In her research, she found that those without a growth mind-set were more likely to shun ”innovative” projects, fear failure and engage in unproductive behaviours.

The prevailing body of research on confidence confirms that confidence it is a trait that can be developed. As these research-backed tips show, there are a number of habits we can employ to help us develop our confidence.  Let me know how you get on.

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