3 Simple Actions You Can Take To Be More Confident
Updated: Apr 10, 2022
Tucker Miller | President and Founder of Day 6 Leadership, LLC
Feelings of not being good enough can stall a career. More often than not, the only person who needs to be convinced about your leadership readiness is you. Imagine what would be possible if you accepted that you are good enough right now -- and you are a human having a completely normal experience that involves discomfort, failure, and ultimately growth. There is nothing wrong with you. You are enough and you deserve to feel confident right now. Here's how.
The unfortunate Story Of "not enough"
Before offering three tips to be more confident, let me share a story. This is Layla's story, but there are many versions of this story; in fact, I hear this story told most often by women regardless of their position or tenure in business.
Layla attended a business meeting about a topic for which she had a key responsibility. During the meeting, even when prompted, she contributed little. After the meeting, talking with her privately, I learned that she disagreed with the direction the team decided to take. I asked why she didn't say anything. She responded, “Who am I? I’m no expert.” Layla had decided that what she had to say didn't matter and wouldn't have made a difference. She felt unqualified to share her opinion. I asked,
“Who says you are not qualified now?”
Layla looked at me with disbelief and started bringing forth all the evidence to support her case:
I don't have a college degree.
I'm still in school.
I'm not a manager.
I've never done this before.
Layla also pointed out that everyone else in the room out-ranked her and were all men with more tenure and status.
Her own bias about her gender, years of experience, and qualifications were getting in the way of her contributions to the team. Because she felt "less than," she gave less.
Unknowingly, she also demonstrated to others that she had little to offer and may not be someone to consult or include in future meetings.
Layla's reason for staying silent came down to insecurity. She decided that she didn't want to make waves or risk saying the wrong thing. To play it safe, she would be "a good girl", put her head down, and do what she was asked while secretly dissenting.
The issue isn't about qualifications, it's about confidence.
And here's the rub: you can't solve a confidence problem with a degree or a title.
acting with confidence
Confidence is an inside job -- and there's nothing you need to prove to yourself or anyone else to be worthy of feeling confident.
The mistake that many people make is thinking that confidence is something you're born with or that you can earn it by accumulating likes, accolades, and awards. I want to suggest to you that confidence is both a decision and a practice.
What if the only thing that makes you qualified is believing in yourself and giving yourself permission to show up, speak up, and sometimes even act up?
Ready to stir up some "good trouble"?
All it takes is a little confidence.
1. Accept the RolE of "Confident Person"
Waiting for something to make you can feel confident puts you at the mercy of others' opinions and external circumstances -- neither of which are in your control. Instead, make the decision to feel confident. Starting now.
Think of it this way: imagine you are auditioning for the role of "confident person." A method actor immerses herself into the character. She studies how the character would feel and what would motivate her.
Immerse yourself in the belief that you are the star of your own story. Now, how do you want to feel?
Give yourself permission to go for it. Feel confident because the role demands it of you. Plan to feel confident as you prepare for a meeting, stay in character during the meeting, and don't second-guess yourself when the meeting is over. You have the chance to refine your performance every time you deliver it. Look forward, not back.
2. Learn Your Script
Learn the script of a confident person: what she says to herself, what she says to others, and pay attention to the things she does not say to herself or out loud. Notice that the confident person apologizes when she's hurt someone, but does not apologize for sharing her point of view.
Commit to your script. Remain in character. Rehearse. Recite the lines to yourself:
I understand the project.
I know how to fix this.
I can do it.
I have prepared carefully and fully.
As you practice your script, you might wonder why you still feel nervous, uncertain, undeserving, insecure, or the like -- even after you've decided to feel confident. Short answer: it's normal. Your brain is working overtime scanning for danger, trying to keep you safe. But if you focus on safety instead of confidence, you will stay stuck.
Confidence is not demonstrated by the absence of insecurity. Confidence is the result of deciding to feel and act confidently despite our fears and stories.
Discomfort is the currency of growth. Let's go for a little discomfort then. I guarantee it makes life a whole lot more interesting.
The more you become at ease with discomfort, the more confidence you will bring to every role in your life.
See your mental script as the plan for taking on bigger roles.
3. Act As If
This is where you shine -- perform as if you are, in fact, a confident person. Go for it and be prepared to surprise yourself. Just acting without preparation could feel scary and inauthentic. Understand that I am not suggesting that you "fake it until you make it." Faking it never feels good and it is all too easy for others to see it for what it is. Repeatedly throwing yourself into the deep end of the pool without a lifeguard, a noodle, or a lesson can be exhausting, if not life-threatening.
That's why your preparation -- deciding to feel confident and learning the script of the character you've committed to play -- is so important. The payoff for preparation is muscle memory and integration.
The more you "act as if," you "become as if," and then one day you discover you simply "are."
I often remind clients that you may need to "be" before you "are." What I mean by that is to show up from the perspective of what and who you want to be. You may not have the job title or salary yet to which you aspire, but you can act as if you do. The rest of the world will catch up with you. With practice, you will begin to notice that you are habitually and naturally confident. Others will too. Give yourself a high-five and take a bow.
Let go of what you think others are thinking or what they might say. Get out of their heads and stay in yours. When you are willing to show up from a place of authenticity, you are confidence personified: you are being courageous whenever you are willing to try new things, even when there is a risk that they won't turn out as planned. In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, "Do what you feel in your heart to be right -- for you'll be criticized anyway."
And you may not be criticized. The point is, believe in yourself and speak up, take action.
We need more confident, kind, caring humans leading us to being better versions of ourselves.
A Final Thought
While these three steps are simple, they may not be all that easy at times, especially when you perceive there is a lot at stake. It's also often difficult to see yourself objectively so you can assess the gaps between what you intend and the impact you are having. That's why it's important to identify an accountability partner or invest in a coach to serve as a partner and sounding board. A lack of confidence begets insecurity without support. You don't need to go it alone.
Let us know if we can help. We're here for you.
Day 6 Leadership, LLC is a consulting and coaching company specializing in helping to prepare women leaders for expanded responsibility, influence, and impact.