Build your self-confidence for that all-important game, meeting or presentation
If you have something important coming up where the outcome depends on your performance, you’re probably a little nervous. That’s natural. But if, on top of that, you’re plagued by your inner voice saying “you can’t do it, you’ll make a mess of things and it’s all going to end in a humiliating defeat”, your self-confidence is bound to be in deficit.
This requires some serious action to top up your funds, ready for the big day.
Let’s start by defining confidence. A common definition is “the feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something.” Synonyms for confidence include trust, belief, faith, conviction.
Robyn Benincasa, a CNN Hero, world champion adventure racer, founder of Project Athena, and author of the New York Times bestseller How Winning Works, describes confidence and its purpose, in the following way:
Confidence is strength of character based on life experience and continued success. This is what propels us forward. Ego, on the other hand, is weakness of character based on insecurity and fear. This is what causes our downfall.Robyn Benincasa
Confidence in others
Often you have confidence in someone because you have good experience of their past support, or reliability. For example, say you have a dentist you have been visiting for years, and on each visit you receive good service and treatment (albeit sometimes painful or uncomfortable!). When you need to go to the dentist again, given their past good track record, you’ll book them again – even if the symptoms you are facing now are completely new to you. You have full confidence that the dentist will resolve it.
It is also possible to have confidence in someone on your first meeting, because they transmit a confidence in themselves and they demonstrate body language or vibes which will invariably open the door for you to feel you can have confidence in them.
Imagine if you knew that your dentist doesn’t have much self-confidence. Every time you make an appointment with them, they have a little flutter of self-doubt. Would you feel comfortable letting them loose on your precious teeth? They may well feel that way inside. They are human too.
When it comes to having confidence in ourselves though, it is slightly more difficult, to say the least! For example, if you have an important game, an important client meeting, or a first date with someone, you may be feeling apprehensive. Even though you have been successful in these areas in the past, you’ll be in need of a good dose of self-confidence.
Here are some steps to follow, so that you can appear – and even become – more confident.
How to increase your ‘Confidence Bank Balance’
Now let’s imagine a confident person. Think of someone who you admire for their confidence.
- Observe their body language, how they stand, sit, walk
- Listen to their tone of voice, their words, the type of things they say
- Notice their smell
- Identify how you feel in their company
- Immerse yourself in their energy, imagining what it feels like to be them, in that situation where you perceive their confidence.
- Set yourself tasks or sub-objectives which will prepare you for a specific event or goal, such as learning or polishing technical skills, reviewing past similar events and identifying lessons learned.
- Break these down into do-able daily tasks, relatively easy to accomplish time and effort-wise.
- Each time you complete one of the tasks, allocate a score. For example: 10 points for reviewing the client portfolio and proposed documentation. If you only manage to do half of it, allocate 5 points, and when you conclude the task, add on the remaining 5 points. These points make up your confidence ‘bank balance’.
- Keep track of the budget and the amount of points in your balance sheet as this provides a clear tangible picture of what we can do and what we have done and motivates us to keep going, rather than thinking that we haven’t really done much, or that we maybe cannot do it.
In this exercise we are demonstrating to ourselves that we really can do it, and we really are moving forward and preparing ourselves for that situation.
3. The big day
What to do in the moment
- Breathe, and bring back the image of the person you admire for their confidence, and immerse yourself in that feeling
- Act confident: smile as you greet your client, your rivals on the court, your potential new sentimental partner
- Keep humble! Appreciate and feel gratitude for where you are and who you are with. Remember that appearing over-confident can be more detrimental than a lack of self-confidence.
4. Reflections and lessons learned
Find and create a relaxed environment for yourself to reflect without judging how great or awful it was. Simply observe what led to the desired outcome to identify your ‘best practices’, what you would want to change in the future and how you can do that.
Refer back to your confidence ‘bank balance’ and re-assign tasks to take you towards those identified changes, ensuring you account for each step in the chosen direction on balance sheet.