Here is the hard truth – you can be a highly skilled professional, a smart and very successful person, and still be lacking self-confidence. You can tell that you don’t have enough confidence when you constantly seek other people’s approval or when you let their judgement (real or imagined) affect the way you feel about yourself. You hope that obtaining their approval will help you overcome your fears, fear of failure in particular.
Unfortunately, it won’t.
But there is another, a much better way to build confidence – a way that you can start implementing TODAY.
And the best part about it is that it will only require 5 minutes of your time per day.
Do you want to learn what it is? Then keep on reading.
Fear of failure
Two days ago, I had a long conversation with one of my team members. She is my mentee and a good friend of mine. Amazing professional, highly skilled, responsible, smart, and sharp girl, she was panicking. She was literally in tears when we were talking.
Here’s what happened.
A couple weeks prior we were discussing that her workload had gotten kinda light, and so we decided that it’s time for her to take on a new initiative for our client. It was an exciting and challenging opportunity, something that would potentially open new doors for us with this client, so we were both looking forward to it.
Last week that initiative kicked off. And at the same time, ironically, her other duties that had been “light” lately suddenly all kicked in as well. And she suddenly became very busy.
I could see that she was suddenly getting stretched too thin, and earlier this week she got to the point when it just became too much.
And so during that conversation two days ago, as we were talking about something, she got very emotional. And she kept saying:
“I’m failing. I’m failing expectations. I’m failing at my job. I’m not doing what people are expecting me to do.”
And here’s the thing. No one, neither from our company nor the client, had said that she was failing anything. That initiative had just started, no results had been even produced yet, and there was no way to fail anything at that point.
And still, she was already feeling like she was failing. She was already anticipating that somebody would come and say that she was doing a terrible job even though I kept telling her what an amazing job she was doing. And the client had always liked working with her.
Still, this thought that she was not meeting other people’s expectations was stuck in her head and just wouldn’t go away.
So, what is it?
Why do we have this fear of failure?
Where does it come from?
It is VERY stressful and annoying. Especially, when sometimes we see people who seem to not care about what others think about them at all. They seem to feel good about themselves no matter what.
What do those people have that some of us don’t?
Confidence is the foundation
It is confidence. Or, in this case lack of confidence.
Yes, you can be a great professional, a highly skilled professional, a very smart person, a successful person and you can still lack confidence! Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? How can it even be possible that, with all that success that you achieved in your life, you still lack confidence?
And still, so many of us do.
I believe it all goes back to our childhood – when we are compared to our siblings by our parents, or we are compared to our classmates by our teachers.
We are constantly told that we are not good enough, that we need to do better, that we are not as good as somebody else. And this thought gets stuck in our heads, and we carry it to our adulthood.
We carry it on our shoulders as baggage that we don’t need, but we don’t know how to get rid of it!
And the reason why some people don’t have that baggage, or how they were able to get rid of it, is they were able to establish their own internal approval system – their own calibration system, their own assessment system. They do NOT depend on other people’s approval anymore. All they need to to get approval from themselves. And it is enough for them.
And those of us who don’t have this internal system in place have to wait for approval from somebody else.
And the irony is that when you do receive this approval, it won’t even make you feel that good for an extended amount of time. Yes, you might feel relieved for a little bit, but then the moment they express any doubt, any concern, any negative feeling towards you, you’ll be drawn back to the negative.
There is no chance you will ever get to the positive side of the spectrum if you continue depending on external approval only.
The only way you can do it is by establishing your own internal approval system.
And the only way to do it is by noticing, recognizing and appreciating strengths, qualities, and abilities that you have and that you use in your life.
Personal strengths and confidence
Because, confidence by definition is us recognizing and appreciating our strengths, qualities and abilities.
And you already have so many of them!
The problem is you don’t know they exist. You don’t recognize and appreciate them.
So what can you do in order to fix that? What can you do to raise your level of confidence?
You need to start training that muscle of recognizing and appreciating your own strengths.
Make it a new daily habit for yourself. At the end of every day, think about at least one thing that went well today because of you – because you did something that made it happen.
It can be tricky at first, but don’t go to sleep until you come up with at least one thing every night about what went well today because of you. Then, once you identify that thing, ask yourself, “What qualities or abilities of mine helped me make that happen?”
Identify those qualities and abilities and write them down.
Create a simple strength tracker and put it on your nightstand. Start tracking your qualities and abilities daily, and in just a few weeks you will be amazed to see how many strengths you actually have and how you use them in your day-to-day life.
And this is when you will start gaining confidence.
Because again, by definition, confidence raises from us recognizing and appreciating qualities and abilities that we already have. So all you need to do is notice them and celebrate them.
The life ripple effect, or how to elevate your life
And here is another beautiful thing about your strengths – you don’t use them in just one area of your life. Maybe one day you come up with a success related to your hobby. But then your overall confidence level goes up, and it influences your work too. Or vice versa.
Your strengths are used across your whole life. And once you elevate one area of your life, once you recognize your strengths in one area of your life, they will automatically help you elevate other areas of your life too.
I call it the Life Ripple Effect.
So, start spotting your strengths, start training that muscle. And, once you turn it into a habit, turn it into an adventure of self-discovery and self-exploration. Get curious about what else you are capable of! And the more you do it the more you will be amazed to see how much you can actually do.
This is what I told my friend two days ago. And then I let her have some alone time so she can freely express her emotions. And then yesterday, when I checked on her, she was feeling much better.
She said, “I DO have talents! I DO have strengths! I just need to remember about them!”
And I replied, “Yes, that’s exactly right!”
Remember, it is your main job – to know what strengths and talents you have, to recognize them and to appreciate them.
And then you won’t need any external approval.
You won’t need any external recognition to feel good.
You will NOT let anybody make you feel down, make you feel stressed, make you feel like you’re doing a terrible job because you will have that internal strength.
You will have confidence in yourself that nobody will be able to break.
And that is a truly amazing feeling.