Regular coaching clients will be familiar with the pot plant speech. No, not that type of pot plant. The pot plant speech is my theory of confidence.
I feel that many people treat confidence as if it were some kind of indoor plant. They hope that if they nurture it, it’ll grow, and maybe one day they’ll tuck it under their arm and take it out for a walk. So they say things like “If I had more confidence I would quit my job/write a book/join a gym/insert scary action of choice”.
But confidence doesn’t work like that. It will not grow independently before you do things. It grows whilst you do them. So if you are waiting until you’re more confident to do something, then your best course of action is probably to take a deep breath and do it anyway. And as you do, your confidence will increase.
The word confidence derives from the Latin meaning ‘with faith’. So it’s not about doing things enormously well, or making a big splash necessarily. It’s about having faith in yourself, trusting that you can deal with whatever life chucks at you.
Some things I believe about confidence
- It never goes in a straight line. Your confidence levels will change with time.
- The people who appear most confident on the outside are often the most crumbly inside.
- Confidence exists in little pockets throughout your life. The trick is to access the pockets when you need them.
- Children are born with 100% confidence. When did you last see an unconfident newborn baby? Babies don’t know enough about the world to be afraid of it, so they have no reason to feel unconfident. You were born confident, therefore you have it within you. It may be buried, but it hasn’t gone away and you can find it again.
Ways that you can increase your confidence include:
- Take some exercise. It doesn’t much matter what – the point is that you take your focus out of your head and into your body.
- Uplift the externals. New haircut, clothes you love, nice surroundings – all of these things will have a huge effect on how you feel internally. Put it another way – sitting around in your oldest jogging trousers with a hole at the knee ain’t exactly going to put a whole lot of zipadeedoodah in your day.
- Do something you didn’t think people like you did. So if you think of yourself as being perfectly erudite, go to Butlins. If you think you’re quiet, start singing. I am a fairly calm person, so I have recently taken up BodyCombat, which involves lots of shouting and strangling imaginary adversaries. Does me the world of good.
- Talk to a human being. It’s terribly retro, I know, but hiding behind email and text messaging doesn’t necessarily help your confidence. It might feel like it’s keeping you safe, but so much falls through the gaps when you avoid proper conversations.
- Keep a success journal – Even if it’s on the back of an envelope, write down your personal successes – the things that made you smile today; the things you’re glad you’ve done; stuff you’re proud of having produced. It’ll soon add up.
- Do something new and (preferably) slightly scary every day. Today I made a phone call I was avoiding, tomorrow I will eat a papaya etc. That’ll stretch your comfort zone pretty fast.
What are your best confidence tips?
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