It's The Confidence Inside That Counts

The International Women's Day 2019 campaign theme of #BalanceforBetter is a call-to-action for driving gender balance across the world and particularly in the workplace. 

Guest writer Belinda Elworthy from shares her tips on how to build the confidence to advance in career and life and step close to a gender balanced world.

It’s the confidence inside that counts. Here’s how to nourish it.

There’s a little confidence ritual I go through before every speaking engagement. Whether it’s running a workshop, pitching business ideas or speaking to a large audience, this 20 second ritual gets me into the exact headspace I need to engage with an audience in my most confident way.

When I am presenting, my focus is on embodying confidence, because this is usually what I want my audience to feel. Confidence in themselves, in the information that I am sharing with them, and in our brand.

It’s this outward expression of confidence that popular culture loves to promote. The energised, ‘Are you with me?’, contagious type of external confidence. But this outward facing confidence is only one expression of the self-belief we need to realise our career and life ambitions. It’s arguably the self-confidence that resides inside us, that holds the most potential. And figuring out how to nourish it, is a life skill worth learning.

Having an inner sense of confidence at work matters. Our belief in our own ability impacts how we think and feel, the choices we make, the level of risk we take, how long we persevere towards our goals when we face obstacles, and our psychological wellbeing.

Think about that for a second or two.

Self-confidence is a bit of an internal super-power if you have ambitions you’re hoping to realise. In its most simple form, we can describe this inner confidence as ‘our belief in our capability to achieve something’. If you remember being read Little Golden Books, you might recall the much-loved children’s story of the “Little Engine that could”? Confidence is knowing deep down that you can.

Another thing about confidence is that it’s not static. You’re not gifted a certain amount of confidence for life. Your confidence experiences ebbs and flows as you experience life and confidence also tends to be domain-specific. The good news about all of this, is that confidence is something that you can nourish.

There are actually lots of ways you can give yourself a short-term boost to your confidence, but if you’re looking for a ritual that lasts longer than my pre-event gee-up, here are 3 areas to focus on:

  • Appoint an A-Team

Creating the conditions for confidence means that you feel supported and valued by people in your environment. When others demonstrate their belief in us, our confidence is enhanced, so we recommend appointing your own personal Board of Directors – we like to call this your ‘A-Team’.

  • Recognise that confidence builds with experience.

 Psychological science has shown us the most powerful driver of confidence, is our own personal experience. Once you have actually done something, your level of confidence in doing it (or something similar) multiplies. The bad news? It means you actually need to do the things you’re feeling scared about. The good news? In doing it, you’re making an investment in your confidence account that will give you an exponential return on investment.

  • Dig up your past.

I’m constantly surprised by how easily we forget our accomplishments throughout our careers. A powerful exercise we do in our career and confidence programs is to ask participants to recall times in the past when they were at their best. Often, when we unpack their experiences a little more, we uncover that during these events, they were engaging the exact qualities they felt they needed to become more confident at work.

My pre-event ritual up is an effective pre-performance strategy for me, but the foundation lies in nourishing my inner self-confidence, as like you, I don’t have access to an overflowing confidence account. Appointing an A-Team, gaining experience and digging up your past aren’t the only strategies that work, but they’re ones I love, because when done right, they give you an effective way to invest in your confidence bank account time and time again.

Isn’t it time you invested in you?

About the Author: Belinda Elworthy is a sought-after Leadership Development Coach. With a passion for women’s leadership development, and helping women to thrive, Along with her Co-Founder Amy Quinnell, Belinda runs, an organisation that supports women to find work that matters, and return to work with confidence after a career break or maternity leave. SheThrives access-anywhere online programs are like having a career coach at your fingertips. 

Download SheThrives 8 ways to build Career Confidence.