Has the self-doubt set in yet? Feeling as though any day, the people who believe in you will discover you’re not the leader they thought you were?
“Imposter Syndrome” is common among high achievers. You might find yourself experiencing it firsthand.
As a leader, you know how important it is to have a solid foundation of confidence, because if you don’t believe in you, you can’t expect your people to believe in you.
Let’s get your self-image where it needs to be.
It’s time to challenge everything you’ve ever heard about building confidence.
You know if you want what you’ve never had, you need to do what you’ve never done. Let’s take old ideas that don’t work, and leave them in the past where they belong.
Time to shake up assumptions, rethink your thinking and start developing confidence that lasts.
Crystal clear precap:
5 Wild ideas, wisely applied, to boost your confidence:
- Practice backwards thinking
- Get on the fast track to failure
- Lower your standards
- Think small
- Compare yourself to others
Crazy, right? These 5 ideas probably go against everything you’ve ever heard about success. Funny thing is, they work.
Let’s take a closer look at how you can gain confidence as a leader by taking these 5 ideas to heart.
1) Practice backward thinking.
How many times have you seen a job that you’d be “perfect” for, but wait, on page 12 of the job description, you see one little task that you’ve never done before, so you decide you’re not “ready” for this opportunity. And you don’t apply for the position or promotion.
Meanwhile, the job goes to someone who puts himself out there and figures if that small requirement were that important, it would be on the short list of skills, not buried on page 12.
He knows he can learn the task later, if it’s really that important.
Have you held yourself back from going for opportunities? They could be going for a promotion, or starting a conversation with someone you respect that you’d like to get to know better?
Maybe you’ve said to yourself: “Sure it would be great to build my professional network, and I know that the most successful leaders in business have mentors and sponsors.”
“But, I’m just not quite ready to approach that person, or apply for that promotion, or ask to be sent to that training. I’ll wait until I feel more ready and sure about myself and then I’ll ask.”
Time to practice backward thinking.
#Leaders Action comes first, #confidence second. ~ @CrystalMJonas http://preview.tinyurl.com/zyyzs9c
The most successful people you know do NOT wait until they feel confident. They know that action comes first, then they take their very act of moving forward on their idea as evidence that they are confident.
Which comes first, confidence or action? Easy answer: Action comes first.
Lesson one: practice thinking backwards and putting action before confidence. And yes, the next four ideas will help you act even when you don’t feel confident!
2) Get on the fast track to failure.
Let’s start with reframing this idea of failure because it sounds like something horrible you’d like to avoid at all cost.
The new term for failure is feedback.
Successful people who you might believe never have a moment of self-doubt see missteps and mistakes differently from most people.
They approach life more like a science experiment.
Here’s an example of how you might reframe failure as feedback.
#Fail forward fast for faster #success. ~ @CrystalMJonas http://preview.tinyurl.com/zyyzs9c
Let’s say that you’d really like to build a professional relationship with a very well known, respected and successful person in your industry.
You might start by sending an email asking this person if she will mentor you. (By the way, do not do this! It’s not the way to cultivate a mentor relationship. We’ll cover how to do that in lessons down the road.)
You find that your email gets totally ignored, and you wonder if it even went through.
You conclude: That silence on her part is feedback. Email, and or, the approach you used is not the best way to connect with this person.
What else can you try?
You find out which professional associations she belongs to, and you sign up for their meetings as a guest. You find that this lady you admire is so popular, you can’t get within 50 feet to say hello.
More feedback, perhaps this isn’t the best approach either. So quickly, you try something else. You set up a Google alert that lets you know any time she’s mentioned in the media.
You get an alert that she’s received an award. You write her a snail mail note, delivered to her office, where you congratulate her for her success.
Let her know you’ve been a fan for years, and you’d welcome the opportunity to buy her a coffee and chat with her for 15 minutes whenever she’s free.
You include your contact info.
Two weeks later, she calls you.
Here’s the question: How long did it take you to fail, or as we’re going to call it now, receive feedback before you figured out what would and wouldn’t work?
The answer pretty much is “How long do you want it to take?”
Get on the fast track of acting until you find out which actions work.
If these task above had taken you 6 months to build up the nerve to email her, then 4 months to get over feeling bad about her not emailing back, then another 4 months of getting up the courage to go to a meeting where you might meet, and another 2 months to feel good about snail mailing her. Well, you see the problem here?
By the time you finally get around to connecting, she could be retired! Or you could be!
When you put yourself on the fast track to feedback, you embrace what Carol Dweck calls “growth mindset.” This is different from “fixed mindset.”
People with fixed mindset believe that you’re either smart, or have a way with people, or business, or anything, or not. People with fixed mindset believe talent is fixed at birth.
Where you find great levels of success is with people with “growth mindset.” They believe with hustle, training and a quick willingness to learn from what doesn’t work and adjust, they can be successful.
3) Lower your standards.
If you’ve suffered from perfectionism, this is going to be a challenging one for you.
After all, how can you possibly be carrying out your value of integrity if you are giving less than your best?
Here’s the answer: and again, it has to do with redefining your terms. Instead of thinking of having high standards as something that’s neither necessary nor even noticed, try going for “good enough.”
You’re pushing back on this one, aren’t you?
Shift your focus from what you know you can do, near perfect work, to what the task at hand requires. If you don’t get enough of the right tasks done quickly AND well, your confidence will take a big hit.
Confident professionals know where to focus their time and effort so the right things get done in the right ways.
They recognize when something doesn’t need to be perfect, it just needs to be completed.
I once had a surgeon in my Leadership seminar, and then, a NASA engineer. Both of them said the same thing: “Not all aspects of any job have to be perfect.” Granted, a few things do, but not all.
Save your attention and energy for those very few tasks that need to be spot on accurate. For example, if your department is responsible for billing customers, you wouldn’t think rounding all of the invoices up to the nearest dollar would be an appropriate example of “good enough.”
Only you know what parts of your job need your attention and energy for accurate detail, and when “good enough” will do. Plan accordingly, and be confident that you are using your personal resources well.
And if you’re still resisting this idea, remember: You know your job better than anyone, right? 80% of people looking at your work don’t notice that it’s not perfect.
80% of the 20% who do notice that it’s not perfect are just glad they don’t have to do your job.
And, of the very few left who do notice that you’re work isn’t perfect, and they’re going to criticize you for it, well, you’re never going to please them anyway. So, save your energy and attention for things you can positively influence.
4) Think small.
No wonder you’ve had a hard time with confidence in the past! You’re trying to roll out ideas that are huge all at once!
How about rolling out very small ideas, but doing that more quickly?
Let’s say that you manage a department in an on-line company that specializes in virtual courses for college success.
You want to create a course that has 10 modules and each module is an hour long.
Instead of doing 10 modules as one product, how about creating each module as a stand alone product so you can quickly get it to market and start testing to see how your audience responds to your format and approach.
Here’s what I always say: “No idea in business goes from inception to execution without finding out what doesn’t work.”
You know for a fact that your clients are going to give you feedback on that first module you roll out. They may love it, they may want some slight or major changes.
Whatever your feedback, you and your team will be far more agile and able to respond if you start small, and leverage the feedback you get by being able to quickly go back to the drawing board and improve your product.
Or, let’s say that you tell your team that you know from chatting with them informally that they really love the idea of flexes time.
Instead of creating chaos by letting everyone come in and leave whenever they want, because you know that senior leadership will never sign off on that idea anyway, try very small changes at first.
Talk with your team about testing small ideas for a month at a time. Of course, ask for their input on ideas, because incorporating team input is always a great way to ensure you have buy in. People are usually big fans of their own ideas.
Instead of trying something as big as having the team take turns with complete days working from home, you can try a smaller roll out. Such as having the team agree to who will come in and leave a half hour earlier and who will come in and leave a half hour later.
Starting small helps you manage risks and helps you more quickly make necessary adjustments.
As you start to build on these small successes, you feel more and more confident.
5) Compare yourself to others.
#Compare yourself to others. Wisely. ~ @CrystalMJonas http://preview.tinyurl.com/zyyzs9c
What an outrageous idea! All your adult life, you’ve probably been advised NOT to do this!
The problem is not that people compare themselves to others, but they compare themselves to others at the wrong time.
It’s not fair to compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.
I have a professional keynote speaker and seminar leader for over 20 years. Recently a participant came up to be after a program and told me how much she enjoyed the seminar and that I was a natural.
I know that she meant that as a compliment. After I told her I was so pleased she found the seminar valuable, I let her know, kindly, of course, that I have actually spent a lot of time and effort into become the best speaker I can be.
There’s not a day I present that I don’t ask “What did I like best about how I delivered that program? And, what can I do to do better next time?”
When you compare your beginning to someone else’s middle, you’re going to have a similar conclusion: “Well, they’re just a natural born leader, violinist, soccer player,” or whatever.
That’s not only inaccurate, it’s not fair
It’s not fair to you, because then you’re not seeing how poorly they did when they started, and you take away that hope that with diligence you can also get better.
And, you diminish all of the hustle and hard work, and deliberate practice they went through to get better. They have earned their progress, and that deserves to be acknowledged.
When we’re talking about you comparing yourself to others, compare your beginning to their beginning.
They started out with good intentions and a willingness to learn, just like you.
Keep being willing to learn and grow, and you will also experience your own special brand of success.
Crazy ideas, I know. But try them anyway. And get ready to earn and enjoy some outrageous levels of well-earned confidence.
If your company would like some help in developing your emerging leaders and high potentials, I can help. Send an email to Crystal@CrystalJonas.com and let’s chat live.