One of the best ways to build your confidence is to accumulate and overcome challenges. Many people think they’re confident because of their accomplishments, rather, they are confident because of the obstacles they overcame to achieve their goals.
I’d like to share a personal example: In my coaching course, I was required to facilitate a group coaching session for 1.5 hours and be observed by our instructor. Initially, I was very anxious about it weeks ahead of time. Much in advance, I scheduled time to practice within the same week, knowing it would boost my confidence.
First, I scheduled an online video conference (that was the scenario in the session/call) to practice my topic and coaching skills with some of my Meetup members. Then, the night before my call, I had scheduled an in-person Meetup meeting to practice some more with different members. I learned quite a bit in the process. By the morning of my group coaching class, I felt much more confident than I had earlier in the week and ended up doing a great job! Of course, I learned more from that experience as well, and am open to receiving feedback to improve. Although it’s not always easy to hear, it will ultimately make me a better coach. Confidence can be specific to a practiced skill or talent, so people can say, “I’m very confident in public speaking.” “I’m very confident when it comes to playing sports.” “I’m very confident in my work.” Note how it is about attributing that confidence to a certain area.
Self-confidence is an overall mindset about your ability in all areas of life that matter to you. Here is the difference to distinguish between the two. Let’s say you are confident in basketball. You have played basketball your whole life. You are very good at it. You know that you can go on the court and hold your own. It doesn’t mean, “I’m not going to make any mistakes.” It doesn’t mean, “I’m better than everyone else out there on the court.” It simply means, “I know how to handle pretty much anything on that court. I’ve played enough. There are lots of things that will come up, but I’ll know how to handle them.”
We don’t know how to do everything, especially when we’re trying new things, but when we know how to handle our own mindset and emotions, that is where confidence comes from. A growth mindset generates self-confidence: knowing that we can figure things out, knowing that we can grow. A fixed mindset sees failing at something as an expression of a character or talent flaw. The minute a mistake is made, the minute we come up against something, we are not going to have self-confidence to overcome it and we will probably give up.
Let’s combine self-confidence and a growth mindset. It comes from thinking, “Of course there’s going to be mistakes. Of course, I’m going to fail at some point. That’s how I grow.” A growth mindset thrives on challenge and sees failure as an opportunity for growth and for stretching our existing abilities.
What is your belief about your capability? Do you believe it is fixed? Do you believe you can grow and learn how to do anything? To learn tools to manage your fear of public speaking or performing?
People that have self-confidence usually have a future-based mindset. They don’t base their confidence on something that they’ve done in the past because they are only going to be repeating and improving on things from their past. There won’t be room for massive action in the future when relying on the past to provide evidence that they can be confident.
Some people think that, “Self-confidence comes from always winning, always being successful.” That is backwards. You have to have self-confidence before you create success, not after.
Failure is the way to success. Discomfort is the exchange for success. When you have self-confidence, you can create amazing success because you’re willing to keep going. Self-confidence is your ability to know that you can handle any negative emotion and keep going.
It’s believing in your ability to do what you are afraid to do. Self-confidence doesn’t come from simply believing you can speak in front of people. Self-confidence comes from knowing that if you fail (your perceived perception of failure) you’re going to be okay. It’s not that big of a deal, you can handle embarrassment, fear, and strong emotions. That’s where self-confidence comes from. Thinking: “I’m going to go up there and speak in front of people, and I’m self-confident in doing it because no matter what happens, I will have my own back, I will take care of myself.” The more you do that, then the easier it becomes to rely on yourself.
Set realistic expectations. No one is perfect. Public speaking is difficult to master; even seasoned speakers make mistakes. Instead of telling yourself that you have to deliver your speech flawlessly, think realistic thoughts like, “If I lose my place I will calmly scan my notes and then continue my speech” or “Small mistakes aren’t going to ruin my speech.”
Replace negative thoughts with positive ones and visualize success. When a negative thought comes to mind, catch it and replace it with a positive thought. For example, if you think, “I’m going to forget what to say and just stand there,” replace that with thoughts like, “I’ve done a great deal of research and I know this topic well” and “I have practiced my speech many times and I’m ready to do this.”
Presenters and performers, such as athletes and musicians, have found that visualization can be a powerful tool to improve performance. Imagine yourself delivering a speech or performing with confidence and successfully conveying your message.