If you’ve watched reality competition shows on television, contestants who at the start of the series appear subdued shy and piled in the middle, find their mojo somewhere at the middle of the series and go on to win the competition. Judges used exaggerated words to describe that change in contestantssuch as X-Factor, mojo, etc. Here’s what I believe happens, contestants at the start of the series begin with a lot of self-doubt and anxiety.With continuous positive comments and attention, the confidence levels increase and contestants begins to feel more assured to experiment, take risks by doing more complex assignments that displays their skills thus putting them at the top of their game.
A lot of us go through the same process during our careers; unfortunately we don’t necessarily have the advantage of having cheerleaders and situations that boosts our confidence in such short periods. Many spend years in careers, with good skills, technique & intelligence but never really hitting the stride. Two main factors contribute to our self-confidence- self-efficacy and self-esteem. Self efficacy is being able to master skills or capabilities in which we think are important for us. The pride and joy we feel, in mastering techniques and having deep insights in the skills we value, make us want perform complex jobs, experiment and take up challenges. The other aspect of confidence is a high self-esteem. Valuing and appreciating yourself by not focussing on the flaws alone. Self-esteem increases when there is positive reaffirmation of ourselves from those around us.
Organizations benefit a great deal, by having a confident workforce. Confident employees are more willing to try new techniques and ideas, complete difficult tasks, compete for perks, learn new concepts and build successful careers. These employees also feel more in control of things around them, and are challenged by failures. Employee engagement, R&R and the performance appraisals are effective tools that good organizations use to help employees reinforce their self-esteem.
As working professionals who wish to progress in their careers, it is important that individuals take the effort to build their own confidence levels up. Opportunities at work are rarely given to those who are nervous, scattered, reticent or high-strung.
- Reality check: Do an assessment of yourself. Appreciate the struggles and efforts you have taken thus far. Understand your strengths and weaknesses. Strengths need to be developed further to boost self-esteem. Work on diminishing your weaknesses. Confidence comes from accepting the strengths and weakness you have, and arrogance comes from ignoring your weakness and accepting only the strengths. Low confidence comes from accepting only the weakness and dismissing strengths as luck.
- Seek out victories: In our self-depreciation, we are likely to brush aside small victories as insignificant. We also brush aside good work as luck. Those with low confidence dismiss compliments offhandedly. “Oh that job was nothing really, anyone could have done it.” Confident people tend to challenge themselves and compete, even when their efforts yield small victories. Small victories build new androgen receptors in the areas of the brain responsible for reward and motivation. This increase in androgen receptors increases the influence of testosterone, which further increases your confidence and your eagerness to tackle future challenges. When you have a series of small victories, the boost in your confidence can last for months.
- Groom yourself: Grooming and looking good is a high part of confidence building measure. Wearing clothes that you think are in fashion for office, knowing how to eat with what cutlery, being able to speak in English are all important measures. I’ve often noticed that some who lack skills they desire often resort to derogatory labelling of those who have those skills, as a mechanism to cope. In the long run, these people are never really able to overcome this complexity. There are also many experiments and studies that show, people treat you differently when you are dressed well & appropriately at the office. Take advantage of that.
- Have a mentor, have friends: At work or otherwise, build bonds with people who can help and guide you in the right direction especially in period of self-doubt. Having a mentor who can show you the tricks of the trade helps you ease into tasks/situations that would otherwise seem daunting and bring down confidence.
“Be confident. Too many days are wasted comparing ourselves to others and wishing to be something we aren’t. Everybody has their own strengths and weaknesses, and it is only when you accept everything you are- and you aren’t- that you will truly succeed.”- Unknown