This week I was delighted to attend a fabulous event called ‘Bridging the Confidence Gap’ held by EY (Building a better working world). The inspirational speakers were great:
Harriet Minter, editor of the Guardian’s Women in Leadership section
Jacqueline Gold, CEO, Ann Summers
Sue Stockdale, British polar adventurer
Jennifer Philpot, Director, Global Talent Leader, EY Advisory
Alan Bloom, TAS Global Head of Restructuring
It was during the questions and chat amongst the participants, mostly women, that I was even more curious about this whole topic of ‘confidence’, and how it appears to hold women back in the workplace, sport and in life.
In this article I’d like to chat with women specifically but here’s a thing, ‘confidence’ and the questions of, too much of it, lack of it, or how to get it, is an area for all of us, male and female.
So if you’re interested in exploring further the topic of ‘confidence’ – welcome.
You see, for 20 years both as a national athlete, performance coach and more recently as the National Coach for Netball Scotland, I would also have been searching for methods, tips, tools, and strategies to ensure that I was on my game.
Then I discovered that I had it all wrong! Great performance doesn’t come from out there. I realized that I had everything inside me to lead a high performance, confident & fulfilling life and so do you.
I learned that I have innate confidence, another way of saying this would be peace of mind, clarity, well-being, inner calm, mental health, and happiness. I’m born with it, it’s my birthright and it’s yours!
It seems to me that ‘confidence’ is a complete misnomer; we strive and search to get more of it, from someone or something else outside of us, when all the time, it’s a natural component of our being a human.
Confidence is therefore, the absence of Thought – Let me explain:
The only reason we don’t experience our natural confidence is that it gets ‘covered up’. STUFF (thinking) gets in the way.
How many times have you perfected your skills in the training arena, felt 110% confident, complete clarity of mind, to find that in practise/competition you can only access 65% of your skill capacity – well, IT DOESN’T GO ANYWHERE?
My heart went out to the participants seeking answers; I could sense beneath the words, insecurity and fear on a deeper level, they had lost touch with their inner well-being, their true and higher self.
Instead, what runs the show at these times, (and it’s the same for me) is your personal mind – it fills up with what I call, contaminated (insecure, fearful) thinking. When you engage in unproductive, unhelpful thinking, you operate from a low state of mind, with a damaging effect on results.
A person’s true capacity for exceptional leadership, starts with an awareness/understanding of who and what you are as a human-being – the answer therefore is to look within.
Take a look at the following behaviours/responses and ask yourself if they serve you?
- Over analyse/prepare for a presentation because speaking to large audiences makes you feel anxious.
- Tell yourself you’re a shy person unable and without the voice to be heard.
- Even though you’re of the required skill level and highly competent, feel you’re not entitled to be in the room.
- Feel awkward around team-mates that your competing against.
- When communicating strongly, still become fearful people might call you arrogant or bitchy.
- Fail to speak up in a team environment, business or sport, as you may say the wrong thing and upset people.
- Feel uncomfortable about challenging a point of view for fear of appearing over confident.
- Withdraw rather than engage from situations believing you couldn’t possibly have anything to contribute.
- Get stress and feel guilty that other members of the team don’t really want you there.
- Feel intimated and frustrated working with the opposite sex, unable to field your most creative ideas.
You may accept the above experiences as a given, ‘its just the way I’m built’, ‘it’s in my genes, my mother’s like that’, or ‘I’ve always been like this, there’s no changing me now’, but here’s a thing, that’s simply not true. It’s not scientific and it’s not logical.
We’re born into the world, perfectly ok. It’s an incredible miraculous design that two cells create a human being. I’m forever in awe of the design and creation of nature. An acorn never grows into a fir tree; it always becomes an oak tree!
There is intelligence behind the design for all living things, human beings included.
Human beings are designed to think. Your mind is designed to clear – if you let it? Each of us bring to life different Thoughts about the very same things. You in effect play a film (story) of how you personally see the world (inside out) in any given moment. Thought is transitory and fluid in nature.
You create your own unique separate realities via the power of Thought. You are not your Thoughts; just the thinker of your Thoughts, you are so much more than your Thoughts.
The stories you tell yourself, the film you play about a particular area of your life is a manifestation of the power of Thought brought to life by the power of Consciousness.
Now I can see, whilst preparing the Scotland National Squad for the Commonwealth Games 2014, my experience would have varied considerably about the same external factors due to the Thoughts I entertained – at times I played a horror movie and at other times a wee fairy tale.
You can choose to sabotage a meeting/event with insecure, fearful thinking by going all out to prove your point, that you’re right. You can try hard to convince or seek approval of others but does this ‘state of mind’ lend itself to high levels of productivity?
Or you can simply recognize that you’ve got caught up in personal thinking, let it settle and connect with your innate wisdom, the source of invaluable insights and continue with an effortless ease and clarity of mind.
You have the free will to play whatever film you like, sad or happy, excited or frustrated, innovative or threatened, about every life circumstance, or situation.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting you put up with a damaging circumstance, but an understanding that your experience of it, is coming from you, and not from out there, may just give you enough clarity for insight to shine through and transform the situation. When the clouds (Thought) clear the sun is always shining.
You’ll no longer feel stuck, limited and restricted as a victim of circumstances or conditions. Instead you’ll feel the freedom to use the gift of Thought wisely and unleash your inner genius into the world. You’ll be an amazing leader of your own life, influencing those around you to do the same.
I absolutely loved this interview with Oprah Winfrey on career, life and leadership; she speaks beautifully to the point of mastering who and what you are as a human being, connecting with your true self, in order to simply BE in the world.
Before you click on the link, here’s chance for some personal reflection:
- What sort of film do you play about yourself, or work?
- How does your story make you feel?
- Can you recognize some habitual responses to situations?
- How solid therefore is your view of the circumstance?
- Is it blocking your capacity for insights?
- Does this get in the way of effective team dynamics?
- Can you see when others simply get lost in Thought?
I hope you’ve enjoyed this article, if it has resonated with you, and you’d like to talk about performance coaching to raise levels of productivity, innovation and effectiveness in your organisation, get in touch and we’ll arrange a time to speak.
Wishing you clarity to always perform at your best.
PS. Feel free to share this article, I hate to see people struggling with life. You never know, it may just help someone unlock their amazing potential and make a real and sustainable difference to our modern evolving world.