Confidence is at the heart of effective performance. But when setbacks or failures occur at work, our confidence often buckles. Internal voices of self-doubt are amplified and tell us we are no good, which starts of a vicious negative spiral of low self-confidence, poor performance and critical feedback.
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We have found that focusing on one’s strengths can be a powerful way to help maintain confidence in the face of adversity and setbacks, ensuring you maximise your potential and career success. Here are several practical ways you can put this into action:
1. Identify and focus on your personality and performance strengths.
The best way to do this is to identify and reflect on “defining moments” in your career, i.e., times when you felt particularly energised and performed at your peak. What did you learn about yourself and your strengths from these occasions? What type of work do you find really energising and confidence-boosting? How can you secure more or this type of work in your current job or elsewhere?
2. Build new skills that build on your strengths and will help you achieve your next job or career goals.
There are numerous ways to build new skills, including signing up for a training course, finding other people who can teach you, self-study options, on-the-job development etc.
3. Start understanding the unintended consequences of your strengths, what we refer to as “overplayed strengths”.
For example, one of my strengths is “courage”. Being courageous means I am prepared to challenge established ways of doing things and question the ideas and opinions of others in senior positions. However, earlier in my career, I was far too eager to directly and aggressively challenge established views and assumptions. This behaviour was perceived as reckless and even arrogant by others. One of my greatest strengths had gone into overdrive and become a potential weakness. Through understanding that my courage strength has an associated “darkside”, I have been able to build more positive routines that enable me to use it in a more situationally sensitive way. This has left me feeling far more confident about my courage strength and myself.
4. Every time you experience negative self-doubt or are tempted into inaction, think about the opportunities and benefits of channelling your energy more positively.
Amplify your positive self-talk and do something to change your situation. Remember that most success is not built overnight. It take concerted effort, disciplined execution and finally, decisive action to grab “Lady Luck” firmly with both hands.
Finally, remember the quote of the famous mountaineer and first man to reach the summit of Mount Everest, Edmund Hillary: “It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves”. If you can amplify your inner voices of strength and possibility, your self-criticism will be silenced or overpowered and your confidence will grow significantly as a result.