Confidence, or lack thereof, is one of the main elements that holds people back. Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to thrive and reach the highest potential in our personal and professional lives if our self-confidence is low.
It determines whether we control our agenda and our time. It affects our ability to say no when we need to. For instance, determining your fees and earnings comes down to how confident you are.
Despite being a key life element, self-confidence is usually shrouded in misunderstandings and misconceptions.
When asked how confident they are, most people answer: “Well, fairly confident.”
But, when faced with certain circumstances, such as giving a speech or presentation or attending a party, some say they no longer feel confident.
Self-confidence seems situational i.e. a situation determines how high or low your confidence feels.
“Fake it till you make it” is a popular saying, especially on social media. The idea is that you can “fake” it through life (develop imagined confidence) to propel you to success.
But, the concept can have the opposite effect when applied to self-confidence. It can lead to imposter syndrome. If you’re telling the outside world one thing, but feel completely different inside, cracks start to appear in your confidence.
Your internal integrity metre knows it to be false i.e. you’re not being authentic.
If you continue long enough trying to fake it until you make it, you find yourself having to wear different masks all day and every day. That voice inside your head continues to chatter away, highlighting the difference that you’re not being authentic or living with integrity.
As a result, your self-confidence levels go even lower. It’s much better to build your self-confidence rather than faking it. It helps you authentically and with integrity.
First, let’s correct a fundamental misunderstanding among many people. The majority confuse competence with confidence.
Competence is our ability to do something successfully, whereas confidence is our feeling or belief about ourselves. Each stands on three pillars which we’ll get to below.
Competence stands on three key pillars, namely:
For each task or role in your life, there are skills you need to develop, knowledge you need to gain and putting those two into practice yields experience.
For example, to give an effective speech, you need to develop skills such as stagecraft, body language control, technical know-how to use presentation software on a laptop and microphone management skills.
You also need to develop subject matter knowledge, structure your talk, and even be able to read an audience.
Your competence in giving a speech will be low initially and grow as you deliver more speeches. That’s where experience comes into play. No matter how much confidence someone has, their confidence offers little advantage without competence in the task/role.
Confidence stands on three pillars, namely:
1. Self-belief is that inner knowing that you can achieve whatever you put your mind to. It’s not arrogance. It’s a deep inner knowing. You know deep down that no matter what, you’ll achieve the results you desire.
2. Self-love is how you look after yourself. We can also refer to it as self-care and encompasses the three elements of mind, body and soul. Proper self-care involves looking after all the three elements and not one.
Self-care is also about protecting yourself and what you allow others to do to you through their words or actions.
3. Self-worth involves how much you value yourself regardless of what others think, do or say. If you don’t feel much value or benefit to others, you put a lower value on yourself.
Now, self-worth is an inner feeling. It’s not an outward feeling. For instance, when setting prices, people with high self-worth tend to price their services or products fairly, while low-self-worth individuals underprice themselves.
Let’s use public speaking as an example. Most people report giving a speech as one of their highest fears. However, their fear has nothing to do with self-confidence; it’s more about competence.
They know how to talk and have a conversation, but they are not competent at having a conversation on stage.
Public speaking is about having a conversation with your audience.
Giving a speech is a skill you can learn, just like walking, cycling or driving a car. It just requires practice.
Secondly, we all have different roles in life, such as husband/wife, employee/employer, father/mother, etc. And as a business owner or an employee, you too will have different responsibilities.
We need to become competent in different areas for each of those roles and responsibilities that we fulfill. Take the role of a parent, for instance. It requires competence in various skills such as looking after a newborn, feeding them, dressing and comforting them. You have to take care of them until they become independent teenagers.
Each stage in life requires different skills. And yet, there is no individualised parenting handbook. Even if there was, it never adequately prepares you for the parenting roller coaster. You learn through experience.
As the next child arrives, your skills have already developed. You’re more competent to feed, clothe, comfort and handle them.
As you become more competent, your confidence soars too because confidence follows competence
To build self-confidence, understand the difference between competence and confidence. Whichever role you need to play in life, develop the skills and competence first; confidence will follow.
The three pillars of competence are skills, knowledge, and experience, whereas, for confidence, the three pillars are self-belief, self-love, and self-worth.
What elements do you need to develop under each of these pillars?