The magic confidence formula…

  • Submitted on 12 August 2014

“I wish I could buy some more confidence!” my friend said when she was contemplating starting her own business. She felt terrified and not very sure of her ability and chances of success.

I didn’t say anything then, but it reminded me of feelings that arise every time I want to do anything new outside my comfort zone. I delude myself that once I feel more confident I will start. And then nothing seems to happen!

In fact “lack of confidence” is a common excuse of mine.  Along with having no spare time and not enough money.  I also use “being there for my kids” as a great excuse for not proceeding on a scary goal.

As a coach, I should know better. But it took reading The Confidence Gap by Dr Russ Harris to remember that it is not lack of confidence that is delaying new action - it is the discomfort of change.  Doing anything out of the usual brings up uncomfortable, anxious feelings.

The most helpful insight from this book is that doing something new will CREATE CONFIDENCE rather than waiting for more confidence to proceed.

To take action before feeling confident requires managing negative inner thoughts.  For me, nervousness shows up as a voice inside my head that shouts:
“This won’t work…”
“I won’t succeed…”
I’m too tired and not in the mood...”

Dr Russ says that negative thoughts are normal and to be expected.  These thoughts are part of an ancient self-protective mechanism wanting to preserve the status quo, to keep us inside well-known territory.  

The simple formula suggested in “The Confidence Gap” is:

~ Notice the thoughts

Identify negative thoughts by observing closely. Say to yourself “I notice I am having the thought that…” This provides a small distance from the thought and reduces its power. Ask yourself “Is that thought I am having helpful or unhelpful?”

~ Neutralize the thoughts

Dr Russ offers the hilarious suggestion of repeating any unhelpful thoughts with a high-pitched singsong voice, or to sing them as words to the happy birthday song. This takes the sting out of the thought.

The magic confidence formula for taking new action is “to name it - is to tame it” Every new step will build confidence. Allow the thoughts, befriend and acknowledge them – and keeping walking in the direction of you dreams!

And enlist the help of a fabulous coach…who undoubtedly may feel unconfident at times too.