1. Body power! Act bravely on the outside, even if you’re trembling on the inside. Harvard professor and social psychologist Amy Cuddy suggests standing in a ‘power or winners pose’ for one minute (think Wonder Woman or Superman) to help project an air of total self-confidence.   Current research shares how stretching your arms wide even for 60 seconds, increase your levels of testosterone (giving us that competitive edge) and reduces your cortisol (linked to our survivor’s brain of fight or flight), helping you to feel more powerful.
  2. Banish ’imposter syndrome’. Everyone has moments of self-doubt in their job, thinking that someone is going to suddenly find them out or expose them as a fraud. The trick is to turn these negative self-doubting voices off inside your head by making a mental checklist of what you are good at, by recalling times when you did succeed, remembering the positive comments from clients, colleague or friends and family, or just telling those negative voices to ‘shut up’!
  3. Stop being a perfectionist – often, good enough is good enough. We can sometimes set our own personal bar so high that we can never really succeed.  Rather than aiming for 100% ask yourself what would 80% or 85% or 90% look like?  Carol Dweck, best known for talking about having a Growth Mindset, found that in children if they were told ‘well done’ or that they were ‘clever’ dissuaded them from doing any more, or trying harder.  Pushing ourselves to find perfection, removes the opportunities to learn from our experiences and mistakes, and for us to be open to positive or constructive feedback.
  4. Acknowledge your strengths. Try to find ways of sharing these with other people rather than focusing on your shortcomings. For example, if you have great organisational skills, why not volunteer to arrange your next team-building event? Self-confidence will flourish when you share your talents with other people who appreciate them.
  5. Try not to care so much about what others think of you. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realised how seldom they do.”  To demonstrate this, in 2000 a Cornell professor did an experiment asking students to wear a Barry Manilow T-shirt at college to gauge their thoughts on how often others noticed them.  The T-shirt wearers believed that half their fellow students had spotted them wearing the embarrassing garment, when the reality was about 25% even noticed them.  The spotlight effect has us believe we are the centre of everyone’s attention, we believe we can read the minds of others and can feel judged by our public appearance.  However, when we stop focusing on our negative behaviour, so will others.
  6. Celebrate and document your successes. Take stock of all your achievements, and keep a note of these, along with any positive feedback you receive. Think of this as your Ta-dah list celebrating your successes, no matter how small.  It can be all too easy to forget what we’ve personally accomplished, so having them written down somewhere means you can look back on them on the days when you’re not feeling on top of your game. Allowing yourself to be proud of your achievements, no matter how small, is a strong foundation for building your self-esteem, it also taps into those lovely positive chemicals of endorphins (which reduces stress and improve your mood) and dopamine (our pleasure and reward)
  7. Do something scary. One sure-fire way to gain more confidence is to push yourself to your limits. Whenever we encounter something new or different in our lives, it can appear daunting, and fear and self-doubt are natural reactions. But stepping outside your comfort zone into our stretch zone to try something new, can reveal skills and abilities you never thought you possessed, which in turn will naturally boost your confidence. Start small – it could be as simple as making a pitch or presentation in a meeting or plucking up the courage to speak to someone you admire at a networking event. You’ll probably feel uneasy at first but remember: it will get easier over time.
  8. Surround yourself with positivity. Spend time with people who believe in you and your abilities, and who can motivate and support you. We all need cheerleaders in our lives to keep us going when we doubt ourselves.  And even better if these people have a more positive outlook on life, as we know that mirror neurons in our bodies encourage us to mimic those around us.  And finally, be more positive yourself – try smiling to help put others at ease, take time to connect with your body and away from your head, and check what messages are secretly sharing about your positive (or negative) state of mind.
  9. Notice your breath. When you’re in a scary situation or feeling self-conscious, you can often feel the signs of stress – shortness of breath, hot or cold cheeks, sweaty hands and a whole tirade of negative internal chatter.  That is our old survivor brain kicking in where we automatically go into fight, flight, or freeze.  One way of getting away from our negative mindset is to breathe – simply breathe.  Notice your breath, feel your chest rising, and aim to move your breath lower into your stomach, notice the speed of your breath and aim to slow it down a little bit more. By taking a few mindful breaths will help to slow down your stress response and help you to relax and tap into your success brain.
  10. Put things into perspective. If a situation or feeling is becoming overwhelming, and you’re starting to lose confidence in yourself, take a few minutes to put it into context. How does it compare to what else is happening out there in the big wide world? What would your best friend or other half say about the situation?  If a stranger was in your shoes, what would they notice or feel differently from you? Or ask yourself, what will be the key learning or opportunity that comes from going through this – something you’d have not discovered otherwise.  By looking for other perspectives we remove our assumption of one bad outcome, by exploring what other possibilities there could actually be.

If you’d like to explore how else to build your confidence within your role as a leader – whether facing new challenges, difficult conversations, or limiting beliefs – then why not book a free one-hour sample coaching session with me today.