Have you ever been in a stressful situation at work where you need to deliver something on a deadline, yet you just can’t seem to move forward?
Where the pressure of hitting a specific target has become so large that you feel completely paralysed?
These are situations that as leaders we’ll all inevitably face at some point in our careers, so the question is how do we overcome these?
Firstly, we need to recognise that the common denominator in many of these situations is a lack of confidence and belief in our own abilities.
We are concerned with not achieving the result we want, and this lack of belief in ourselves creates a sense of paralysis.
However, we have developed a model to help restore that sense of confidence in situations where we need it most:
Confidence = self-belief over doubt.
Put simply this means, if our self-belief is greater than our doubt, we’re confident. If our doubt is greater than our self-belief, we lack confidence.
Now simply looking at that you would think there were two ways to build confidence.
- Increase your self-belief
- Reduce your doubt
However in my view, this is actually a myth, in order to increase confidence, we do not need to reduce doubt. In fact, doubt is something that we should embrace. Doubt can help protect us, create a sense of humility, and also keeps our feet firmly on the ground. Doubt is a constant, that will essentially always be there – however our experience of it – is impacted by our level of self-belief.
Imagine holding a glass sphere, and injecting two types of gas into it – a green gas which equals belief, and a red gas which equals doubt.
If we inject one-third red gas (doubt) but two-thirds green gas (belief), what would the sphere look like? We’ll see more green gas than red gas.
But if we were to remove part of the green gas (belief), then the red gas (doubt) would expand to fill the space. So essentially, our doubt expands to fill the void left by a lack of self-belief.
The reality is, as leaders if we lose too much of that sense of self-belief, we can create a sense of paralysis in the mind. This is how we get into situations where we find we can’t make decisions anymore, we don’t know how to move forward or we feel trapped.
Whenever we are speaking to a senior executive who is in this position, we always ask this series of questions:
- Have you been here before? Have you ever in your life been in a situation where you felt trapped, where you couldn’t move forward?
- How did you get out of this?
Once people start talking about previous situations, realising that they have in fact been in similar situations, and have managed to move past them simply by taking action (and building confidence along the way), it is easier to help them rebuild that sense of belief.
Ultimately, the key to being confident is remembering to continue to inject that green gas – self-belief. While doubt will always be there, it is our self-belief that prevents it from totally consuming us.
I talk about overcoming doubt in more detail in the video below – if building confidence is something that you have struggled with in work environments, take 10 minutes to watch it now.