Posts Tagged ‘confidence’

The 12 Stress Less Days to Christmas: Day 5

December 17, 2012

Day #5: Wear Your Confidence Coat!

iStock_000008122926XSmallAs you add the required layers to ensure you’re warm enough this winter, make sure you’re also wearing your ‘Confidence Coat’ at the start of each day.

This isn’t about giving yourself an excuse to go shopping! It’s about making a conscious decision to give yourself an extra confidence boost so you’re more capable of dealing with the season’s additional pressures.


When we’re feeling confident, we have more energy, are able to deal with difficult situations more easily, and we improve our ability to be resilient.

Wearing your confidence coat will mean different things for each of us. For example, it might be about smiling more, or being more assertive.

In ‘Want more confidence in the workplace?’ I suggest a few ideas for building confidence. Or you might like to look at ‘Are you making the most of who you are?’ for more ideas and how to gain useful feedback to increase confidence levels.

How does your ‘confidence coat’ make you look to others?

What’s your Personal Best?

September 17, 2012

Just over a week ago the closing ceremony for the Paralympics drew to a close what’s been an amazing run of success stories for athletes this summer from across the globe – both from the Olympics and the Paralympics.

Many world records were broken and many personal bests were achieved.

But you don’t have to be an athlete to achieve a Personal Best!

It could be argued that many of the 70,000 volunteers and Games Makers, who helped make both Olympics such a success, achieved ‘personal bests’ in the services they provided, such as the example of greater confidence in the previous link.

Personal bests can be achieved in a whole range of areas …

What’s the best conversation you’ve had with a colleague or friend?

What’s the best lesson you’ve taught or best bit of 1-1 tuition you’ve done?

What’s the best conference you’ve organised or meeting you’ve ever run?

What’s the best bit of mentoring or coaching you’ve done?

I’m sure you can think of other areas where you can recall your personal best.

So, why were they your best moments? How do you know – what’s your evidence?

One Head teacher I’ve worked with identified the following elements of a successful meeting with her SLT:

  • knowing what was to be achieved from the meeting
  • clarity and understanding of issues from all
  • enabling and facilitating everyone to have a voice
  • encouraging creativity
  • ensuring conclusions and next steps are identified by all (taking ownership)
  • identifying clear strategies for communication of outcomes to all staff

What would your’s be? 

Once you’ve considered personal bests in a range of areas, are there common strengths underlying each one? How can you replicate these common skills in other areas to achieve more personal bests?

The nature of personal bests mean that there’s always the potential to beat them, either by changing some equipment you are using or by changing / tweaking your actions.

What personal best will you achieve this week?


Taking on a leadership role this autumn? (Part 3)

August 27, 2012

In this 3rd and final part of the current ‘Taking on a leadership role …’ series, the focus is on confidence.

3. Confidence

So, how ready are you, and how confident do you currently feel about your upcoming leadership role? Give yourself a score out of 10, with 10 being most confident…

In a previous blog  – Want more confidence in the workplace? – I suggested some tips to give yourself a confidence boost at work. In addition to those more general tips, for a confident start to your leadership role, I add the following.

I often find that confidence comes from knowing what to do and from experiencing the ‘do-ing’! So …

  • Know what you want to do with your role (get clarity)
  • Know what you expect from others and communicate this clearly
  • Know what others want. What do your team members need to do their job effectively?
    • Ideas / resources / time to talk through their concerns?
    • Mentoring / coaching / training?
    • By setting aside a few minutes each week in the first few weeks to identify staff needs, you can address these quickly. Even if you aren’t able to provide for everyone’s needs, you can at least tell them why, and they’ll hopefully respect you for it. It shows you’re listening and doing what you can.
  • Know how to create opportunities for early wins, for yourself as well as relevant stakeholders. Building on this success helps build confidence – both in yourself and others’ confidence in you!
  • Know that it’s OK for things not to go according to plan – you can make adjustments and get back on track. Learning from these types of situations increases experience, which builds confidence.

If you scored yourself less than 7/10 earlier, try some of the confidence building strategies suggested above.

These are only a few suggestions.

  • What others can you think of?
  • If you have some leadership experience already, how have you ensured a confident start to that role?


Are you making the most of who you are? (Part 2)

August 24, 2011

In Part 1 we set the scene for making lists of your skills, strengths and personal qualities. I also introduced an exercise to provide you with external feedback.

So what did you find?

  • Were there common strengths that crossed over different areas of your life?
  • Were there strengths, skills or qualities that others recognised in you, which you had on your list too?
  • Were there any surprises?
  • Has this boosted your confidence in any areas?

Interpreting the results from the ‘Ask 6 People …’ exercise

So, hopefully you gained a range of responses from this. Here’s what to do with them …

1. Look for common trends / themes – perhaps more than one person said the same thing, or there were different comments but around a common theme. How can you use this to enhance or support your own list of skills / strengths?

For example, sometimes this exercise can highlight a skill others notice in you, which you don’t see as a strength … “It’s just the norm; it’s what I usually do” … are examples of how people have responded to this outcome. Changing your perception of this area as a strength can be a good confidence booster. It can also provide you with a further area to make the most of!

2. Be aware that the odd negative comment by a family member might be more about their agenda than yours. For example, a parent / sibling may say you don’t visit often enough.

3. Look at areas where you can stretch yourself. Perhaps, for example, there’s a comment that you are good at leading meetings at work, and could be even better if you just had a bit more confidence.

4. Where people have suggested what you could do less of (question 4), is this something you can delegate?

As Ellen Degeneres once said, “sometimes you can’t see yourself clearly until you see yourself through the eyes of others.” This exercise is good for highlighting this, but needs to be acknowledged alongside your own observations. So let’s turn to these.

Interpreting your list of strengths, from different areas of your life

For each item on your list, ask yourself how often you get the opportunity to show / use this. Are you satisfied with this, or could you find more opportunities?

Example 1: If your time management at work is good, could you transfer this skill-set to your home-life (or vice versa) ?

Example 2: If you’re good at writing or being creative, how often do you have time to do this? Is it enough? How else could you maximise it? Could you offer to do some writing for someone else in return for them providing something you need (skills-swap) ?

There may be some strengths, skills or qualities you have which you don’t want to do more of, as these would be more about meeting others’ needs and ignoring your own. Be mindful of these.

Philosopher Bertrand Russell said, “anything you’re good at contributes to happiness“. So what other benefits do we find when we make the most of what we’re good at? When I apply this exercise to myself the outcomes for me are:

  • I feel more confident
  • I have a more positive outlook
  • I am more motivated / more productive
  • I have more energy

For me, maximising my potential is also about developing myself, as well as others. It’s about a level of self-awareness about my personal strengths and knowing what my emerging strengths are that I could further develop. I then use this knowledge to set appropriate goals.

What are the benefits you’ve found from this exercise, or maximising your potential in other ways?

Would love to hear your thoughts / experiences. Feel free to comment below.

(Photo credit: Kongsky)

Are you making the most of who you are? (Part 1)

August 17, 2011

I often hear, and have used, the phrase “maximising your potential” in the context of personal and professional development.

But what does it mean in practice?

From your perspective …

In order to make the most of who you are, you need to recognise what you have; your skills, strengths, qualities, etc.

How often do we do this? During training events and coaching sessions, when I ask people to list their strengths, they often find this difficult. Lack of practice? Lack of awareness? The concern about not wanting to appear big-headed? Once you get started though, it’s surprising how your list grows! And there’s nothing wrong with celebrating your talents, successes and achievements. In fact it’s very healthy!

When building your list of skills / strengths, it helps to break it down into different areas of your life:

Work – e.g. reliable, organised, time-keeping, leading meetings

Family – e.g. ability to juggle many tasks, decision-making, organisation, creativity

Friends – e.g. trustworthy, honest, reliable, spending time with them

Hobbies & interests – e.g. running, cooking, playing a musical instrument

Some skills / strengths may cross over into more than one area, as you can see from the examples above.

Have fun making up your lists! We’ll come back to these in Part 2.

From others’ perspectives …

Other people often see us in a different light to how we see ourselves; they recognise positive qualities and strengths that we don’t necessarily see.

Finding out our strengths from others is a good way to top up our own list. You could also ask yourself, “What would (my close friend) say I’m good at?”; which could elicit a few more items for your list!

A useful task I’ve used before to gain feedback from others is “Ask 6 People 6 Questions”. Here’s how it works …

1. Make a list of at least* 6 people from different areas of your life (work, family, friends, clubs, associations, etc). The more varied the better; it will give you a good cross-section of responses and potentially more strengths / qualities / skills. Make sure they are people you believe will give you an honest response to your questions, and not just say what they think you want to hear.

*Thinking of more than 6 helps if some people you ask don’t have time.

2. Provide them with a list of the following questions:

  • What am I good at?
  • When have you seen me at my best?
  • What should I do more of?
  • What should I do less of?
  • What can you rely on me for?
  • Where do you think I can stretch myself?

They are suitably vague and non-leading. Encourage your responders to answer the questions as fully as they can.

3. If they (or you) want the responses to be anonymous, you could ask a trusted friend / colleague if the responses could be emailed (or posted) to them. The friend will then collate the responses and send you them, with names omitted. I usually find people don’t want / need to do this, but it’s entirely up to you. Do what works best.

Some of these questions may give you responses that highlight areas that you see as ‘weaknesses’. We’ll come back to this in Part 2, when I will look at interpreting the results from this exercise, as well as what to do with the lists you have devised for yourself.

In the meantime, make a note of the things you do well over the coming week, and make sure these things are somewhere on your lists. Also listen out for positive feedback from others. Does this reflect a skill / strength you’ve so far omitted?

(Photo credit: Danilo Rizzuti)

Want more confidence in the workplace?

February 21, 2011

28 Day Blog Challenge – Day 21

What builds confidence at work?

  • self belief?
  • positive feedback?
  • achieving success?
  • having clear focus and direction?

How much do you enjoy what you do, and how much of that is a reflection of your confidence levels at work?

Results from my recent Goal Setting Survey showed that just over 20% of respondents are setting their goals for 2011 in the area of building confidence in the workplace.

Confidence is about feeling comfortable in your own skin, believing in your abilities, and knowing that you can cope with whatever comes your way in a calm and measured way. It comes from being motivated, sticking with your values and principles, and finding your passion.

If you find yourself needing to build confidence at work, here are a few tips to get you started…

Being specific

“Building confidence at work” is a very general statement and quite vague when it comes to deciding what action to take. So be specific. Think about which particular areas of your work (or your working day) make you feel least confident. This will narrow the focus and make it more realistic to tackle.

Acting the part

Our body language, tone of voice and words often tell others how confident we are feeling. 55% of what you communicate face to face comes from your body language. So how would a more confident you look? Would you be standing taller, shoulders back, and weight distributed evenly? Look at others who you consider are confident – how do they communicate confidence through body language?

Ask for feedback

Some of our confidence comes from positive feedback, either from recognising in ourselves what we’ve done well, or from being told by others. It’s good to know how well we are doing, and if you aren’t getting feedback, perhaps it’s time to ask! Start with people whose opinions you trust and act positively on what you hear.

Also bear in mind here that you could look in a range of areas for your feedback, including customers / clients, not just peers and line managers.

Networking in the US

March 10, 2010

Have you ever wondered what networking in another country might be like?

How would you feel turning up to a meeting where you know no-one, in a country that was unfamiliar? Excited? Challenged? Nervous? I think I was all 3 when I recently visited a business networking group, whilst in holiday in Florida.

That’s me, front row, in the cream trousers! (The lovely lady in the jeans isn’t trying to run away, that was how she posed for the photo.)

When I network in the UK, there’s usually a goal or two in mind as I enter the room; I am there to make new contacts, raise others’ awareness of what I do, and develop strategic alliances where possible. On this occasion, I was curious to see how they did it ‘over the pond’, and how – if at all – it was any different to networking in the UK. I also enjoy taking myself out of my comfort zone from time to time, and trying new things. This was one of those occasions. I didn’t really know what to expect or what they’d make of me. As it turned out, they made me feel very welcome indeed and, as I’d planned ahead and found a contact from a group near to where I was staying (good old internet!), they were expecting me.

I am used to getting up between 5:30 and 6:15am to get to my local networking groups, which start anywhere from 6:30am. But this time (and I was on holiday!) I was afforded a lie-in, and didn’t need to be there until 8am. However, on that particular morning, there was a big thunderstorm, so I decided to leave earlier than I’d planned, so I could take my time driving. I had Satnav, but the rain was hitting the windscreen so hard and loud, that I couldn’t hear what the voice was saying. Luckily I am relatively good at map-reading and was able to navigate my way there by glancing at the screen occasionally.

When I arrived, I was met with – “So you must be Debbie!” – and from then on I felt quite relaxed. The meeting started with informal networking, coffee/juice, and saying hello to about half the 25 or so people there. Then we had a cooked breakfast (plus cereal and fruit) and did more formal networking. One of the members did a presentation about his car business, and did a great job. (He’s the gentleman in the front row next to me in the blue shirt.) I heard from everyone in the room, through a 60-seconds pitch, and realised I was the only coach in the room. I also had the opportunity to say who I was, where I was from, and what I did. A few people asked for my details, so we exchanged cards.

All in all, it was a business-like, yet relaxed affair, which I enjoyed, and gave me an extra confidence boost. I understand and believe that networking is about building relationships, and having made these contacts in Florida I will now be able to use the internet (and its variety of networking forums) to keep in touch and build those relationships even though I may not see them. In addition, this experience has put ‘networking abroad’ within my comfort zone, which means I will not think twice if given the opportunity to network abroad again. As far as the group dynamics were concerned, it wasn’t that different to networking in the UK, except there were more people from the Insurance and Real Estate businesses.

So “hi” to my new friends in Florida, thanks for your openness and enthusiasm, and the invite to return again in the future.

To everyone else, if you’re ever abroad and want to experience networking I would recommend it; plus I’d love to hear how you got on!