Ever wonder why some people get hired and promoted sooner than others—or just seem to have things fall into place? While hard work, talent and a bit of good timing (or luck) may play a part, what else gives these folks that upper hand?
The confidence connection
Experts point to confidence as a key ingredient in giving successful people an edge in reaching their goals. Confident people are more likely to look for opportunities and ask for what they feel they deserve. If you’re not feeling that kind of self-esteem, here are three ways—all from clients’ real-life stories–that might help!
· Trust your compliments
Mary habitually dismissed or downplayed compliments she received. “It’s just my job,” she’d say when coworkers praised her efficiency or knack for saving costs. Through our coaching conversations, Mary began to see that each time she belittled the praise given to her, she deprived herself of a feel-good lift. Worse, in the short-term, she sent a subliminal message to the people that they shouldn’t compliment her. In fact, she noticed that one colleague who had been the most vocal with admiration, had stopped praising her.
What turned it around for Mary? She simply started answering compliments with a simple “Thank you”—period. No arguing or forcing a return compliment. “Just saying ‘thank you’ has made me feel more competent and deserving—just happier,” Mary shared. She allowed herself to believe others’ verbal applause!
· Focus on focus
Sarah felt she was hardwired to handle several tasks at a time; and proud of the fact that she could watch her toddler, conduct business on her iPhone and prep dinner all at the same time. But Sarah also had stomach pains; and she woke in the wee hours of the morning. Through some soul searching, Sarah realized that her determination to multitask all the time was a major stressor in her life. The realization wasn’t immediate. She had to look hard and honestly, journal and rethink. She realized that more often than not, no one task had her full attention. She often had to repeat several steps to finish a task or project. In a nutshell, she was less efficient, more frustrated, and less confident.
Sarah challenged herself to go slow with focus on one thing at a time. She delegated specific times to check emails and return calls. She carved out time with her toddler without other distractions. She had a dedicated workspace and wore earplugs when figuring out family finances or doing business paperwork. She developed a new mantra that boosted her efficiency and overall confidence, “Two tasks half done are inept compared to one task completed!”
· Have faith in your intuition
In his career (and life) decisions, Dennis tended to weigh all his options—over and over. The back-and-forth was unsettling. It took a lot of his energy without any comparable benefit. According to a University College of London study, people tend to do better who don’t think too hard; but instead go with their gut. It turns out that your subconscious brain needs almost no time to process all of your experiences that relate to a particular circumstance (Dennis agonized over which job offer to take, or whether to tweak his resume just once more) – and come up with a smart course of action. Dragging out the process seldom leads to better results.
We coached around his narrowing his options down to two, setting a time limit of ten minutes to weigh the pros and cons, and then letting his instinct be the tiebreaker! After several months of doing this, Dennis said he felt more confident with decision-making and in general.
· Bonus tip: Close your eyes
Experts say that if you can visualize yourself succeeding at a tough challenge (asking for a raise; giving a presentation), you’re more likely to accomplish the goals in real life.
Opportunities don’t just pop out for some and not others. I would argue that neither does confidence. It can be sharpened, recognized and savored!
Photo: Daniel Pink