What Does Being Confident Mean For You?
Confidence is a word that comes up fairly regularly during my work with clients.
Sometimes it has a positive basis, other times not so much, and statements can vary …
“I’ve lost my confidence.”
“I’m not confident enough to take on this new role.”
“My success with this has renewed my self confidence.”
“I’m feeling really confident right now!”
Rather than simply accept the statement as it is, I’m always tempted to ask … “What do you mean by ‘confident’ (or ‘confidence’)?” since experience has shown me that how one person defines confidence is not the same as another person. Defining this will help the other person be really clear about what they’re saying, so that they’re more informed about what’s going on for them, and when identifying appropriate actions/next steps.
It’s useful to think about the context here too.
In the statements above, each person has a specific context in mind when they’re stating their belief about their confidence.
- The 1st and 4th examples sound more general, although will have some context attached, even if it’s perceived as broad by the speaker
- The 2nd is about a particular role at work
- Whilst the 3rd statement relates to a particular success the person has experienced.
As someone who lacked confidence in many situations, usually around others, during my childhood and early career, I can speak from experience! (Read more about my experiences here). What became really clear to me at the time were the unhelpful things I was saying to myself, and how I talked myself into achieving success. This raised my confidence.
Now the essence of confidence for me is about being comfortable in my own skin. It’s not about being extrovert, or being the centre of attention, or the life and soul of the party … it’s more of a quiet confidence, more self-assured. This ‘comfortable in my own skin’ definition is quite a general, all-encompassing one, and applies in many situations. I could break this down further and say that comfortable in my own skin for me means:
- I don’t waste time worrying about what others might think, or
- I know I’m as prepared as I can be, or
- I’m going to be me, and learn from the experience afterwards.
So how do you define confidence? Does it differ depending on the situation?
Here are some more questions to ask, when you hear yourself making statements about your confidence:
- “What specifically do I mean by ‘confident’ here?” (or other confidence-related word or phrase you’ve used)
- “What context (or contexts) apply here?”
- “What evidence is there to support my statement about my confidence?”
- “How could I more helpfully define ‘confidence’ for myself?”
- “What will I be thinking, feeling, doing and saying when I’m confident?”
Finally, remember that your definition of confidence and the contexts in which this applies will probably change and evolve as your confidence grows. So it’s useful to keep coming back to this question on a regular basis.
I’m Debbie Inglis, a performance coach, mentor and trainer, working across the UK and Internationally with Heads, Principals, School leaders and their teams to maximise leadership performance, create more effective, confident, and motivated teams … in a way that brings out the best in them.