A Confidence Workout by Leadership Guru & Author Eve Poole
Eve Poole is a constant source of inspiration to me.
Eve teaches and writes about leadership and character, and how to curate a development journey that genuinely makes you job-ready for the big stuff. Her approach – leadersmithing – is about rediscovering the craft of leading through daily practice, and about the practical skills needed to develop mastery. It’s a real honour to welcome her on the blog with this empowering confidence workout. I know it will resonate with you all.
When I’m in a tight spot, I like to channel The Princess Diaries as my inspiration. Do you remember the scene in the movie when she’s reading the letter her father wrote to her before he died? She’s having a crisis, and his letter reminds her that there are some things that are more important than fear. That’s brilliant, isn’t it? There are some things that are more important than fear.
But I bet you, like me, have days where you feel you aren’t quite up to the task, and are bound to get found out at any minute. And the fear can be paralysing. So what steps can you take to invest in your confidence, so you have more of it to draw on when you’re feeling wobbly? Here is my 5 point plan to make you a star!
(1) True You
Let’s start at the beginning. Knowing who you are gives you a ‘true north’ you can turn back to when you feel disoriented. If you had to summarise yourself using just 3 words, what would they be? Don’t worry if it takes you a while to pick the really true ones, but try a few on for size until you get your perfect match. Let’s say you pick ‘loyal, lucky and fun’. When you next have butterflies waiting in a lift, or outside a door, or for a phonecall, try the ’10 breaths’ exercise. Listen to your breathing until it calms. Then ‘breathe in’ your words. For the first 3 breaths, say the first word to yourself; loyal, loyal, loyal. Then say the next one for the next 3: lucky, lucky, lucky. Next: fun, fun, fun. For your 10th breath, breathe them all in: loyal, lucky, fun. Now, give yourself a smile. And go for it!
(2) Your Brand Essence
In interaction, how you come across is actually more relevant than who you are. This sounds weird, but it’s because the people around you won’t necessarily ever get to know the true you, they just figure you out from the circumstances of the encounter. So it’s rather crucial to know how you tend to come across! Start by emailing 7 people whose opinion you value and who know you well. Ask them to send you back 3 words that describe you. What can you learn from the similarities and differences between them? How do they compare with your ‘true north’ words? Are there any words you didn’t like? Can you ask for feedback on why they sprang to mind, and how you might attract a word you prefer? If you are feeling brave, ask them why they chose their words for you, and for examples of times when your behaviour has exemplified them.
(3) Learning from your past
Find a piece of paper, and try to drawn your life like a timeline. Start by drawing a baseline across the middle of the paper from left to right. Then, starting from childhood, chart your life. Make the line go up when things were going well for you, and down when they weren’t. Then have a look at all the high points you have captured. What made them such highlights? What does that tell you about what is necessary for you to succeed? And what can you learn about your incredible resilience from all the bad times you have already managed to leave behind? What coping skills have you learned from your journey that you could plan to use for your next wobble? And can you learn from your past about the early warning signs you need to heed in the future?
(4) Designing out your fears
Now think about some of the goals you really want to achieve in life. What is currently standing between you and these goals? If any of them are about your fears, right down specifically what it is that you fear. Maybe it is a difficult conversation with someone? Or a skill you’d need to acquire? Or is it even how you look? Now try to break your fears down into baby steps. Is there something really small you could do in the next few days that would move you towards conquering these fears? Then what could you try? And what next? Then all of a sudden you’ll look round and find that you’ve arrived. Congratulations!
Imagine that, in the future, someone is writing an appreciation of your life for a school alumni magazine. What would you like them to notice about you? What do you feel proud of already, and what else would you like them to be able to include in their article? Are there achievements you’ve yet to make that you’d like to press on with now? Or current priorities that need to shift? Or precious relationships that need more of your attention? You can write your own future; you just need to start that now. And remember, you body is made from stardust, so you are designed to shine!