Self confidence can best be defined as self assurance; freedom from doubt and a belief in yourself and your abilities.
We all feel more confident in some situations than in others and it is perfectly normal to doubt your abilities when trying out something completely new. However, a lack of confidence becomes a problem when “normal” self-doubt translates into fear and avoidance.
Most people would feel nervous and a little apprehensive in a new situation; for example when presenting to a group of people for the first time.
When Sally; a normally confident, outgoing person, had to present to customers for the first time she initially felt quite nervous. Then she reminded herself that she understood the topic (so could be confident of the content of the presentation), asked a more experienced colleague for some tips and spent extra time preparing to compensate for her nervousness. On the day she tried to appear confident in order to give the audience confidence in her. After the presentation Sally asked for feedback and learned from the experience. A few months on and Sally is now a confident presenter.
Emily, on the other hand, whilst bubbly and outgoing, would describe herself as lacking in confidence. When she was asked to present at a conference her lack of confidence took her into panic mode. She talked herself down and decided that she couldn’t possibly do it. Every time she tried to prepare her mind became a whirl of negativity and she found it impossible to concentrate. However, she was so concerned about how it might look that she didn’t tell anyone or ask for any help. On the day Emily’s anxiety overcame her and she phoned in sick. A colleague had to present at short notice and as Emily had not prepared didn’t even have slides to work from. The outcome served only to reinforce Emily’s lack of confidence and to chip away at her self esteem.
So what’s the difference between Sally and Emily?
Confident people, like Sally, have learned to take risks and to work hard in order to achieve the desired result. They are not afraid to ask for help and they learn from their own experiences – good and bad.
People who lack confidence, like Emily, prefer to stay in their comfort zones and avoid risks at all costs. They are so concerned about what people might think that it determines their behaviour; they don’t ask for help, cover up their mistakes and avoid failure by sticking with what they know.
So which are you? Would you like to learn how to be more confident? Perhaps you would like to attend one of our Boosting your Confidence and Self Esteem courses to learn the behaviours. Or maybe you would prefer to work one to one with a coach or therapist. Are you already confident? Please share your tips and techniques for overcoming fear on our blog.