If there’s one thing that I find, and that’s confidence is one of the main elements that hold people back. And there’s a lot of miscommunication and misunderstanding about confidence, yet it is such a key element. If I was to ask you how confident are you, most people answer, “Well, fairly confident.” But then when they’re faced with certain circumstances, such as having to give a speech, or a presentation, or attend a party, then for some, they’ll say they don’t feel confident. This is where people refer to confidence as being situational, i.e., depending on the situation the person’s faced with will determine how high or how low their confidence will be.
Now, different situations will be different for different people and their confidence levels. They just don’t feel as confident in some situations than others. Yet it’s impossible to thrive and reach our highest potential in our personal and our professional life if our confidence is low. It impacts how visible we are and how visible we make ourselves to be. It determines whether we control our own agenda and our own time. It determines our ability to say no when we need to say no. As a business, our earnings or the fees that we charge will be absolutely in direct proportion to how confident we are. We don’t drive ourselves forward as much as others that are more confident. It literally touches every single aspect of our life.
And most people say “fake it until you make it”. Well, when it comes to confidence, this can have actually the opposite effect as it can lead to imposter syndrome. If we’re telling the outside world one thing, but yet we feel completely different on the inside, then this will lead to imposter syndrome. Your internal integrity metre knows it to be false. So therefore you’re not being authentic. So if you continue long enough trying to fake it until you make it, then you’ll find yourself having to wear different masks all day and every day. That voice inside your head will continue to chatter away, highlighting the fact and highlighting the difference that you’re not being authentic, that you’re not living with integrity. And therefore, it will lead to you feeling a lower level of self-confidence. It’s much better to build your own confidence rather than faking it. In this way, you’re being more authentic. You’re working with your own integrity.
So how do we build our own self-confidence? Well, let’s correct a fundamental misunderstanding that people have. The majority of people interpret competence with confidence. Let me explain. Competence is our ability to do something successfully, whereas confidence is our feeling or our belief about ourselves. Now, I’m going to outline the three pillars that make up competence and also the three pillars that make up confidence. But for now, let’s understand the big difference between the two labels, and how we can significantly affect each one of those labels very, very quickly.
So let’s take the example of giving a speech, which is reported as being one of the highest fears for people. And many of the people that I work with as clients will refer to the fact that they wouldn’t feel confident in giving a speech. This, however, is not down to confidence. It’s not down to a lack of confidence. It’s down to a lack of competence. They all know how to talk. So they’re competent in being able to talk and have a conversation. They just aren’t competent in talking on stage or having a conversation on stage. And that’s what public speaking is all about. Public speaking is about having a conversation with your audience.
Therefore, if we’re dealing with becoming more competent with talking on stage, then this is a skill that can be learned, just as when each person learned the skill of walking, or cycling, or driving a car, playing a musical instrument. It’s a skill that can be learned. Yet people hold themselves back because they’ve labelled it, as so many other people labelled them, as being low in confidence, when in fact it’s actually competence. And because they label themselves as being low in confidence, it results in them avoiding situations, which limits them achieving their highest potential. It’s not confidence. It’s competence.
Secondly, we all have different roles in life, such as husband/wife, employee/employer, father/mother, and so on. And as a business owner or an employee, you too will have different responsibilities. For each of those roles and responsibilities that we fulfil, we need to become competent in the different areas. If you take the role as being a father or a mother, this role will demand us to be competent in a multitude of skills, from looking after a newborn, from feeding them, dressing them, comforting them, how to even handle a newborn baby, to washing them, through to being a teenager. And we’ve got to change then into how to guide them, how to mentor them, how to coach them, how to discipline them, and even how to chauffeur them all around the place.
So each stage of their life requires different skills. And each aspect of our children’s lives require different skills as well. As much as we would love it, we’re not given a handbook with each of our children as they come along. Yet, as the next child arrives, our skills have already been developed, i.e, to feed them, to dress them, to comfort them, to handle them, to washing them. We get better. We become more competent in what it is that we need to do in order to look after a child. And as we get more competent, our belief in ourselves increases, and therefore we become more confident. You see, confidence follows competence. So whatever role that you’re operating in, whether it be in your personal life or in your professional life, there will be a suite of skills that you will need to develop in order for you to be fully competent in fulfilling that role.
Now let’s look at the three pillars that make up competence. And the three pillars are skills, knowledge, and experience. Now, if we take our example from earlier of giving a speech, there are skills that we need to develop, there’s the knowledge that we need to gain. And then we need to put into practice those skills and that knowledge in order to gain the experience, and therefore give us feedback so as to improve our competence in a particular area. So when it comes to giving a speech, there’ll be the skills of stagecraft, controlling our body language, using the presentation software and our laptops, and managing the microphone. There’s the knowledge that we need to gain such as knowledge on our subject matter, how to structure the speech to maximize audience engagement, or even how to handle questions, or what happens when our mind goes blank, and how do we read the audience. So there’s a number of different aspects of what we need to develop our knowledge in.
But our competence in giving a speech will still be very low until such time as we practice and deliver a speech. And the more we give speeches, i.e., the more experiences we get at giving speeches, then the more competent we become. A brain surgeon, if you take it, no matter how much skill and knowledge he or she has developed in the classroom, will be little competent until he or she is standing at a table with a live person in front of them, and they have to do brain surgery on them. That’s where experience comes into play. So no matter how much confidence a person has, without being competent in doing what they’re about to do to, their confidence will have very little advantage.
Also, when it comes to human behaviour, we tend to look up to people that are more confident, not necessarily in an admiration sense, but there will be something about that individual that will be appealing. We might even put it down to the person having charisma. On the other hand, some people will tend to look down on people that express a lower level of confidence, not necessarily in an arrogant way, but in a way that we won’t treat them as an equal, as they have a lower level of confidence than ourselves. You’ll see this play out in companies and with employees as ones that get promotion and others that don’t get promoted. So when it comes to competence, the three pillars are skills, knowledge, and experience.
Now, when it comes to confidence, there are also three pillars. And these are self-belief, self-love, and self-worth. Now, self-belief is that inner knowing that we can achieve whatever it is that we put our minds to. It’s not arrogance. It’s a deep inner knowing. We know that we can achieve the results that we want to achieve. We may not know how it’s going to get to be achieved, but we know we’re going to get there. No matter what, we’re going to get there, because we have that deep inner knowing, that deep inner belief about ourselves that whatever it is that we set our minds about, that we’re actually going to achieve it.
Now, self-love is how we look after ourselves. Now, when I’m working with male clients, I tend to have to change the word self-love to self-care. Taking care of ourselves covers three elements. It covers mind, body, and soul. It’s not just a case of looking after one of those elements. It’s looking after all of those elements. And another aspect of self-love is that if we don’t respect ourselves sufficiently, we will allow others to overpower us, either physically or emotionally, through their words or their actions and what that is that they do. Self-love is about looking after ourselves, both by ourselves, but also by what we allow others to do to ourselves. When you care for yourself, you look after yourself, you value yourself.
Self-worth, on the other hand, is how much we value ourselves, regardless of what other people think, or what other people do, or what other people say. If we don’t feel that we are of much value or benefit to other people, then we won’t put much value or worth on ourselves. Now, self-worth is an inner feeling. It’s not an outward feeling. It’s an inner feeling about ourselves. Now, in business or employment, this comes into play when you start to put a price tag on your service. If your self-worth is low, then you will price your services low, or you will price your salary low. On the other hand, if your self-worth is high, then you will price accordingly.
So when it comes to building self-confidence, it’s about understanding the difference between competence and confidence. And whatever role that you look at in life, whether it be a father, a mother, an employee, an employer, competence needs to be built in each of the relevant areas in order to fulfil that role. And the three pillars of competence are skills, knowledge, and experience, whereas for confidence, the three pillars are self-belief, self-love, and self-worth.
So it’s worth asking yourself what are the elements that you need to develop under each one of these pillars? So until the next blog, that’s something perhaps you could reflect on. What are each of the elements that you need to develop under each one of those pillars? Until the next blog, I wish you every success.