This is a guest blog by Pamela A. Scott
“Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” – Louise L. Hay, motivational author
I love that quote. We are all experts at telling ourselves how we messed up. It’s time to shift our focus by building our self-confidence.
If you think you’re the only one with self-confidence issues, think again. I realized recently that most (if not all) clients I’ve coached over the past 15-plus years have struggled with self-confidence. That includes CEOs and other executive-level staff as well as teenagers trying to find direction.
Reprogram Your Brain
Let’s start with listening to how you program your brain via the words you use.
Drop the “shoulda-woulda-coulda” phrases that you use every day. And phrases like “I need” or “I want” or “I have to.” Those phrases trigger stress. The words we use control our minds. Think of it as programming a computer. Those words — and more like them — don’t serve you well. When you hear yourself say them, immediately rephrase to “I’d like to” or “It would be nice if I . . .”
Learn To Say “No”
Do you say “yes” to doing something you don’t want to do because you want to please someone else? Remember, you are in charge of your brain. You benefit from building the mental muscles that allow you to easily say “no” in polite ways.
I used to say “yes” way too much, often to my own detriment, both physically and mentally. So I tried this exercise.
I had a regular 45-minute drive to meet with a client every week. I practiced saying “No!” out loud in my car for 45 minutes. The exercise works better if you say it with conviction. I may have looked ridiculous to other drivers, but I didn’t care. Now I can easily respond when asked to attend an event or take on new roles — “Thank you, but I can’t at this time.”
Caveat: Say “no” judiciously at work and with clients.
Identify Your Core Values
Your core values are those values that are intrinsic to you; you can’t not honor them. In fact, you will leave a job or fire one of your best clients to uphold those values.
When you’ve identified your core values, it is easy to say no to things and people who won’t serve you well.
Young professionals often struggle to be perfect. No one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. And fear of making mistakes can lead to you not making a decision when you need to. It’s called analysis paralysis.
The benefit of making mistakes is that you learn new ways to tackle a project, to communicate with a stranger, or to view a situation.
The beauty of mistakes is that they help you learn. Make mistakes, learn from them, and watch your self-confidence grow.
Focus on Your Posture
I remember my mother saying, “Pamela, stand up straight.” I’d straighten up, hold my head high, put my shoulders back, and walk confidently back to my room, where I would then resume the teenager slump.
The pandemic has taught me that adjusting my posture does make me feel better; it changes my mindset. It gives me more energy.
Most of us spend too much time hunched over our phones or desks. If this is you, try this simple exercise now.
Go to a wall near you. Stand with your back against the wall. Put your shoulders against the wall. The same for your head. Hold that pose for a few seconds.
Feel better? Improving your posture will boost your confidence and mood, as well as physical well-being, according to the Mayo Clinic. Go here for more ways to work on your posture.
You can find oodles of research and advice on how to build your self-confidence online and at www.MentorLoft.com. Here are two links I recommend:.
Take action. Reprogram your brain so you’re in charge of you!
About the Author Pamela A. Scott
Pam is an executive coach to CEOs and business owners, focusing on communication, managing people, leadership, and emotional intelligence. Her tagline says it best: “Numbers may drive the business, but people drive the numbers.”®
Pam started her company more than 20 years ago. For much of that time, Pam has coached engineers and architects to be leaders in their companies.
She brings more than 25 years of communications expertise and leadership experience as
- A national award-winning newspaper editor
- A communications specialist writing for Congress
- A successful entrepreneur specializing in coaching clients to reach their full potential
Clients have ranged from solo practitioners to companies such as Turner Broadcasting System, Coca Cola, Federal Reserve Bank, and engineering firms such as Walter P. Moore. For 15 years, Pam was a member of Vistage, an international organization of CEOs.
Pam has a master’s in education and human development from George Washington University and a bachelor’s in communication from Bethany College. In Toastmasters, she has achieved Advanced Communicator Bronze and Advanced Leadership Bronze levels.
We would love to hear any questions you might have or stories you might share about being in charge of yourself.
Please leave your comments, feedback or questions in the section below.
To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success