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How can Self-confidence drive success?

confidence

In this, the seventeenth in my series of posts exploring soft skills, I want to focus on Self-confidence. How does Self-confidence drive success?  One of the problems I have with this particular soft skill is that it can easily become or be viewed as arrogance.  There is a fine line between being self-confident and allowing your ego to overtake you, leaving others with the perception that you consider yourself superior to them. Self-confidence has been defined as a feeling of trust in one’s abilities, qualities, and judgment and the belief or confidence in oneself that one knows what to do, how to do it, and can handle challenges as they arise. The factor that stops self-confidence from moving into arrogance is humility, which is to say that you remain self-aware about others’ perceptions of you and are able to modify your behaviour to avoid coming off as brash or sounding like a know it all.

“Self-confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings”. – Samuel Johnson

As I continue my study of Soft Skills I become more convinced about how connected they are with Emotional and Social Intelligence. Emotional Intelligence is based on the foundation of first knowing yourself, managing or controlling yourself, social awareness or knowing others and finally relationship management or, simply put, doing things for others. The foundational piece for all four of these areas is self-awareness. Self-confidence then comes into play in how well you feel about your level of self-awareness; how well you understand your own strengths and weaknesses, and strengthening and improving both. Confidence is about building yourself up, not tearing others down. And as I have written in previous posts, when you’re confident, you make others around you feel confident too.

 

Confident Behaviours

So what does it mean to be confident? Here are some examples of both confident and non-confident behaviour:

Confident Behavior Behavior Associated With low Self-Confidence
·         Doing what you believe to be right, even if others mock or criticize you for it ·         Governing your behavior based on what other people think.
·         Being willing to take risks and go the extra mile to achieve better things ·         Staying in your comfort zone, fearing failure, and therefore avoiding risks
·         Admitting your mistakes, and learning from them ·         Working hard to cover up mistakes and hoping that you can fix the problem before anyone notices.
·         Waiting for others to congratulate you on your accomplishments ·         Extolling your own virtues as often as possible to as many people as possible
·         Accepting compliments graciously. “Thanks, I really worked hard on that prospectus. I’m pleased you recognize my efforts.” ·         Dismissing compliments offhandedly. “Oh that prospectus was nothing really, anyone could have done it.”
From: https://www.mindtools.com/selfconf.html

 

 

One key trait of highly self-confident people is that they build up others rather than tearing them down. Having self-confidence means that you do not feel competitive with others—their success doesn’t take away from your own. Some ways to exhibit self-confidence are:

  • Find ways to build up others.
  • Compliment others.
  • Acknowledge others’ contributions, and express your gratitude.
  • Being a mentor can also help to build others up by helping them develop skills, which will help them develop their own self-confident

“Low self-confidence isn’t a life sentence. Self-confidence can be learned, practiced, and mastered—just like any other skill. Once you master it, everything in your life will change for the better.” – Barrie Davenport

By exhibiting self-confidence you are demonstrating your belief in self, increasing your own self-awareness and presenting a confident, positive image. As a soft skill, self-confidence will give you an advantage over others and lead to better success.

How to Build Self-Confidence: a Soft Skill Work in Progress

 

Self-confidence, like all Soft Skills can be improved. In fact, a few very simple tactics can help you quickly build your self-confidence. As you become more confident, you will find that you will have experiences that will build your confidence even more.

With realization of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world.”  — Dalai Lama

 

Self-Questionnaire

How confident are you? It can be hard to assess our own self-confidence. Taking some time to ask a few questions and answer them honestly can help you gauge the areas where your confidence is high and the areas in which you can develop greater self-confidence. How strongly do you agree with these statements?

  1. I know intuitively what’s right for me.
  2. I walk my talk.
  3. I am honest with others.
  4. I am honest with myself.
  5. I feel comfortable being wrong.
  6. I am more interested in finding out what is right than being right.
  7. It is not important to me that I be right all the time.
  8. I feel like I can meet any challenge.
  9. I operate well under pressure.
  10. I do not put others down.
  11. I like to share the spotlight with others.
  12. I have a clear vision for my life.

How did you do? Based on your responses here are some basic ideas to help you build your self-confidence:

  1. Stay away from negativity and bring on the positivity. This is the time to really evaluate your inner circle, including friends and family. This is a tough one, but it’s time to seriously consider getting away from those individuals who put you down and shred your confidence. Even a temporary break from such people can make a huge difference and help you make strides toward more self-confidence.
  2. Be positive, even if you’re not feeling it quite yet. Put some positive enthusiasm into your interactions with others and hit the ground running, excited to begin your next project. Stop focusing on the problems in your life and instead begin to focus on solutions and making positive changes.
  3. Change your body language. This is where posture, smiling, eye contact, and speaking slowly come into play. Just the simple act of pulling your shoulders back gives others the impression that you are a confident person. Smiling will not only make you feel better, but will make others feel more comfortable around you. Imagine a person with good posture and a smile and you’ll be envisioning someone who is self-confident.
  4. Look at the person you are speaking to, not at your shoes–keeping eye contact shows confidence. Last, speak slowly. Research has proved that those who take the time to speak slowly and clearly feel more self-confidence and appear more self-confident to others. The added bonus is they will actually be able to understand what you are saying.
  5. Image. Go the extra mile and style your hair, give yourself a clean shave, and dress nicely. Not only will this make you feel better about yourself, but others are more likely to perceive you as successful and self-confident as well.
  6. Don’t accept failure and get rid of the negative thoughts. Never give up. Never accept failure. There is a solution to everything, so why would you want to throw in the towel? Make this your new mantra. Succeeding through great adversity is a huge confidence booster. Low self-confidence is often caused by the negative thoughts running through our minds on an endless track. If you are constantly bashing yourself and saying you’re not good enough, aren’t attractive enough, aren’t smart enough or athletic enough, and on and on, you are creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. You are becoming what you are preaching inside your head, and that’s not good. The next time you hear that negativity in your head, switch it immediately to a positive affirmation and keep it up until it hits the caliber of a self-confidence boost.
  7. Be prepared. Learn everything there is to know about your field, job, presentation–whatever is next on your “to conquer” list. If you are prepared, and have the knowledge to back it up, your self-confidence will soar.
  8. For tough times, when all else fails: Create a great Life is full of challenges and there are times when it’s difficult to keep our self-confidence up. Sit down right now and make a list of all the things in your life that you are thankful for, and another list of your accomplishments in which you take pride. Once your lists are complete, post them on your refrigerator door, on the wall by your desk, on your bathroom mirror–somewhere where you can easily be reminded of what an amazing life you have and what an amazing person you really are. If you feel your self-confidence dwindling, take a look at those lists and let yourself feel and be inspired all over again by you.

From: Peter Economy. INC Magazine

http://www.inc.com/peter-economy/5-powerful-ways-to-boost-your-confidence.html

 

“Low self-confidence isn’t a life sentence. Self-confidence can be learned, practiced, and mastered–just like any other skill. Once you master it, everything in your life will change for the better.” – Barrie Davenport

 

Build Up Others

Finally, one key trait of people who have high self-confidence is that they build up others rather than tearing them down. Having self-confidence means that you do not feel competitive with others. Their success doesn’t diminish your own. Find ways to build up others. Compliment them. Acknowledge their contributions, and express your gratitude. Being a mentor can also help to build others up by helping them develop skills, which will help them develop their own self-confidence.

 

 

How Flexible Are You? The Soft Skill of Adaptability. Part II

This is Part Two of last week’s blog on Adaptability and Flexibility. As I stated last week, these are two skills are coming to the forefront of Soft Skills development. How one adapts to change and remains flexible in one’s approach to it is critical to success in today’s world.

 

Changing to Manage Process

One of the most common situations in which we will need to change and adapt is when processes change in the workplace. In order to navigate a new process, we need to change not only what we do but how we approach it. New technology, globalizing businesses, and evolving needs all lead to changes in our work processes. If we hold on to the old way of doing things, we risk reduced productivity (and revenue), as well as increased conflict and other challenges. When we adapt to a new process, we are not just learning a new way of doing a specific task, we are demonstrating our ability to adapt to changing circumstances, learn new skills, and work with others.

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek” – Barack Obama

Changing to Manage People

Managing people is not a “one-size-fits-all” ability. The SOCIAL STYLES™ process demonstrates that people need different things from a leader. Some need lots of feedback and guidance. Others prefer to work independently most of the time and to get feedback only at regularly scheduled intervals. Some people need a great deal of hands-on training with technology or equipment, while others will come into your organization as experts. Taking the time to learn what your people need, and then changing your leadership style to meet those needs, is hugely important to workplace success. When you adapt your leadership style to meet the specific needs of those you lead, it demonstrates that your concern for them is genuine, that rather than expecting them to conform to your preferred way of doing things, you want to invest in them and help them grow. Take the time to ask the people you lead what they need from you, what their goals are, and how you can be a better leader and colleague. Then take steps to make the changes that you feel will be most helpful.

“Our only security is our ability to change” – John Lilly

Showing You Are Worth Your Weight in Adaptability

How can you showcase your adaptability? Studies show that people who are highly adaptable may be more highly valued than those who are highly skilled but less willing to adapt, flex, and change. Some ways to demonstrate adaptability on the job are:

  • Be open to alternative solutions when your first suggestion does not go over well or succeed
  • Be willing to take on new roles, even when they are a stretch for your skills
  • Be willing to help others generate alternative solutions or plans
  • Be willing to accept the unexpected
  • Keep your calm, even when things are moving fast or are stressful
  • Demonstrate confidence in your ability to complete the job even when you’ve had to adapt or flex

Taking the time to develop your soft skills such as adaptability and flexibility will give you additional opportunities in any endeavour.

 

How Flexible Are You? The Soft Skill of Adaptability.

I read somewhere recently that Soft Skills have become today’s Hard Skills. This is something to think about as we move further into the information age and away from the industrial age. It’s not that we will do away with hard skills. Trades, factories, mining, the list goes on, will still be around and those working in them will always need those hard, technical skills to do the job. But more and more, even for occupations in those trades, soft skills are being recognized as a critical component of the whole worker. Two of the most important soft skills that are coming to the forefront are adaptability and flexibility.

Some people mistakenly think that the ability to change according to the needs of a situation or a willingness to compromise, show weakness or a lack of conviction. In reality, the ability to compromise, adapt to change and still thrive are keys to success in the fast-pace workplaces in which most of us find ourselves. Change can be scary, but learning to adapt and flex as needed is an investment worth making.

“You must always be able to predict what’s next and have the flexibility to evolve.” – Marc Benioff

 

To me, adaptability and flexibility is about creativity. It’s being open to other alternatives in any situation. It’s about looking for the second or third “right” answer. There is always more than one right answer to a given problem; the trick is to find the one that you are most comfortable with and the one you can live with. Just because we have done something the same way for years, doesn’t mean it still works today. Thinking creatively, sometimes “out of the box,” will often produce a solution that is both effective and surprising. It is these solutions that add energy to projects and help them on their way to success.

We all have those moments in life where we are confronted with change: small and inconsequential, or massive ones such as change in the workplace (either a promotion or demotion); change in family life (the birth of a child or death of a parent); a move across town or across the country, may be even to totally different country. The ability to adapt to changes, to be flexible, is about accepting reality and coping with it.

“Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future” – John F. Kennedy

How can you showcase your adaptability? Studies show that people who are highly adaptable may be more highly valued than those who are highly skilled but less willing to adapt, flex, and change. Some ways to demonstrate adaptability on the job are:

  • Be open to alternative solutions when your first suggestion does not go over well or succeed
  • Be willing to take on new roles, even when they are a stretch for your skills
  • Be willing to help others generate alternative solutions or plans
  • Be willing to accept the unexpected
  • Keep your calm, even when things are moving fast or are stressful
  • Demonstrate confidence in your ability to complete the job even when you’ve had to adapt or flex

Taking the time to develop your soft skills such as adaptability and flexibility will give you additional opportunities in any endeavour.

Is Being Self-Centered That Bad: Caring for Others vs Caring for Self

Has there been a shift in our thinking around caring for others vs. caring for ourselves? I ask this because of the current focus on Self-Awareness. Has the pendulum swung again to a focus on self rather than on others? (Some may ask if the pendulum ever really swung toward the latter!) I remember the 1970s being dubbed the “me” generation because of the way the baby boomers had become so self-centered, more concerned about themselves and their own comfort than those around them. The fallout of that state of affairs was the economic recession of the early 1980’s: very high unemployment and the collapse of savings and loans financial institutions, blamed in part on the excessive greed and over-consumption of that “me” generation.

However, the series that I have been writing over the past 14 weeks is not on economics but on soft skills. So where is the connection? I see it in the way that every few months, it seems that a new “best” system of managing or leading pops up. A new expert writes a book on the latest and greatest method, but a close examination reveals it to be merely a reworking of a system that had already come and gone. We are told that the newest and latest method will give us insight into how to solve our current “unique” issues. The reality, though, is that things may change but they also stay remarkably the same.

I have come to believe that we need to have, and use, the combination of both the new and the old. Of course we should pay attention to the latest research and ideas, but we should not necessarily throw away all the experience and knowledge we have gained over many years just to chase the “new” thing. In the context of this post, does it have to be either Caring for Yourself vs. Caring for Others, or can it be both? I believe it can.

“Why do we assume that showing care and concern for others and their needs means that we make ourselves and our needs our lowest priority?”

Why do we assume that showing care and concern for others and their needs means that we make ourselves and our needs our lowest priority? That we either practice self-care or be a good colleague and team member who demonstrates compassion for others, but that we can’t be or do both? What if we can, and actually need, to do both. That they are inclusive? If we have shared goals with those with whom we share our personal and professional lives, finding a way to take care of both ourselves and others can create an environment for success. Caring for ourselves can be a template, a model for caring for others. By taking good care of ourselves, we become the best colleague we can be, demonstrating care for others. Seeing the ways in which everyone is interconnected, and the way in which everyone’s success benefits the entire group is an important attitude shift. When we can find a way to care for others and ourselves, we develop a more positive, productive workplace. When we come to the realization that we have shared goals with those we work with, we can find a way to both care for ourselves and care for others.

 

Keep Calm and… Attitude and Work Ethic

“Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character.” – Albert Einstein

You’ve most likely heard the phrase, “Hire for attitude; you can always train and test for skills.”  Hard skills for any job can usually be tested. A simple example would be for typing skills –you can measure a candidate’s keyboarding speed by administering a test. Attitude, though, is different. It cannot be objectively measured, and that is why it can be classified as a soft skill.

A 2012 Forbes article on a study of 20,000 new hires found that 46% of them failed within 18 months of being hired. Of those 89% failed because of attitudinal issues and only 11% due to a lack of skills. A more recent study by Millennium Branding (2014) showed that positive attitude (84%) was one of the top three attributes that recruiters look for.

“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” ― Winston S. Churchill

 

A positive attitude is very much a real thing. There is now science behind the idea that having a positive attitude makes a difference. Using EMI machines scientist are mapping the brain and observing how both negative and positive thinking impacts the brain’s functioning. Evidence indicates that positive events help the brain develop new neuro pathways, which improves learning, making people open to new ideas and feelings, and that negative thinking actually decreases cognitive functioning and can create a drop in the immune system, which makes a person susceptible to illness. Richard Boyatzis names these effects in his Intentional Change Theory and states that we either move towards a Positive Emotional Attractor (PEA) or Negative Emotional Attractor (NEA). Our natural tendency, due to our ancestry, is to move towards the negative (fight or flight). The ancient part of our brain is wired to watch out for danger and to see things in the negative. However by raising our self-awareness and managing our emotions (EQ) we can consciously move towards and maintain a PEA.

So why is all this important?

  • It increases and improves productivity.
  • It increases and improves workplace happiness.
  • We become viewed as approachable and therefore build more effective workplace relationships.
  • It creates a space that allows us to positively handle challenges or setbacks – it breeds resilience.

Our attitude defines how we approach things. There will be times when we have a bad or negative attitude and time when we have a good or positive one. Our management of these will have a significant impact on our success, not only in our careers but also our lives.

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.” ― Marcus Aurelius,

 

Being clear about what you’re working for is an important part of building a positive attitude and strong work ethic. If you are not sure what you are working for, it can be difficult or even impossible to fully invest in a project or in developing your skills. Here are some ideas to get you started (from Ten Soft Skills You Need. 2015, Global Courseware Inc.)…

  • Take time to clarify your personal goals, both in terms of specific projects and in terms of your overall career.
  • Set specific goals and then create plans to achieve them.
    • Tie these goals to your day-to-day tasks and responsibilities so that you can keep them in sight.
  • When working with a team, it is also vital that you outline clear group goals.
    • Know what each member of the group is working for, and what the group is collectively working for.
    • Find ways to consistently tie individual tasks or steps to the overarching group goals and to individual members’ personal goals.