When talking about confidence I'm not talking about the type that's gained from climbing the ladder of a hierarchical institution. You know, the traditional confidence that comes with reaching the top of the pile and obtaining the right to power through the structures of a system or corporation. Instead, I'm referring to a different type of confidence: one that's more fluid, yet infinitely more complex. It's the type of confidence that uses expansive thinking, connects dots and cooperates with others for a higher purpose. But how do you develop this elusive type of confidence?
There are 5 ways:
1. Establish your identity
To know who you are and what you want, you’ll need to develop greater self-awareness. This can be gained through objectivity, meditation, reflection and contemplation. Heightened powers of self-awareness mean that you're able to tap into higher stages of psychological maturity (integral or holistic being the goal). Once you have some clarity around who you are, draw up a vision (I like to use a big white board for this) or a vision board of pictures/photos. Having a vision gives you a platform to build on and a way to create, take action and have fun with who you wish to become. This builds confidence!
2. Use a growth mindset
Once you engage with the creative process you're bound to encounter occasional setbacks. Using a growth mindset means being open to learning from mistakes to re-work your plan for future success. Knowing where you went wrong and how to correct it (via perspective training or coaching) can do wonders for your self-esteem, and you can look back and track the progress you've made. Carol Dwek writes about how success is built on the use of a growth mindset, while a fixed mindset keeps individuals stuck in perpetual failure.
3. Relax into the present
Fear often keeps us stuck, preventing us from taking action aligned with our goals. Rather than resisting fear, relax into it. Observe your fear and become familiar with it. Look at it head-on. By learning to relax into the present moment, you will be able to let go of fear or doubt. This enables you to reconnect with what's important to you (your purpose - see below). It refreshes and renews your sense of self-belief.
4. Have a higher purpose
I find that having a greater purpose to connect to means that I can take action regardless of any negative emotions. For example, I want to become a better writer. But in order for me to progress, I need to spend time writing. So regardless of what I feel I get up every morning, make some tea and spend 30 minutes writing. I do this non-judgmentally, leaving the editing to be done later. This aligns with what Steven Pressfield calls "resistance" training. Working towards a higher purpose gives you more focus when it comes to overcoming the resistance to do the work. If you've got something to channel your focus, your confidence will increase exponentially the closer you get to your goal.
5. Work on staying in flow
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi writes about how an "optimal experience"; one that makes work truly satisfying, is a state called “flow”. Such a state is achieved when your skills perfectly match the challenge you're faced with. You may have experienced this: losing track of time while doing something you really enjoy.
To illustrate: As soon as a challenge outweighs your skill-set, you become overwhelmed. And if a challenge is too easy for your skill-set, you get bored. But if the two align, you can grow as a person, which means your confidence begins to soar. As an individual, you can achieve a state of flow by making sure that your talents, skills and interests are aligned.
Confidence stems from knowing who you are: why you’re here and what’s important to you (your story/purpose). It also comes from excitement and passion about your work. Start by learning to relax into the present, trying to stay in flow and enhancing your skills and you’ll develop more confidence.