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Confidence – is it a gift, a skill or a code? Ten tips for growing yours…..

My summer book has been The Confidence Code by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman.  An excellent read, full of great examples and ideas, and replete with practical tips and tools for (a) understanding confidence and (b) acquiring more of it.  I recommend it highly – https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-confidence-code/katty-kay/claire-shipman/9780062414625

While the focus of the book is predominantly on women, much of the content is applicable to everyone.  Here are 10 key points which I think are of value to all of us:

  1. ‘Rumination’, over-thinking, too much self reflection are the enemies of confidence. We must avoid dwelling on our failures. We must learn to let go of defeat, learn from it, and move on. (Read Matthew Syed’s Black Box Thinking for more on this).

  2. Perfectionism also hinders confidence. Fear of failure leads to inaction, thus guaranteeing failure!
  3. ‘Self-compassion’ helps us recover from mistakes/failure. If we treat ourselves as we would a friend who’s having a tough time (by being kind, supportive, empathetic), we will empower ourselves to try again.
  4. There’s a complex genetic and hormonal landscape dictating our natural levels of confidence. BUT, and here’s the exciting news, life experiences, habits, nurture can alter nature’s original programming and turn the genes on and off. We are not inextricably tied to the hand we’re dealt at birth. This powerfully supports my assertion that confidence is a muscle which we can all grow.

  5. And, to prove that: habitual thinking and behaviour create new pathways in the brain, thereby over-riding genetics and changing the brain chemistry (even in adults). We can build bridges or new roads around the (possibly unhelpful) pathways which were laid down in childhood. I love this because it means we are in control of our own confidence…..

  6. Meditation changes the brain’s function and structure. In one experiment, after 8 weeks of meditation, there was less activity in the amygdala (our fear centre); it shrank and remained smaller.
  7.  We don’t have to dominate a conversation to have impact. We don’t have to speak first. We can be calm and measured and still deliver a smart message.
  8. Confidence doesn’t look the same in everyone. Women don’t have to behave like men. It must be authentic to each of us. If we’re being ourselves, we have more authority. If we’re pretending to be someone else, we are weaker.
  9. A Stanford Business School study has found that people who combine (typically) male and female qualities thrive best.  Eg assertive and collaborative.
  10. A Catalyst survey of 3000 MBA grads concluded that the behaviour which makes the biggest difference to a woman’s career progression is the ability to ‘blow her own trumpet’. We must all learn how to authentically and appropriately own our accomplishments and accept compliments.

Summer food for thought, like a lovely Greek salad.  Enjoy….