Description: Trusting in oneself to take action; trusting your intuition, remaining optimistic when facing challenges and productively advocating for your unique solutions.   Recognizing and overcoming the emotional fears that restrain your decisive or creative actions. 

We build confidence usually through others telling us we are great: teachers, coaches, bosses. Cultivating inner confidence is different.


Thinking Partner Notes

What’s the fiction: Confidence is displaying an unwavering belief in your greatness. Being confident means you are absolutely right and sure of yourself.

What's really true: Confidence is overcoming/relating to your fears and perceived limitations. We have to trust ourselves and take action with confidence long before we will feel confident. If we wait until we feel confident, we will wait a long time. Confidence is always evolving and built by trusting ourselves to figure it out, not because we have the “right” answer. Why is this important? If we think we can only be confident when we know the right answer, we do whatever it takes to BE right, instead of exploring, learning and discovering. 


Example:  Samuel was a junior manager who was told he had a lot of talent to lead, but lacked confidence to speak up in meetings and deliver presentations effectively. He was great in one-to-one discussions, but with the whole team, especially with people he didn't know well, he retreated. His managers saw this as a weakness and it was preventing him from advancing. During his Thinking Partnership sessions he discovered that he definitely had strong opinions and comments to make during meetings, but when he started to speak, a judgmental voice in his head would say loudly, “They know more than you, no one cares what you think!” “You may be wrong, why risk the humiliation?” Frozen in fear he would always just swallow his words, and send an email later with his thoughts. While he perceived this was good enough, it wasn't effective. The topic had long since disappeared from people's minds, and his emails seemed to come out of the blue.  

His TP helped him solve the issue by first identifying moment he did speak up confidently, and noted the elements that were important. Things like: armed with solid research and data, stand when possible instead of sitting, have written three key words he wanted to remember to say as he shared his thoughts. In essence, he prepared a list what helped him prepare to speak with confidence, it became his pre-meeting practice to list what thoughts he wanted to share with confidence.


Things to try: 1) Practice recognizing negative self-talk (e.g. “I can never do that.”); 2) Practice identifying your self-defined limitations (e.g. “I’m not good at that.”); 3) Practice surfacing your fears (e.g. “I’m terrified of trying that.”); 4) Practice attempting micro-activities associated with your negative self-talk, limitations and fears. 

Next steps: 1) Choose one of your self-defined limitations (e.g. “I’m not good at giving presentations.”); 2) Witness the mechanics of that task from afar (i.e. Reading a book, watching a documentary or listening to a podcast about the process and routines of preparing for and delivering presentations); 3) Witnessing the mechanics of that task up close (i.e. Talk to someone who you know to be a good presenters  - get their advice on the process of preparing for and delivering a good presentation); 4) Try the difficult task yourself - follow the process and routines identified in steps two and three; 5) Get feedback and try it again.

Additional Resources



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