It’s been a whole week since I left my secure job for funemployment. I thought it would be full of tidying the garden and annoying my 9-5 friends but I’ve ended up quite busy meeting people to talk about working for them. And three days in, I was working on a casual contract for an incredible company. I put it down to a very confident list of the work I’ve done that I shared on LinkedIn. I found it embarrassingly hard to write it, let alone share to the world.
Perhaps it’s a symptom of tall poppy syndrome but us Kiwis are humble by nature. We would rather shrink into the background than be recognised individually for our work. For women, this is even harder because we are less likely to negotiate our pay or apply for roles unless we are 100% qualified.
So it got me thinking, is our humbleness affecting our ability to talk about our achievements with confidence? Could a confidence boost increase our effectiveness at work and in turn produce a happier workforce? I think so.
Here’s my list of confidence boosters that have worked for me. Try them out and let me know how you go:
1. Say thank you
A friend of mine moved back to the US and said it took a year to shake the New Zealandness out of her. She found it hard to accept compliments let alone talk about the amazing things she had achieved. She couldn’t even remember the good bits! So she made it her mission to just reply ‘thank you’ when someone paid her a compliment rather than replying with a humble “oh it wasn’t that great.” It worked a treat. Like this:
“You did an awesome job on that project!”
“Thanks! I’m really pleased with how it turned out.”
Try this: When someone says something nice, say thank you, smile and leave it there. Your brain will start to lock in all of the great things you do and not overwhelm you with the work-ons.
2. Create a folder of happy
When you’re working at pace, it’s often hard to remember what you’ve achieved. I set up a folder and file email compliments and kind words from people in there. I also email myself when I’ve nailed something awesome when it happens. Not only is it helpful at annual review time but it’s a good bank of highlights to remind myself of what I’ve achieved. I’m always surprised when I read over them again – I really did that? High-five Katie!
3. Be proud of your part of the success
While all projects are a team effort, your part in it was important. It’s not a bad thing to be proud of your effort. Diminishing your value out loud sinks into your brain and it reduces your confidence. Imagine what celebrating your good bits will do!
Try writing down the role you had in the project, why it was important and use it to talk about why you’re proud of the success. For example:
“I’m incredibly proud to have led the user-testing on the website project. Through this, the people that use our website can find what they need quickly and they love it!”
4. Ask people on your team
You’ll know the people that love what you do. I call mine Team Katie. Talk to them and ask them what you do best, your strengths and why they think you’re good at your job. You’ll be surprised at the good stuff they see in you that you’ve forgotten. You might even discover strengths you didn’t know you had! Try to keep the negative feedback for another time because your mind will zone in on the bad bits and you may miss the good.* If you’re looking for a job, this tip is particularly useful because the things they say can form your list of skills – easy!
*unless you’re in growth mindset, in which case – all feedback is great!
5. Trust your gut (and data)
Gut instinct is a powerful thing. When you get really good at your job, that gut feel becomes even stronger and it makes it easier for you to make decisions. Sometimes I couldn’t explain why I thought something would work, I just knew it. But if someone questioned my decisions, I started to doubt what I knew. When I looked into it, it was the years of analysis my brain had done. It was the research I had read that reinforced my decision and the trends I had been seeing for months. Knowledge is power in the confidence game and I love being armed with some sturdy research or data.
Try: The next time you start to doubt yourself, find where your gut feel has come from. Find the research, data and references you filed in your ‘I’ve got this’ folder in your brain. The validation alone that you did in fact ‘have this’ is a boost!
So there’s a few of my confidence boosters. Lift your head up and be proud of your smart self! One day you will look back on all of the amazing things you’ve achieved and be incredibly proud. And if you have any confidence hacks, I’d love to hear them.