Published on March 6th, 2015 | by Nancy F. Clark0
Learn How To Transform Your Fear Into Confidence
By Helene Lerner—
Fear can prevent us from achieving great heights of success by distorting reality or being grounded in false beliefs. Stepping up and taking action allows us to move through those fears. However, taking action itself can foster fear by pushing us outside our comfort zone. But that’s okay because being challenged means we’re growing. Confidence doesn’t require fearlessness, rather the ability to step into uncharted territory and get comfortable with the uncomfortable.
The continually evolving workplace can be stressful and we need vigilance to monitor our thoughts and confront what I call “mad mind-chatter,” the negative self-talk that holds women back. I use this term because thinking we are not capable of achieving greater things seems insane. We need to question the old ways of acting that limit us and adopt new behaviors. When the voice of fear says, “hold back,” your fear may be grounded in a false belief about what will happen if you put yourself forward. The confidence myth is that you shouldn’t proceed unless you are fully prepared. Yet the truth is that nobody at any stage of his or her career is ever fully ready.
Modern neuroscience discovered the brain’s plasticity and the most recent research tell us that even deeply ingrained habits can be changed. So now is the time to step up by questioning the beliefs and altering the habits that hold you back. You can start by taking the following steps:
Stop the Self-Doubt
Do you hold a negative belief that creates self-doubt and keeps you from thinking bigger? Perhaps a relative, teacher or boss judged you harshly and you believed them. Mad mind-chatter can make us believe that we may not be qualified for a job when we are quite capable of tackling it—a mindset that keeps us playing small. Why not aspire to something greater? All too many women hold back on making a move until they feel like they already have most of the skills they need, whereas a great number of their male counterparts often plow ahead without a complete skill-set in place. Take inventory of your strengths—actually make a list of them. Call to mind your current supervisor and previous managers. What else would they say about your strengths? If you aren’t feeling sure about stepping up (remember, confidence includes feeling shaky but moving forward anyway), use your nervousness to your advantage.
Take Smart Risks
When considering bigger jobs, let your prospective boss be the judge of whether or not you’re right for a position. You owe it to yourself to take a smart risk. Bust the myth that “I don’t have the skills needed to take that job” and realize the truth: “What I don’t know I can learn or delegate.” When interviewing for a position with more responsibility, make a list of the skills you already have, the skills you need to learn, and the tasks that can be delegated. Now address your fear of not being able to handle the situation and see the truth as it is. Mobilize the support you need to take a bigger leap—pick one or two people you can call on for expertise and feedback, but also be your own mentor and ask yourself, “Why not me?”
Say Goodbye to Perfectionism
When we give up perfectionism, we are better able to step up, speak up, think big and take risks. The pretense of perfection kills enthusiasm as well as the ability to move forward, so don’t indulge it. Making mistakes is part of the confidence process and some of the greatest innovations happen when things go awry. Yet, many of us play it safe to feel in control and somewhere along the way start to equate risk with danger instead of opportunity. So go ahead and take a leap. Even if your efforts don’t work out as planned, the lessons learned will make you wiser.
Identify a Bold Goal
Identify a bold goal, one that you feel passionate about. Maybe the goal is a promotion or taking your career in a new direction. Think big! What smaller, doable actions can you take to reach your goal? Also, consider the people who can support you as you work toward your goal. Who will give you honest feedback, offer expertise or just be available to listen as challenges arise? Continue reaching out to your support team as needed. Remember, one action at a time will get you there. Once your goal has been achieved, acknowledge the courage it took and how you have grown throughout the process. But don’t stop there—set another stretch goal to tackle. Confidence is about stepping up over and over again, looking fear in the face and moving ahead anyway.