Four easy confidence boosters in times of change and uncertainty

Meet Thomas, aged seven and a quarter, and this is his favourite joke.

“Where does Quasimodo keep his pet rabbits?”

All together… “we don’t know Thomas.”

“In a hutch back in Notre Dame.” Ha ha ha ha!!!

Oh how Thomas laughed; he laughed irrespective of whether I thought the joke was funny or not. I was actually laughing more at Thomas laughing at his own joke than at the joke itself, witty as it was.

If an adult had told that joke we would have groaned, but a small child who has no concept of failure makes it funny.

Ask a class of 5 year olds who can draw a picture and they’ll all think they’re artists of the highest caliber. Even though, and let’s be honest here, the majority, if not all of those drawings, would be… well… childish (what else would you expect?). Ask the same question to a group of teenagers and you might get the odd one or two saying “yes.”

So at which point in our lives did we lose our confidence in certain abilities? What happened?

I wonder if you can identify with this type of thinking. Let’s say I delivered 100 presentations (which is all I do speak at events), I’d do 94 good presentations, 3 absolutely brilliant presentations where I received standing ovations and 3 not so good ones. Which do you think I would focus on? Yup, that’s right the 3 poor ones.

This actually happened to me many many years ago and I remember how it shook my confidence to such a degree that for a short while I wouldn’t take on any work for fear of letting my clients down.  Even though the odds of success were well in my favour.

Research shows that all of us, including the most astute business icons, superstars of stage, screen and music and world class athletes, at some stage we all have moments of doubt and lose confidence in our abilities. This can particularly happen when we experience a lot of change and uncertainty. So how can we maintain confidence all, if not at least most of the time?

In the words of Bing Crosby (now I am showing my age), accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. Here are some simple ways, I suggest you do one or all of the following:

  1. Remind yourself of your achievements and successes – I have photos of me presenting to happy smiling audiences on my office walls along with testimonial letters from very satisfied clients.
  2. Surround yourself with as many friends and people who are happy, confident and successful.
  3. If something didn’t work out, don’t dwell on failure; focus on what did go well and ask the following questions, ‘”What didn’t work? What could I have done better? What will I do different next time?” If you’re not sure why things are not going your way ask for feedback, don’t guess.
  4. No news is good news – I’ve stopped listening to the news and reading newspapers, as it seems to me that they just revel in concentrating on the negative. Even when there’s good news they seem to put a negative spin on it. I just listen to the radio a couple of times a day for the ‘highlights’ so that I’m aware of what’s going on. I also have my browser home page set to the BBC website. I get a quick glance of the headlines when I open the browser, if I think I need more information on anything I’ll look in to it.

Before I wrap up here’s one more ‘joke’ from Thomas, take it away Thomas…

“I can name six things that have milk in them… ice-cream, custard and four cows”

And Thomas laughed and laughed and…