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7 ways to create an upward spiral of confidence

I consider myself to be a reasonably confident fellow. Need somebody to tackle a challenging work project? Have a new big, hairy, audacious goal (BHAG) that needs to be achieved? Seeking a karaoke partner to belt out The B-52’s “Rock Lobster”? I’m your guy.

Looking back on my early life experiences, I realize that it wasn’t always this way. As a youth, I was characteristically awkward and self-conscious. This makes sense. We all start essentially from the same place. We come into the world with certain gifts and abilities. We learn and grow and develop new skills over time. We each have to find our own way.

As I began to experience success in various aspects of my life, I became more self-assured. My base of experience broadened and I began to get a better sense of just how much I can accomplish (Karaoke machine optional).

I now believe that our goal pursuits are the key to creating an “upward spiral” of confidence.

The process looks like this:

Screen Shot 2018-05-17 at 8.49.32 AM(Above: The Upward Spiral of Confidence)

1. Feel the itch 

You experience a nagging feeling of discontent with some aspect of your life or you discover some potential achievement that really resonates with you.

2. Evaluate your confidence reserves

You give careful thought to where you are and what you’ve achieved to date. Are you ready to do this?

“Things get hard but you press on and overcome the obstacles.”

3. Set a goal

You make a commitment and you get clear about what you’re going to accomplish.

4. Draw on prior experiences

As you pursue your goal, you apply your hard-won knowledge and experience from previous adventures.

Screen Shot 2018-05-17 at 9.12.06 AM

5. Persevere

Things get hard, but you press on and overcome the obstacles that stand between you and your goal.

6. Achieve your goal

You emerge victorious!

“We can create an upward spiral of confidence.”

7. Bask in the glow of your confidence boost

You take the opportunity to look back at what you’ve just accomplished with gratitude and self-appreciation for your efforts.

Here’s a simple example of how this can work:

Let’s say you want to pen a nonfiction book. All of your friends have books available on Amazon because apparently you’re a nerd. The idea of seeing your future readers’ positive reviews gives you a warm feeling.

Time for a check-in. Upon reflection, you remind yourself that you’ve consistently written a series of blog posts in your subject area for many years. You’ve gotten some great feedback on those posts, too. Your confidence is building. You go ahead and set your goal.

“We’ll experience mini-crises of confidence along the way, but we can draw on our earlier experiences”

You begin to think about just how much you have going for you. Sure, you know how to write, but you’ve also developed other relevant skills. You know your preferred time of day to write and how to meet deadlines. Your confidence is rising even higher. Good thing, too, since you’ll need that energy and momentum when you face inevitable setbacks along the way.

After you stick it out and see your project through to the end…BOOM! You’re a published author. Your confidence soars. When you’re approached to join a podcast to talk about your book, your first panicked thought is, I don’t know … I’ve never done anything like that. You quickly stop yourself. Wait a minute. I just published a book! You agree to join the podcast, which you will undoubtedly crush. You’re unstoppable!

Screen Shot 2018-05-17 at 9.14.22 AMWe can create an upward spiral of confidence. It all starts when we allow ourselves to act on the tug of an inspiring goal. We’ll experience mini-crises of confidence along the way, but we can draw on our earlier experiences, see our goals through to completion, and parlay those successes into even bigger things in the future.

So what’s next for you? Which achievement will be your next confidence booster?

Want more on confidence? Learn how to create a more confident organization and how to instill confidence in your people.

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Matt Poepsel, PhD is the author of Expand the Circle: Enlightened Leadership for Our New World of Work and host of the Lead the People podcast. He serves as Vice President & Godfather of Talent Optimization at The Predictive Index. He holds a PhD in Psychology, an MBA, and a Harvard Business School Certificate of Management Excellence. Matt has more than 25 years of leadership experience as a software executive and consultant. He’s also a US Marine, an Ironman triathlon finisher, and a student of Buddhist philosophy.

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