Ed asks: I’m a senior executive with a track record of high performance. My performance levels have led to interesting career growth opportunities as well as increasing amounts of responsibility over the years. Given all I’ve achieved, my peers and colleagues believe I have a high level of confidence. But, the truth is, I don’t feel that way inside. I wish I felt as confident as my performance indicates it is. What steps can I take to work on closing this gap?
Eric Nitzberg, Executive Leadership Coach, responds:
Your confidence levels have not become a barrier to performance. However it will take some work to unwind the stories you’ve been telling yourself over the years about your limitations. One way to start working on this is to recognize when your internal narrative is at play. When you are in situations when you are feeling unsure, what are you thinking? How does your body feel? Begin to notice what transpires in these moments, and write them down. Once you’ve identified your internal narrative, you can work on interrupting these habitual responses with more positive experiences. Reflect on prior successes when you’ve overcome similar feelings and have pushed through to positive outcomes. You can also try positive affirmations to change the narrative in these moments, as well as any meditation or mindfulness technique to get centered.
Somatic work might also help you embody your own leadership. Work on getting more into your body to feel and experience your own strength. Practice several ways you might walk into a room, perhaps to give a presentation. Observe the sensations in your body and where you feel them. Notice your posture. What feels good to you? Meditation or mindfulness practices can help with this as well. Practice tightening and relaxing your body while you sit with your eyes closes and notice what you feel. The idea is to consciously embody the strength that resides within.
You might also want to watch Amy Cuddy’s 10-minute TED talk, Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are. In this talk, you’ll learn how standing in a confident stance even when you’re not feeling confident can impact success.