If you are sure of yourself in a given situation, it’s easy to believe in yourself.
I make mistakes all the time. I'll use professional speaking as an example because I often feel as if those mistakes might become magnified.
I’ve made small and large mistakes when speaking. A small mistake was saying Star Wars when I meant Star Trek. A larger mistake was when I finished a keynote 30 minutes early. I had forgotten to include all the stories I’d planned.
For the first situation, when my audience members looked confused, I asked, “What’s wrong?” A brave soul explained my mistake. I laughed and said, “I might do it again. Please yell if I do.” The entire audience laughed.
I made a larger speaking mistake. In one keynote, I forgot half my talk. I realized when I “finished,” I had 30 minutes remaining. I’d forgotten to explain everything with all the stories I'd prepared.
I walked to the front of the stage and opened my arms. I said something like this, “Sometimes, measurements seem theoretical. I want to help you understand. Yell out a metrics problem, and I’ll answer you in the moment with what you might measure and how to discuss it. We’ll timebox this part, so I meet my talk measurements.”
The audience loved it. They didn’t know I screwed up.
1. I was ready. I’d prepared for the talks in advance.
2. I accepted my reality in the moment. I didn’t deny it.
3. I built my resilience so I could take advantage of the situation.
You know about the first two. I bet you practice being ready and seeing your reality. Let me talk about building resilience.
According to Al Siebert (who wrote The Resiliency Advantage, books2read.com/u/3nYQLe), there are five levels of resiliency:
1. Maintaining your emotional stability, health, and well-being. I’d gotten enough sleep the night before and was present in the moment.
2. Focus outward: good problem-solving skills. I’d made mistakes before in talks. I knew that if I could give myself a few seconds to think, I could do something useful. I focused on the problem, not my feelings about the problem.
3. Focus inward: strong inner “selfs.” Siebert discusses strong self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-concept. I’ll lump those into “believing in yourself.”
4. Well-developed resiliency skills: attributed and skills (including optimism) that resilient people have.
5. Develop your talent for serendipity. How to convert misfortune into good fortune.
When I’m unsure of myself, I do these things to understand how to believe in myself more:
- Test the circumstances to see where to find my physical and emotional balance. In the talk I finished early, I assessed the time I had remaining. I asked myself what my alternatives were. It didn’t make sense to admit my mistake, although I do that in various circumstance. It made sense to focus on solving the problem.
- Take a small step and ask for feedback. I offered an option to the audience. They loved it.
- Use my strong sense of self to check and see quickly: would this work?
When you have a ton of experience, it’s easy to be resilient, to believe in yourself. What about when you don’t have that experience?
It’s the same idea:
1. Center yourself. Find a place of emotional calmness so you can problem solve.
2. While recognizing that you might not yet feel calm, think about several options you might consider. I find focusing on problem-solving rather than problem identification, helps me a lot.
3. Even if you don’t feel self-confident, consider faking it until you make it. I often coach myself, "You can do this."
4. Can you think about ways you can create some serendipity here?
After the immediate problem, you can build your resiliency skills for the next time.
When you believe in yourself, it's not about being perfect. It's about having enough belief in yourself to consider options, possibly faking it until you achieve the outer calmness, and how to find a reasonable solution.
You don't need the "best" solution to believe in yourself. You need a single step forward to create more options
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