How self-confidence at work can expand career opportunities

Next year more than half of UK firms expect to create new jobs according to a survey released this month from CBI/Accenture called, ‘On the up’. The report stated that 51 per cent of firms expect their workforce to be larger this time next year, the highest figure since the start of the recession in 2008.

With more jobs being created and the UK finally experiencing economic growth, 2014 could prove a fresh start for many people who have been considering a new job or a change of career but have held off looking during the recession.

However, the stumbling block for many people is their lack of self-confidence. Not having confidence can limit a person’s potential, career choices and progression. If people aren’t confident they believe they can’t achieve their dream job or haven’t the skills to move up the corporate ladder. Lack of confidence is often based on very self-critical thinking, fear of failure or from not having developed the right skills but expecting to have them.

Self-confidence is something we are born with and we can rebuild by evaluating our experiences in a more positive light, looking at past experiences as an opportunity to learn or at skills as something we just haven’t accomplished yet.  One way of building confidence is by changing our mind set from thinking, “we can’t do something” to “we can’t do something yet.”

What we think about ourselves often appears to be fact, something we can’t actually do anything about, but these are just opinions. They are based on experiences we’ve had and how we interpreted these experiences have shaped our beliefs about ourselves. If these experiences have been negative, the chances are that our beliefs about ourselves will be negative too, which affects our self-confidence.

Sometimes negative beliefs are reinforced by negative thinking and experiences later in life, such as workplace bullying or intimidation, abusive relationships, persistent stress or hardship, or traumatic events. Our opinion of ourselves is developed as a result of all these interactions and experiences throughout our lives.

Negative beliefs affect how people see their current reality, especially in the workplace, and how they ultimately progress in their career – it can limit possibilities and stop them achieving their potential.

For example if someone gets praised at work for doing a good job, people who are confident will accept the complements, but those who lack confidence may start wondering if their boss really meant it, and start to worry that they could do better.

Here are some tips on improving your self-confidence in 2014 that will help expand your career opportunities:

·         Change your thinking – focus on the positive and things you have done well not the negative. Write down one positive achievement every day, no matter how small and you will be surprised what you have achieved in a week.

·         If things haven’t gone to plan take it as an opportunity to learn from the mistakes. No one ever gets anywhere without making a few mistakes along the way.

·         Don’t be afraid to fail. Many entrepreneurs have failed during their working lives and gone on to achieve great things. Think about Richard Branson. He has launched close to a 100 companies, many of which have failed. No one remembers these, only the successes.

·         Ask people you respect what they think are your greatest strengths and then find ways to use those strengths more often. Be clear about your strengths and incorporate these into your work every day.

·         Instead of thinking “I can’t” – think “I can’t yet”. Make this your mantra and say it to yourself every day.

·         Challenge yourself to try something new. Find projects and assignments that give you an opportunity to use your strengths.

·         Fear of failure often stops us doing things, turn this on its head and make a commitment to do at least one thing you fear every month. This could be making a team presentation, attending a networking function alone or learning a new business skill.

·         Don’t compare yourself to others. People are often tempted to compare themselves to colleagues or friends and think ‘I wish I was thinner, more successful etc., but what they fail to realise is the person who is thinner, might attend a gym three times a week and eat very sensibly. Often confidence we see in others is a result of a lot of hard work.

·         A lack of confidence isn’t pervasive. People need to think about other areas of their lives where they do feel confident – they may be good a cook for example or good at sport.  If this confidence was channelled into the workplace then it could have a very positive impact.

·         Think about where you want to go in 2014 and create an achievable plan with set goals. Make sure you regularly review these goals to keep on track for success. You can use an executive coach to help you formulate these goals.

·         Have a positive attitude and remain upbeat, when challenges emerge. People are drawn to positive people and this helps to build confidence in the workplace.

Executive Coach, Marielena Sabatier, CEO, Inspiring Potential works with businesses and helps executives develop and boost their confidence to improve their performance at work.