Sports is one life’s activity where the correlation between confidence and performance is most vivid. I follow the English Premier League and some results just amaze me. A couple of weeks ago, Leicester City Football Club (LCFC) set the record for the widest margin win in an away victory in the league; they beat Southampton 9-0. On that match day, you would have thought that LCFC was playing against a non-league side; almost every ball that went into Southampton goal area ended up in the net. It was a show of shame from the host team.
Twelve matches after, it was time for the return fixture, with LCFC at home and Southampton away; no one would have expected the team that was run over in the first leg to stand a chance, but Southampton did win the match, though not with as wide a margin. Before that match, Southampton had won a few key matches, and stole points from the very elite teams in the league like Chelsea: they were high on confidence and with the same team, they turned the shame around to glory.
This article focuses on how a confident disposition makes you perform better, and the specific impact of good personal image on your confidence level.
Confidence, according to Merriam-Webster dictionary is defined as a feeling or belief that you can do something well or succeed at something. Can anything great be done without this quality? Human civilization and inventions that have shaped the way we live in today’s world happened because some people had the confidence to attempt the impossible things. Inventors are not always the best or the smartest, tallest or the richest, they were simply people who believed in themselves.
Confidence is the quality that puts your skills into overdrive at work, perpetually or momentarily; and where your skill is deficient, it props other assets you have to make up for it.
At interviews, HR is always looking for signs of confidence in a potential employee, whether the credential is stellar or not. It could be the way the person appears talks, gesticulates or narrates the way he or she applied competency in a difficult situation. Suddenly the ‘incomplete’ certification doesn’t matter anymore, because the soft skill that drives performance and development has been spotted.
When you are in that zone of self-assurance, you can take on anything; and you have to do everything you can to maintain that state of mind because you are better for it, and your organization is to.
Source of Confidence
I have decided to put the different possible source or factors that affect confidence or lack of it into three:
- The Environment
- External Affirmation
- Self Awareness and Personal Development
1. The Environment
The confidence level of a worker could be aided or diminished by:
– Working condition: a good work environment can elevate the level of confidence of individuals and teams working in an organization. Caring organizations are more likely to have confident workers.
– The brand: when you work for a reputable brand, the chances are you will feel confident more consistently, especially when dealing with colleagues from places with a weaker brand image.
– Location: where you are working from can also add to your confidence at work or reduce it. A newly deployed expatriate could feel low in confidence at the new international post, having been taken out of familiar terrain.
2. External Affirmation
Confidence grows dramatically when good vibes come from people we are surrounded by- people whose opinion matters to us; and the converse is also true.
– Boss/mentor/parents’ Affirmation: A statement like “you are not as smart as you think you are” from a revered boss can do great damage to someone who has been fighting with the limiting belief that he or she is not smart. Anyone with the priviledge of overseeing the work of others should be mindful of words used and be fair in criticizing.
-Admiration and Acceptance of Peers: All you need to do here is cast your mind back to your primary school days and remember the teacher’s favourite pupil and class best. He or she was the one leading almost all the clubs in school and got the lead role in a drama. This pupil is unknowingly riding on the respect and admiration of peers, and the buoyed confidence makes him attempt anything without fear. The same thing happens to grownups in the office. We all can use some admiration and respect.
3. Self Awareness and Personal Development
You should know what you can and cannot do and accepting it is the first step towards building a great level of self-confidence. Low confidence and self-esteem are magnified when you begin to compare yourself with others, and as a result, feel inadequate.
– Competence Level: you need to be know how good your skills are for the job you are doing, and what more you need to do to improve on it. An increase in competence level through training and experience will help to shore up confidence.
– Past Performance: past success or failure can affect the confidence level. The memory of success in a particular task in the past can generate internal momentum and healthy self-believe which can be applied to the current task to generate yet another success for self and the organization. For failures, learn why it happened and apply the lessons.
– Image and Personal Presentation: Great looks and social etiquette mastery are incredible sources of confidence. Not only will you feel good about yourself, but you can also expect the admiration of others, which when taken in can dispel any blue feeling instantly.
You cannot always control the environmental factors that give you confidence; neither can you demand admiration from people around you whenever you need it. The fact that your credentials and years of experience are not so great means you cannot always rely on these for giving yourself a shot of confidence boost you may need from time to time, or at an instance; there is always someone with better credentials and experience. But…you always have control over how favourably you are perceived and how irresistible you appear.
The feeling of social inadequacy presents real trouble because it is self-generated and self-directed, and it can be experienced by the Managing Director and the Gateman. However, it can be rid of by taking action to overhaul your image and personal presentation. The following steps may be a good place to start:
- Do a personal wardrobe audit; select the clothes that still fit, in good condition and are relevant for your current lifestyle, then get rid of the rest.
- The de-cluttering will make your wardrobe look lean, and that is a good incentive to start replacing old clothes with- new, quality, relevant and fitting items. You may not be able to do at once, you can make a plan.
- Learn to, and dress smart, paying attention to details: shirt collar, shoeshine, missing button, quality handbag, moderate makeup, etc
- Pay attention to how you smell. Get body spray that lasts and a good bottle of perfume. But do not overuse it. A nice aura around you will draw people in, like a moth to a candle flame. Also, keep your mouth smelling fresh at all times. If your breath stinks and you are lucky to know it, you cannot be confident speaking to people.
- Learn the etiquette of the workplace. Rude and crass people will always risk being rejected or alienated. Cussing and profanity will make you stick out like a sore thumb
- Master social etiquette, sometimes your image is tested at TGIF.
- Be a good listener and conversationalist, everyone needs a sounding board once a while.
- Be willing and ready to help others. The feeling of personal fulfillment and gratitude from someone else makes us feel worthy. Go-to guys at the office reign like kings.
When you feel confident about yourself and your abilities, your ‘feel good’ hormones are released and this helps us to unlock energy and creativity within for greater performance at work. Confident people enjoy certain advantages which makes them more productive:
- Confident people earn the respect of others and get collaboration easily.
- Confident people contribute better in team-based activities and tasks because they are at ease with others and trust their abilities.
- Confident people take more chances and engage creative instincts better because they are not afraid of judgment or criticism.
- Confident people waste less time which may have been spent second-guessing ideas, approach, and ability.
- Confident people require less management; every supervisor wants such people on their team.
- By being open to correction and criticism, confident people learn more and faster and climb the corporate ladder quicker.
- Confident people are objective in questioning or analyzing other people’s ideas; they understand that it’s not all about propping their views and making others look bad.
- Confident people are direct and courteous in their communication.
- Confident people easily recognize greatness and celebrate people’s successes genuinely. So, they are quick to connect with someone to learn from.
Going to work with a bounce in your steps will help you achieve more, and the effect is seen on a corporate level if there are more confident people in an organization. While making a training budget, HR should give some thought to soft skills training that will boost the confidence of their workers; productivity flows from within, not just in hardware, process improvement or software upgrade.
It’s hard to beat down a confident person!