A few months ago, I wrote about impostor syndrome and how it could impact your earning. Talking recently with a colleague about my career aspirations and how I’d like to move more into a writing based role, these words came out of my mouth… ‘I assumed I’d have to look for internal jobs as no one external would look at me.’ – I had impostor syndromed myself!
So many people suffer with impostor syndrome – that is, the feeling that if you’re successful you’ll be found out as a fraud. I read today that when Jodie Foster won her Oscar, she was convinced that someone would come and knock on her door to tell her they had made a mistake, saying that Meryl Streep should have won, instead! Ms Streep, ironically, has also gone on record to say she doesn’t understand why people keep hiring her, as she doesn’t know how to act. There’s lots of movie evidence to contradict that opinion.
As my own personal war on low self-esteem, I’ve decided to write a follow up, sharing some top tips to give your career a well needed confidence boost.
Yes we can! The biggest enemy to your confidence is self-doubt. For me, this is a big issue. I sometimes feel like I’m nothing more than a job title, and that when someone’s sifting CVs, they’ll see that I’ve been a trainer for nine years and wouldn’t consider me for a communications job. I need to give myself a talking to and say ‘I have the transferable skills to make me an asset to a communications team.’ I still need to be realistic (NASA won’t be hiring me any time soon…), but telling myself that I’m not good enough is the first step to failure.
Talk the talk! You can tell when someone lacks confidence; their speech is less direct, they don’t make eye contact, and they tend to trail off. If you know you lack confidence but need to have an important conversation, plan out your points in advance – what you want to discuss, why you want to discuss it, and think about timing are three good starting points. Knowing what you want will make you feel more comfortable asking for it.
Fake it! As I’ve said previously, I’m a big fan of Amy Cuddy‘s TED talk on power posing. A quick take away is practicing a powerful stance before you go into ‘battle’ (i.e the situation where you need to be confident). Find a quiet space where you can be by yourself, take off your shoes (if appropriate – not recommended if the only secluded spot is the loo!), and plant your feet firmly into the floor. Breathe deeply, stand up tall, push your shoulders back, and hold your head up high. Stay like this for two minutes to really feel the benefit. Try to keep good posture and openness the whole time you need to be confident – you will look cool even if you’re a bag of nerves!
Join a gang! A great way of building confidence is expanding your network. You’ll find like-minded people who will be quick to tell you what you’re good at – this is always a great confidence booster! Make sure you’re dishing out the praise, too – is Tom always efficient in replying to your emails? Tell him! Is Anna always good to collaborate with? Let her know! You will, in turn, become the go-to bod for something (providing you’re pulling your weight, of course). Make a note of positive feedback you receive, just in case. It can be so easy if someone criticised you to cry into a bucket of ice cream, repeating ‘I suck’ over and over again (not that I’ve ever done that… mentioning it for a friend…), and forgetting the 100+ other times someone said they couldn’t have completed a project without you. Remember the compliments, and work on the feedback!
Fail! Always remember The Phantom Menace. This film was awful and, by rights, should have killed the careers of superb actors like Natalie Portman, Ewan McGregor, and Liam Neeson (to name a few). In fact, it should have killed off the entire Star Wars franchise, it was that bad. But, it didn’t. Natalie Portman won two Golden Globes and an Oscar following her appearance in the movie. Ewan McGregor was recently named the highest paid actor in the world. Liam Neeson is in all the films – you have to work pretty hard not to find him in the cinema! The point is, even very talented people make the odd boo-boo so, if you do, don’t beat yourself up about it. Besides, no mistake you make will be as bad as The Phantom Menace…
Challenge yourself today to stand up tall, believe in yourself, and go for what you want. Whether you succeed or fail, do it confidently, and with style. Yes, you can!