Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 10th 2014 Contents B2
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Carol Kinsey Gorman
I ve been studying confidence
(especially as it relates to the ability
to deal optimally with change) for
the past 25 years. Confidence is the
personality trait most responsible
for an individual s ability to deal well
with organizational transitions. Con-
fident people are self-motivated, have
high self-esteem, and are willing to
take calculated risks.
Here are five ways to build your self-
1. Play to your strengths
I once gave a speech for the senior
management team of a software company
in Silicon Valley that was relocating out
of state. A few days later the president
of the company telephoned me to say,
"I have an administrative assistant who
is probably the brightest, most creative
person I ve worked with. The problem
is, she s married and can t move her fam-
ily. I was wondering if you would see her
for a private coaching session, so that
when she applies for a new job, she will
come across just as terrific as she really
is. I ll gladly pay for the session."
Of course, I agreed, and looked forward
to meeting this talented woman. When
she came into my office I said, "This is
a real pleasure. I ve heard so many terrific
things about you. Tell me about yourself.
What is it that you do exceptionally well?
What would you most want a prospective
employer to know about you?" The
woman was silent for several seconds.
Finally she sighed and said, "I really don t
know. I do a lot of things well, but when
I do them, I don t notice."
Competence, strangely enough, bears
little relationship to confidence. The fact
that you do your job extremely well does
not, by itself, insure that you are also
confident of your abilities. It is only when
you are aware of your competence that
you become confident.
My favorite tip for increasing awareness
of your strengths and talents is especially
effective right before a job interview or
any other important event in which you
want to project your most confident self.
First, think of a past success that filled
you with pride and a high sense of
achievement. (This doesn t have to be
taken from your professional life --
although I do encourage clients to keep
a "success log" so that they can easily
find an event.) Then recall the feeling of
power and certainty -- and remember or
imagine how you looked and sounded.
Recalling that genuine emotion will help
you embody it as you enter the meeting
room or walk up to the podium.
2. Watch your posture
You know that the way you feel affects
your body. If you are feeling insecure or
depressed, you tend to round your shoul-
ders, slump, and look down. If you are
upbeat and assured you tend to hold
yourself erect and expand your chest.
But did you know that the reverse is also
true? Your posture has a powerful impact
on your emotions and on the way that
others perceive you.
Research at Harvard and Columbia
Business Schools, shows that simply
holding your body in expansive, "high-
power" poses for as little as two minutes
stimulates higher levels of testosterone
-- the hormone linked to power and dom-
inance -- and lower levels of cortisol, one
of the stress hormones.
In addition to causing hormonal shifts
in both males and females, the researchers
found that these powerful postures lead
to increased feelings of power and a high-
er tolerance for risk. They also found
that people are more often influenced by
how they feel about you than by what
you re saying.
So before you go into a situation in
which you want to project your most
confident self, start by standing up
straight, pulling your shoulders back,
widening your stance and holding your
head high. Then put your hands on your
hips (think "Wonder Woman" or "Super-
man" pose). Just by holding your body
in this posture you will begin to feel surer
of yourself and to project self-assured-
3. Choose to be an optimist
In Chinese, the ideogram for crisis
combines two characters: One is the sym-
bol for danger, the other for opportunity.
So --- is the glass half-empty or half-
full? It s both. The only difference is
where you focus your attention.
Long before Dale Carnegie, the human
potential movement, or self-help videos,
a positive outlook was acknowledged to
be a crucial part of high-level achieve-
ment and confidence. In today s fast-
moving, competitive business environ-
ment, a positive, upbeat, "can-do"
attitude is vital for success.
Choosing not to dwell on negativity,
doesn t mean you should be oblivious to
potential danger. Rather, you can analyze
situations for both positive and negative
aspects, develop strategies to minimize
negatives and optimize positives, and
then focus on the upside of the situation.
Spending too much time worrying about
troublesome aspects or negative outcomes
is a waste of mental energy that saps
enthusiasm and confidence and makes
it more difficult to realize the potential
opportunities that are also inherent in
4. Loosen up
At another program, for a utility com-
pany on the East Coast, I was asked to
speak twice: once in the morning and
again in the afternoon. At the first session
I had just finished talking about the grow-
ing uncertainty that all organizations face
when an audience member asked, "If
everything is uncertain, what happens
to strategic planning? How can you make
any plans for an unknown future?"
It was a good question, and I answered
it by using the two sessions as an exam-
"I was hired to put on two identical
programs today, but you and I both know
that it is impossible for them to be iden-
tical even though I will use the same set
of Power Point slides for both presen-
tations. The differences will be deter-
mined by the makeup of the two audi-
ences --- how many attend, what their
energy level is, what questions they ask,
maybe even what they had for lunch.
And, of course, I too will be slightly
different depending on my energy level
and what I had for lunch, etc. I don t
know how the afternoon session will
be different, but I m certain that the
unexpected will happen.
As you prepare for the future you
need to set goals and make plans while
taking into account a multitude of con-
tingencies in a volatile environment.
And then you have to understand that,
despite your best efforts, the future
may not play out the way you planned,
and you will most probably be required
to reorient as conditions change --- fre-
quently in ways you never anticipat-
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