In my last blog, I wrote about how to navigate in a world of peacocks and shared my top three messages based on my personal experience. This time I will share my top advice on how important self-confidence is for being successful at work. There is a myriad of books, ted-talks, videos and articles out there about this topic and I recommend you to search the web based on your own interests and needs. I will share what worked for me, what I learned from my own mistakes and how I became intentional about my own self-confidence.

Stop comparing yourself

Most of my career up until a few years ago I always compared myself to others and got caught up in a vicious circle of self-doubt.  Luckily it never stopped me reaching for the sky and I always pushed myself forward despite my fears and doubts. The issue is that I inflicted so much extra suffering on myself because of my internal narrative and because of people’s opinion. A few things you should know that will save you a lot of heartache, anxiety and unhealthy stress. First, we all know the famous quote:

“The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubt, while the stupid ones are full of confidence”.  Charles Bukowski

This is a problem because we make it one. A healthy balance between self-doubt and confidence will help you navigate your life the way you are supposed to. Don’t let self-doubt define you, but let it guide you to make calculated risks and achieve whatever you want to achieve. Second, why would you put so much energy into analyzing and comparing yourself with other people while you can use that energy to improve your skills and competencies, to learn new things, to break those glass ceilings that are waiting for you. We are all unique and no one can walk in someone else shoes, so don’t try. Focus on being you, the best version of you and inspire others along the way. And finally, if you google imposter syndrome and successful people you will find that these people suffer the most from it. Imposter syndrome is in a nutshell when you always feel like a fraud when you think others are so much better than you and you will never be at their standards.  What worked for me is to realize that the world does not revolve around me, but around the sun. People are less concerned with what you see as your imperfections than you are. And I always keep things in perspective realizing the impermanence of all that life brings us. So, when I am 80 years old, I want to have little regrets as possible!

Small minds talk about people, great minds talk about ideas

I am going to say this like it is: I was guilty too of gossip and I regret this. I know it is human nature, but we have a choice not to engage in putting other people down too feel better of ourselves. The instant gratification only last so long and your conscience always lingers in the background. Gossiping is also a sign of low self-confidence and people will always wonder if you talk about others in front of them, you are surely doing the same thing about them. Whenever you are drawn into kitchen talk that just does not feel right, walk away. Trust me, you will feel much better talking about ideas that will change the world and people lives. And you will also feel much better when you go to bed and when you are alone with your inner voice. A bit deep yet think about it. The people who are perceived with high levels of confidence are those who walk the talk. People who use their intellectual capacity for the good and who do not feel the need to impress for self-assurance. Being away for one month during my GMF fellowship around brilliant, accomplished and humble people who are truly change agents gave me such a refreshing perspective and I vowed never talk about people again who are not in my presence. And for those who know me realize that my Dutch side always prevails…

Become the CEO of yourself

I used to play the victim more often than taking ownership of my life, my actions and the consequences of my decisions. I still play the victim now and then, because I am not a machine and being intentional about your emotions 24/7 is not easy. I see this as a change in attitude and perspective, as in every situation we have a choice. Some may read this and think ..well, what about those that are disabled? Or those that are struck by severe diseases and have no choice? Or those that are suffering from all types of harassment? This is exactly what I used to think until I met people with disabilities who pushed boundaries I never think I will be able to push. Until I watched a Ted talk on how someone was paralyzed from his head to toes and yet against all odds, is now a bestselling author of the book:  The Gift of Adversity:  Overcoming Paralysis and Pain to Find Purpose. Or this Ironwoman who despite her polio and being on crutches all her life, won the toughest triathlon imaginable.  There are so many examples where when you change your perspective and attitude, your mental state changes. And when your mental state changes you become in charge of your emotions with the positive effect on your life. When you become in charge of your life instead of blaming your circumstances or people, you are your own CEO. And when you are your own CEO, freedom awaits and the sky is the limit. Recognizing that change does not happen overnight and often requires resilience gained from experience, failures and lessons learned and above all – your self-confidence and your ability to believe in yourself even when no one else does.

Stay tuned for part two where I will write about surrounding yourself with the right people, how knowledge is power and overcoming fears of public speaking.

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