Good Reads: Are You Confident?

Katy Montgomery

Katy currently serves as the Global Director of the Career Development Centre at INSEAD where she manages career services professionals across three campuses: Abu Dhabi, Fontainebleau, and Singapore. Katy previously served as the Associate Dean for Student Development at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School.

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Are You Confident?

Confidence is important. In fact, Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, authors of The Confidence Code, “found that success correlates more closely with confidence than it does with competence.” Confident people tend to be the most beloved in a group, are linked to doing (“confidence is a characteristic that distinguishes those who imagine from those who do”) and are the most authentic, “warts and all.”

If you answered “no” or “not as much as I would like to be” to the question about whether you are confident or not, the good news is that you can make your brain more confident-prone. Here are some tips:

  • Take Risks: Create a cycle of trial, responsibility, and success. IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde’s parents provided this for her when she was a young girl babysitting her siblings. Trying something, increasing the level of responsibility as time passes, and experiencing success build confidence.
  • Experience Failure: The authors encourage readers to fail fast. Failing fast is common in the start-up world and can help you learn not to take failure so seriously. It allows you to quickly move toward a solution (or become more confident).
  • “Dare the Difference:” Stop measuring yourself against everyone else. According to Ohio State University psychologist Jennifer Crocker, “people who base their self-worth and self-confidence on what others think of them don’t just pay the mental price; they pay the physical price, too.” You come from a different set of experiences, training, and natural born talents than everyone else in the world—why not be yourself, and use what is YOU to YOUR advantage? Don’t jettison your natural advantages.
  • Don’t Take It Personally: Ever gotten negative feedback on a work report? Less than a stellar review on a group project? Remind yourself it is about the work, not about you. Thinking these are personal attacks can kill your confidence. Stop, breathe, get some perspective and remember you are not the center of the universe.
  • Avoid Inaction: When in doubt, act. If you are uncomfortable speaking up in a meeting, try it. If you have a fear of public speaking, find an opportunity to present to a group of your peers. You may fail, but you will also realize that the failure was not so catastrophic.
  • Don’t Ruminate: NATs are negative automatic thoughts. They buzz around you and kill confidence. Some of you may experience the NATs by overthinking, failing to let go of defeats, and obsessing about perfection. Kay and Shipman give very specific guidelines to challenge and reduce NATs, including recognizing them and finding alternative points of view.

Go forth and be confident. To get a sense of where you may fall on the Confidence Code scale, take this online assessment; it only takes 5-7 minutes. And, no matter what the results, don’t take it personally and don’t ruminate!

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