‘With realisation of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world.’
His Holiness the Dalai Lama
How confident are you in your job?
1-10? (Not at all – couldn’t be more confident?)
Now, what score do you think your colleagues would give you?
Is there a gap? A big gap?
Many of my coachees, especially those that may be labelled as ‘high achievers’, actually have a really big gap between their own feelings of confidence and their perception of how confident others see them. They feel safe enough to talk about this in the coaching space, but wouldn’t dream of showing this vulnerability in the workplace – to anyone!
I listen as our amazing leaders and educators talk about the mask they wear at work; how they ‘perform’ as an actor would and how they doubt the decisions they make – all the time! How they don’t feel they should be in the position they are in, and that they dread being challenged – and fear being ‘found out’.
This is classic ‘imposter syndrome’. These people are actually highly competent, deeply caring and extremely conscientious human beings. They are successful in being promoted to positions of high responsibility, performance management reviews recognise and reward their work, and their colleagues speak very highly of them.
This chronic lack of self-confidence causes feelings of stress, frustration, insecurity, anxiety, and can stop people sleeping, eating properly or generally feeling ‘on top’ of things. It can lead to depression, or even breakdown.
Relationships suffer – none more so than the relationship with the ‘self’.
I feel so privileged that my coachees bring this into the coaching space and, through our work together, start to feel stronger, more resilient – and begin to grow in confidence and manage their harsh inner critics.
It’s completely normal to have these negative thoughts.
It’s our brain’s way of protecting us.
Our brain is saying, ‘Don’t be different, don’t stand out!.’
And to many, that actually means – Don’t be too successful!
I recently started to coach a headteacher of a large, urban primary school.
He told me that he was close to leaving.
He has just led his school through myriad of unprecedented challenges of a global pandemic; but now things are settling down a little, he continues to be full of self-doubt.
He said he has always felt that he puts on a mask when he goes to work.
“I know I do a good job. But I continually worry that someone else could do better and that I shouldn’t be leading the school. I’m anxious that something will happen that I can’t manage and it will be discovered that I am not a good leader.’
I asked him what his confidence level was at work.
“About 4 out of 10, maybe 5 on a good day.”
He wanted it to be much higher.
He expected it to be much higher.
He was motivated for it to be much higher…but was at a loss as to how to increase it.
Through our coaching conversations, we worked on identifying his strengths; he realised he wasn’t taking any time to reflect on these and the positive impact of his leadership. Between our sessions, he started to build in time for reflection and also to explicitly notice the times his inner critic was at its strongest. He also realised that he never received feedback from his colleagues, and so was making assumptions that no feedback was negative feedback. As we continued to work, he started to spot patterns and build a range of strategies for asking for authentic feedback.
And with this, came much less assuming (the worst) and much more positivity.
I am delighted to say that we still have an excellent school leader in post.
He feels much happier, more secure in himself and the decisions he makes – and much more healthy.
In our most recent session, I asked, ‘What is your level of confidence at work?’
He looked thoughtful and replied, “About 7.5 out of 10 – and increasing.”
Transformative coaching is all about helping you to learn more about yourself.
You have the internal resources, the inner strengths and qualities, the values you need to face the challenges of life and to move forwards in your work, your relationships and your goals.
When we know what our values are, we can use them to make wise decisions for ourselves and others. Our values are at our core and can serve us so well – when we use them.
Sometimes, when we are struggling with something, it’s because the situation we are in is causing a conflict with our values-system. Sometimes we need someone to hep us see the amazing qualities we have inside of ourselves – and how we can use these to live happier and more positive lives.