Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about confidence. It shows up in everything I touch. Every facet of my life seems to be a reflection of my level of confidence. I know that everyone faces situations that test and challenge their confidence, and that depending on the activity or circumstance, our confidence level shifts. Every single day, as sales professionals, we must undertake activities that test our mettle. I mean, who is honestly excited about cold calling? Who enjoys standing in front of a room roleplaying with your manager? Who truly feels at ease speaking in front of a room of strangers? It’s a given, we’d love to have that “I got this‘‘ feeling all the time. And as I’ve been recently reflecting, I believe there are three distinct levels of confidence:
- Level 1: Smoke-blowing confidence
- Level 2: Results-driven confidence
- Level 3: The real-deal confidence
The first level, smoke-blowing confidence, is the stuff that we tell ourselves (and usually anyone who will listen) how prepared and ready we are for whatever lies in front of us. This usually happens when we try to impress others into believing we’re better than we are in a blow-hard kind of way. This might look like walking into a high stakes meeting or making a sales call with zero preparation and kidding yourself that it’s going to work out. Or perhaps it is not asking for help, when you know you really could use it because you’re afraid of what others might think.
Results driven is the second and most common level of confidence. It is where our self-perception is framed within the tangible evidence of the work we do and the accomplishments we attain. When things are going well, when we are hitting our numbers, when we are being praised and acknowledged, our confidence builds and our perception of ourselves is validated. However, if our results start to tank, we begin to question our ability and ourselves. That tiny voice inside our head begins to whisper, “See, I told you so.‘‘
Results-driven confidence is cyclical and deceptive and it never ends because we’re constantly trying to validate ourselves by providing more and better evidence of our accomplishments. We continually try to respond to the “See, I told you so‘‘ voice with “But look at what I just did, see, I’m good at what I do.‘‘
When we are free from the need to chase after proof of our value, we have arrived at the last level of confidence: The real deal. This stage is where you know you can handle whatever is thrown at you. In short, your results do not define you. You believe in yourself and your belief is not incumbent upon a skill or piece of knowledge in your possession. And it’s important to note that this does not mean you’ll get it right every single time. The subtle distinction lies in the knowledge that you know you’ll always take whatever happens and get back up and try again.
Real-deal confidence allows you to be embarrassed without losing selfworth. You’re resilient, you’re okay with silence, and you’re okay if you don’t know the answer.
Every one of us battles our personal gremlin who whispers self-limiting incantations into our psyche. The voice that reminds us of perceived past wrongs or failures or embarrassing moments. Think about it, what do you do when you hear this voice? Do you listen to it? Do you ignore it? Do you argue with it? Do you laugh at it? Each of these responses is an indication of your relationship with your self-worth.
When all is said and done, it’s important to know — instead of focusing on how you may have screwed up — you allow yourself the freedom to focus on what you can do better the next time and you course-correct in the moment. This allows you to pivot to success. Real-deal confidence is an in-the-moment game, play it as if you cannot lose.
From MENTOR. April 2018;9(4): 8-9.