Wish you were one of the confident ones?
I’ve been noticing for a while now, how many women I work with seem to lack confidence in their abilities.
When I ask in the early stages of coaching, or even in development reviews “What is it you would like to achieve?” I hear answers like:
“I just want to feel more confident”
“I would love to communicate more confidently”
“I think if my confidence improves, a lot of other things would follow”
"I wish I had more confidence around ..."
You name it - there’s a lack of confidence around it. And I think it's more than just a bit of healthy self-doubt.
What is particularly striking is that no amount of seeing themselves achieve amazing things seems to boost their confidence. And the smallest thing seems to knock it.
Recently, a new coaching client brought a profiling outcome to her first session. It mapped her results against the “norm”. A graph that basically said “this is where you fall short”. I was gobsmacked!
This is an incredible woman, achieving amazing things in her career, and this self development tool had just served up a major confidence blow.
And where did she score particularly low? In “Self-Efficacy” of all things!
Self-efficacy, a concept originally proposed by the psychologist Albert Bandura, refers to an individual's belief in their capacity to execute behaviours necessary to produce specific performance attainments. (Souce - Wikipedia)
I was lucky. I grew up being told I could do and achieve whatever I wanted to, and believed it. When I was 8, I decided I wanted to be a Doctor for example, and fully believed that was possible for many years (until A-level chemistry got the better of me!).
But gradually over the years, as I entered the “grown up” world, my confidence waned. My own self-efficacy ended up pretty low. Everywhere I turned, the world seemed to think it knew better than me. Bosses that were so super confident in their own opinions that they undermined mine, people everywhere who asserted they knew better than me (gradually of course convincing me that I must be wrong). Media (social or otherwise) showing me images of perfect mums holding down their high powered jobs in their perfectly kept houses with their perfect size 8 figures……
These things still affect my confidence regularly. The world seems pretty stacked against us in that respect. But I do see a way out now, that seems to be working.
By regularly and deliberately creating space for myself to think with a skilled Thinking Partner, I am learning to trust myself again.
I’m seeing that what I think is often pretty cool, sometimes impressive even! I am intelligent, I problem solve well, I can be creative. So I am learning to care more about what I think than what anyone else thinks of my thinking.
It is liberating and empowering. And it is increasing my self-efficacy.
There's real power in watching how we think
Last week, I spent time with two amazing women, introducing them to the magic of the Thinking Partnership session. Both developed skill in listening and supporting each other (and me) to think well. But something else happened.
As they observed each other (and themselves) think within this framework, they got better at it, and quickly! They began to trust themselves more, their thinking became clearer, and they made some incredible breakthroughs. Entirely for themselves. Both left with more confidence in their own thinking than they arrived with.
It left me thinking a lot about the Thinking EnvironmentTM component of Encouragement, which I have written about before and is defined as:
Giving the courage to go to the cutting edge of our thinking by ceasing competition as thinkers
The simple question that we ask (often many times) in a Thinking Partnership session “What more do you think, or feel, or want to say” encapsulates that.
It gives courage.
Even when the Thinker falters and their confidence in their own ability to break through seems to wane. Even when they are internally begging for us to rescue them - it seems to say:
"You might think you need my help, but you don’t. I believe in you. You’ve got this."
Beautiful, empowering, and brilliantly simple.
I've noticed this in coaching too. Those same people who come seeking more confidence, gradually gain it. Not from any brilliant insights on my part, but from being given space to think for themselves in the presence of powerful, generative attention. In the presence of Encouragement in the true, courage giving, sense of the word.
The observation that underpins the Thinking Environment work of Nancy Kline and Time to Think (which I am privileged to work with and teach) is this:
The quality of everything we do as human beings, depends on the quality of the thinking that we do first.
So perhaps the quality of our belief in our ability, depends on the quality of our belief in our ability to think?
I am seeing that by gaining confidence in the quality of our thinking, we can gain confidence in the quality of our actions. And this can help us fight back against a world that makes us question ourselves.
So I'm holding a question:
Could building confidence in our ability to think for ourselves be the most important step towards improving our confidence and self-efficacy?
That seems pretty exciting to me.
What do you think?
If you would love to increase your confidence and self-efficacy, I would love to hear from you. As well as offering individual coaching, I am running another Thinking Partnership course later this year (and if the dates don’t work, check out other options here).
Please do get in touch, I would love to hear from you.