Have you ever thought that you have SO much to offer, but you keep getting passed up or spoken over when you're in a group sharing your ideas, opinions, or knowledge? Whether at work or in your personal life, how confident you are in yourself, the career path you've chosen, and where you are in life have so much influence on the way you impress others and continue to evolve. We are all social creatures by nature and we crave connection from others. Why do you think we want everyone to like us?! Ok, hopefully you're past that and should appreciate the fact that you may not be everyone's cup of tea. That will only make more room for you to have even more fulfilling relationships with your future soul sisters and your tribe.
I can remember the first time that I felt like I just didn't belong where I was in my career. I was working for a small communications company and had no idea what I really wanted to do long-term. I started out as a receptionist and just fell into HR, felt major imposter syndrome, and then after nearly 10 years found my passion lied within the learning and development space. I've always loved teaching others, being a leader, and hell - I was even the head cheerleader in high school. You'll understand why it's important for you to know that in a minute. I was like the Daria of cheerleading. How I became the head cheerleader is beyond me and I wasn't the most confident girl in the world; however I did a few things to turn that around, researched and tested a few tools, and this is what I swear by.
I found that women more often than not struggled with ... confidence! That then spilled into career development, personal branding, and networking. Guess what? I've found that these areas are nearly impossible to get right if you lack confidence in who you are and what you bring to the table. I mean, how could you possibly network effectively if you're not confident in who you are or what you do? #notpossible. So, how can we become more confident in the workplace? I'm going to break down the top 3 steps I've taken to increase my confidence and the actions that you can take as soon as you finish reading this while you're all hyped up. You're not going to wait on elevating yourself, are you? Let's dive into my top 3 proven ways to increase your impact in this world by increasing your confidence.
1. Own your personality.
You probably haven't done this in a while, but it's time to take an inventory of yourself and what you bring to the table. I sometimes work and write while listening to my gangsta rap playlist on Spotify. It's just who I am and people love to hear it because it's something they probably hide about themselves. Do you, boo. If it helps for you to pull out your resume or list of goals from last year that you completed or may not have even scratched the surface on, do it. It's time to appreciate who you are and what you've done to get here.
What are some of the things you're REALLY passionate about? What do you find yourself drawn to? How do you like to spend your free time? Why is that? Often times, we discount the things that we care about because it's hard to see how the hell that fits into our career plan or larger life plan because we are told that you have to keep your work life and personal life so separated. That's the first problem. It's simply NOT true. While it's important to maintain professionalism in the workplace, it doesn't mean that you have to live a double life. BE YOU!
If you're already passionate about something, I can tell you that you've got a gateway to confidence starting there because not only do you have a passion to share, but it's a genuine interest that you don't have to fake an interest in. When people see passion, they trust you and can feel confidence in the conviction you have in your voice. If you're not quite sure what your personality type is or how it fits into your career, your relationships, or your overall life, be sure to take the personality assessment that I mentioned in ways to step up your professional game. All the ah-ha moments that my girlfriends and clients share are amazing. You already got what everybody needs, girl. Embrace your inner Cardi B and get it. Do you see how quickly she grew her career by owning who she is?! Incredible. You can't even be mad at her hustle.
2. Develop an action plan.
It's crazy to think about all how far so many women have come with confidence to own their stories and their personalities. Take Maya Angelou, for example. Look at the Oprah's and the Brene Brown's of the world. Do you think they just flew off the cuff to land their success? Hell no. They had a plan! Let's be real here. Do you know what next step you want to take to grow, help, or serve others? I'm assuming you have a job and that job ultimately requires you to help other people. I don't care if you're a receptionist, a department coordinator, or a the lady responsible for ordering lunch for the guy in the corner office (all jobs I've had, BTW). We all start somewhere. It took me 10 years to find my passion, and I probably would have found it sooner if I would have put in the self work to understand and appreciate myself sooner. If you find that you've got major eye rolls happening everyday because you're not fulfilled, this is critical for you to do because it's time for you to find out what you should be dedicating your life to or what you already bring to the table. I promise you'll be much more confident just knowing that.“In studies, men overestimate their abilities and performance, and women underestimate both. Their performances do not differ in quality.” – The Confidence Gap (K. Kay and C. Shipman, May 2014)
Evidence shows that women are less confident than men in the workplace and I would take that a step further to say that women are less confident in social settings based on some of the apparent scrubs with no fighting chance that have ALL the confidence in the world to approach me out in the streets. Literally. While I'm walking my dog. I'd never do that. But to succeed, women must show that they are sure of their worth and professional skills. Why do women shy away from taking a seat at the table? It's time to speak up. I've asked many friends and colleagues about their general confidence level, and its pretty interesting that more often than not, women are taking on the "fake it till you make it" approach. Well, I say "fake it till you feel it!". The head cheerleader phase of my life was probably where I did that best. I can't say I was ever in the mood to bust out spirit fingers for all the jocks on the football team, but I did and I wanted the title and status. I also felt very insecure being bi-racial at that time and feeling that I didn't deserve it over someone who 'looked' like they should have played that part. I no longer have this mentality and increased confidence has helped me to grow out of that mindset. In the corporate world, I still want the title and the status, but it doesn't mean nearly as much. Making an impact, regardless of a title is much more important. I find that I still need to fake it at times, but now I can fake it till I feel it with a plan.
When you create an action plan and stick to it, 1-3 years from now you will be screaming out #weinhere when you're looking back on the previous life you have appreciating how far you've come with a dedicated plan and commitment. I like how MindTools breaks down how to write SMART goals: SMART is a well-established tool that you can use to plan and achieve your goals. While there are a number of interpretations of the acronym's meaning, the most common one is that goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. When you use SMART, you can create clear, attainable and meaningful goals, and develop the motivation, action plan, and support needed to achieve them. I'm all about simplicity! Setting goals and creating your plan can be much easier than you think. *gasp*
3. Network your ass off.
Now, rule number 1 here is not to go add a ton of random LinkedIn connections and not try to engage in some form of personal communication. I've done that and if you have, clean it up this year. Start going through those connections, reaching out, saying hi and simply wishing them a wonderful year ahead. It's easy to be anti-social these days with all of the scrolling, swiping, and liking that we do. It's time that you truly connect. If you add me, you better say hey! Get out there. NETWORK! This is the area that I absolutely hated, dreaded, could not STAND. Do you remember the first networking event you ever attended? Networking events aren't all about boozing up and socializing with people you already know. #duh ... you'd be surprised how many people early into their career have no clue how to network. One of my favorite podcast episodes about networking featured a woman who said that she gave people something to remember her by, which included ensuring that they new she started out as a stripper and is now running her own business coaching and helping other women to become more confident in themselves (ps. she's no longer stripping, and I wasn't referring to Cardi B, but that's basically her story too.)
The reason she tells people that is because you would NEVER expect to meet someone at a networking event and have them introduce themselves as a former stripper. She didn't have to hand them a business card or worry about them forgetting who she was though because she gave them a story they would never forget that intrigued them, and ended with what she is now able to do. Now, I know we aren't all coming from a background like that, but there are things about us that led us to where we are. Being comfortable with your past, sharing your story and being #straightup with people will get you far. Networking is all about making connections. What better way to connect with people than sharing with them more about WHY you do what you do, versus handing out your generic business card and rattling off the shit you're responsible for each day? That is boring AF and no one will care to remember that. I recommend going with a friend so you can at least know one familiar face, peep the scene, decide who you're interested in getting to know, and work the room. I always make it a point to go talk to the person who seems to attract everyone in the room to them, that I tend to be most intimidated by. 9 times out of 10, the person I would have assumed to be "too good to talk to me" or "looks like a total bitch" is actually the complete opposite and we have good conversation. I'd also recommend that you consider joining a women's network. That's been a HUGE part of my growth (when I use the tools) because the network is filled with women who all have common growth goals and it's an instant support system with additional perks like exclusive events, webinars, and articles. I truly appreciate you reading this and you're here because you want to become more confident and I know that you will. Be patient with yourself and embrace the daily opportunities you have to practice. If I can help you at all, reach out to me and let's talk!
Now get out there and WERK! You got this, girl. I'd love to hear from you. Which tip are you going to implement this week, and why is this important for you now? Leave your thoughts below directly in the comments.
Brittanni Below, MBA is a coach, speaker, and trainer based in Houston, TX that provides services to help fierce and self-driven women to live a more balanced, healthy, and more fulfilling life. By fully understanding your unique talents and gifts and what is distracting you from being successful, Brittanni helps you transform fear, lack of confidence, and life challenges, into lessons that push you to crush the goals that you've set for yourself. If you're interested in personal coaching, book a session with Brittanni here.