Dale Carnegie said, “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage.” What is the origin of confidence, and how can we get more of it for ourselves and our teams?

While cultivating a positive mindset is powerful, confidence doesn’t come from simply proclaiming we have it. As executive coach Lolly Daskal says in her book, Leadership Gaps, confident people aren’t confident because they stand in front of a mirror reciting affirmations. Confident people become confident by doing what they do well. Confident people use their strengths everyday and live in a supportive cycle of self-efficacy.  A supportive cycle, sometimes called a “virtuous cycle”, is the opposite of the “vicious cycle” that commonly describes self-sabotaging behavior. While the vicious cycle is a continuous loop of unproductive behavior, the supportive cycle reinforces behavior and beliefs that keep our performance and attitude at their peak levels.

Through experience and experiments, self-confident people find the work and activities they enjoy and excel at doing.  Then, they use their strengths—over and over—in their professions, hobbies, service to the community, families, and relationships. They position themselves in the center of a supportive cycle, with positive results producing more positive behaviors. Confident people have “found their jam,” and they’re playing it on repeat!

We can claim the benefits of this supportive cycle for ourselves. We may already know what we do well, and we just need to do more of it. Or, we may need to spend time defining our strengths and bravely test out a new direction. Either way, the more we accept who we naturally are, and do the things we naturally do well, the more confident and purposeful we will feel. As Don Clifton, creator of CliftonStrengths (formerly known as StrengthsFinder) said, “There is no more effective way to empower people than to see each person in terms of his or her strengths.”

The supportive cycle starts with just one behavior, and it sets a new course of events in motion. The confidence we hope for may not appear tomorrow, but each strength-based success will build on itself, the supportive cycle will continue, and we will be surprised at how strong we grow.

Download Dale Carnegie’s latest white paper on “Recognizing Leadership Blind Spots.”

Posted by MaryAnn Means-Dufrene

As Market President for Dale Carnegie North Texas, MaryAnn partners with organizations and individuals to build leadership capacity necessary for breakthrough performance. Through strategic partnerships, she creates customized skill development plans to increase employee engagement, boost individual and team productivity, and develop the kind of leaders people actually want to follow. MaryAnn has tremendous experience in collaborating with organizations in Tarrant County, previously serving as Executive Director of Susan G. Komen Greater Fort Worth and as Deputy Chief of Staff to Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price. She is a graduate of Texas A&M University with a degree in psychology and earned her Master of Public Administration and Master of Strategic Human Resource Management degrees from the University of Texas at Arlington. She is board chair for Presbyterian Night Shelter, board vice president for Girls Inc of Tarrant County, and serves on the board of directors of Women's Policy Forum and the Central Area Council for the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce. MaryAnn lives with her husband Matt, son Hogan, and two dogs Deuce and Lovey in Fort Worth, Texas.

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