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.