Leaders require mental toughness and resilience under fire. How do we develop self confidence in our careers? Since none of us are immune to mistakes along the way, how do we handle those so that we continue to build confidence without sweeping them under the carpet?
It all has to do with mindset, that is, how we perceive our mistakes and achievements. Mindset refers to an individual’s belief about oneself and one’s most basic qualities, such as talent, intelligence, and personality. Fixed mindsets are characterized by the belief that one’s basic qualities are fixed—as if genetically predetermined. Individuals with fixed mindsets believe that practice has no relationship to performance success, which has been shown to be maladaptive across domains.
Growth mindsets are characterized by the belief that talents and abilities are things that are developed through effort, practice and instruction. Individuals with growth mindsets feel that they control their success, rather than external forces, so they are better able to problem solve and persist through setbacks.
Research has shown that growth mindsets foster a more positive attitude toward practice and learning, a desire for feedback, a greater ability to deal with setbacks, and significantly better performance over time. Those with a “fixed mindset” believe that abilities are mostly innate and interpret failure as the lack of necessary basic abilities, while those with a “growth mindset” believe that they can acquire any given ability provided they invest effort or study.
Which mindset do you think you usually adopt? When do you think with a fixed mindset? I think most people fluctuate between the two. What do you think?
Two main qualities contribute to real self-confidence: self-efficacy and self-esteem.
- We gain a sense of self-efficacy when we see ourselves mastering skills and achieving goals that matter. This is the confidence that, if we learn and work hard in a particular area, we’ll succeed; and it’s this type of confidence that leads people to accept difficult challenges, and persist in the face of setbacks.
- This overlaps with the idea of self-esteem, which is a more general sense that we can cope with what’s going on in our lives, and that we have a right to be happy.
The Confidence-Achievement Link
“If you want confidence, get out there and do something. Achieve. Because nothing can replace the confidence of achievement. When it comes to confidence, achievement is gold, silver and bronze all rolled into one.” ~ Robert Kelsey, What’s Stopping You Being More Confident? (Capstone 2012)
Some people believe that self-confidence can be built with affirmations and positive thinking. There’s some truth in this, but it’s just as important to build self-confidence by setting and achieving goals―thereby building competence. Without this underlying competence, you don’t have self-confidence: you have shallow over-confidence, with all of the issues, upset and failure that this brings.