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  • Jo Stone

Is the Sector Suffering from a Crisis of Confidence

What is confidence?

The dictionary definition of “confidence” is the quality of being certain of your abilities or of having trust in people, plans, or the future.


In my experience of coaching fundraisers (and individuals from the commercial sector) there is a common denominator they all share – a lack of confidence.


However, what “confidence” means to one person can be very different to the next. At the same time people experience different triggers for their crisis of confidence. Some individuals have had limiting beliefs since their early years, and the inner thoughts constantly leading them to doubt themselves. Others may have stepped into a new sector, job or a more senior role – and suddenly find themselves using the fashionable label of “imposter syndrome”. Others may have been impacted by one individual whether that be a peer, a team member or their line manager – resulting in them feeling less certain of the value they add. These are just a few different, but common, types of confidence crises I come across as a coach.


Often, without individuals realising, their lack of confidence in the workplace begins to bleed into their personal lives and vice versa. They can get stuck in a negative cycle of limiting beliefs and inner dialogue. And this cycle inevitably results in increased stressed levels, decreased productivity and a general sense of not being good enough.


Surely confidence needs a benchmark?

When someone lacks self-belief in their value or abilities, surely this is against some benchmark they have set themselves – often without even realising this. If you do not feel good enough – in comparison to who? Good enough for what? If you believe you don’t add value – value to who? According to whose judgement of value?


It is this harsh inner critic that holds people back, reinforcing their limiting beliefs and even seeing evidence where none exists i.e., they didn’t mention my report, it is obviously not good enough to use.


Self-belief is about trusting in your own views, opinions and worth. And this can be nigh on impossible for people who listen to others and benchmark themselves against how good they perceive them to be, or even worse against what those people may think of you.


The ability to establish your own realistic inner benchmark of success is essential. One that is not influenced by anyone other than yourself. Imagine if there was no one else to compare yourself against. How different would your inner thoughts be then?


We wouldn’t worry about how much better they look, or come across, or when someone else gets promoted etc. We wouldn’t worry about not being good enough – good enough for who?


It is not simple, and it takes work, but you just need to decide that you only need to be good enough for yourself. And define what that means to you, being realistic and considering what you would advise a friend.


And, what can we do about this?

Every single one of us has the power to take control and make positive changes. Other people may try and stop you, but only you have the power to allow them to do so. You are your own worst critic.


When you have those inner doubts – which we all do – ask yourself:


On a scale from 1-10 how strongly do I doubt myself right now?

10 = all the time, I will never be good enough and 1 = I know I have got this and will be great.


What would my best friend say if I told them what I feel? Or my colleague/boss?


When have I succeeded in the past?


What would I tell my best friend if they felt this way?


What evidence do I have that I am not good enough?

And, what evidence is there that I am good enough?


Will I have more chance of success if I tell myself I am no good?

How does this inner dialogue serve me right now?

What does it stop me doing, or make me do?


If I was to think the complete opposite, what would that thought be?

What actions would I have taken to be thinking in that manner?

What feelings or thoughts would I have had to have taken on those actions?


And then re-evaluate, on a scale of 1-10 how strongly do I doubt myself right now?

10 = all the time, I will never be good enough and 1 = I know I have got this and will be great.


There are many different tools I use to coach my clients through self-doubt and a lack of confidence. The most important first step is in recognising your own self sabotage (or even someone else’s contribution) and committing to changing this way of thinking by challenging your own inner dialogue. For more information please contact me at jo@stepping-stones-coaching.com

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