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In The Sound of Music, as Maria leaves the convent to become a governess, she buoys her confidence with song as she walks, only for it to evaporate abruptly as she arrives at the imposing gates of the home of Captain Von Trapp. Like Maria, all of us at some point have experienced a loss of confidence.
Many women find our confidence gets knocked sideways after life hits us with a curveball — think bereavement, burnout or redundancy. For others, confidence might feel like something other people have. The good news is confidence is something all of us have access to and you don’t need to change who you are to get it.
Strength doesn’t lie in numbers, strength doesn’t lie in wealth
When we think about confidence, many of us go straight to the stereotype. The broad-shouldered man roving the stage, commanding the attention of his audience without notes, or the polished boardroom woman, ready with a wish-I’d-thought-of-that comeback to any criticism. When we start to unpack it, this kind of confidence has a distinct quality to it. It’s competitive — it’s about being better than everyone else in the room. There’s also a sense of being in control…maybe a little too much in control.
You might admire that confident woman. Maybe even feel a little bit afraid of her. But would you really want to be friends with her? Would you want to ask for her help? Call her in a crisis? Actually be her?
When I talk about confidence, I’m thinking about something different. Humble confidence. The confidence you have when you tie your shoelaces or make a cup of tea. You don’t need to prove you can do those things. You just know that you can. You’re certain of yourself without the need for polish or a put down. When we have access to this kind of confidence, we don’t inspire others to action because they’re afraid of us. Instead, we cultivate a sense of trust that allows others to use their talents and shine.
Confidence also means being respectful of everyone. Most of us live in a hierarchical framework. It’s very easy for us to feel superior to employees and inferior to bosses, superior to children and inferior to parents. Confidence doesn’t mean trying to scramble up the ladder a bit. To tick the boxes that enable us to feel as though we’ve “gotten in” to one of those superior groups. Confidence means showing respect to everyone, including yourself.
To do the things I’ve never dared
So how do we find this quiet confidence? The kind that keeps us grounded, and that fosters collaboration, co-creation and flow in those around us? How can we open ourselves to a softer confidence, a softer type of power?
My company has identified the five types of soft power.
Whether or not you have children, the Mother is the archetype of care and unconditional support. An important ally when it comes to confidence, the Mother not only allows you to soothe yourself but can help you put everyone around you at ease as well.
The Warrioress is active, energetic and playful. When you connect to this energy, you’re likely to roll your sleeves up and get stuck in. Often, our confidence grows when we’re actually doing things rather than worrying about them. And sometimes, taking up a physical activity — something unexpected like boxing perhaps — is a great way to find yourself again when you’ve lost your confidence.
Lover may not be the characteristic that springs to mind when you are looking to get confident at managing your team, but it is the archetype of self-care and pleasure. When you connect to the Lover, you’re able to take care of yourself so that you’re resourced to perform.
We commonly associate the Queen with confidence. If you’ve ever been told you need more gravitas, what you’re being asked to develop is your Queen energy. What might surprise you about the Queen is that, rather than using her power by herself, our archetypal Queen is open to receiving gifts. She is open to counsel. She is open to not knowing.
The Sorceress is connected to our spirituality, religion or sense of something greater than ourselves. You might call it God, Allah, Buddha, your higher self or nature. When we start leading powerfully from the Sorceress, we recognize every action we take is part of the vast, connected pattern of life. It’s a co-creation.
With each step I am more certain
To end, here are three practical steps you can take to bring more confidence into your life.
Step 1: Surround yourself with people who believe in you
When you surround yourself with people who have high expectations of what you’re capable of, you just sort of get on with doing things. If you allow yourself, you learn to live into that space that they are holding for you.
Step 2: Identify if you have the skills and knowledge you need
The next step to accessing confidence is to check to see if you actually know how to handle a situation. Ask yourself: Do I know how to do this? Do I have the skills and knowledge? Have I got what it takes? When trying to feel more confident, gaining education around what it is you’re trying to achieve can be a really great place to start.
Step 3: Choose the right individual type for the job
Once you have educated yourself on what it takes, the next step is to decide who will take on this task — which individual type do you need in order to have the biggest impact in the task.
Play some music, connect to your chosen type, and get ready to rock. You’ve got this!
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