We human beings are wonderfully complex. We respond instinctively to every challenge. But how we respond is influenced by many factors – the mood we are in at the time, whether we associate the situation with pleasure or unpleasantness, and how confident or nervous we feel.
So how we respond to challenge can be significantly influenced by our mindset. Think of any great sports personality. Technical ability is only half the story. The other half is their mental strength – the desire to win, the determination to succeed and the ability to see themselves winning.
It’s not only sportsmen and women who can benefit from this technique. In the working world (and indeed in our lives outside work) it is just as powerful to have a clear picture of the person we want to be in any challenging situation.
Recently I was coaching a client who had just been appointed to a new role, and he said:
Despite a thorough selection process, my client felt that somehow he had won the role by default, and that he didn’t have the skills and capability to do the role. Consequently he started to talk about how he would have to put on an act to make people believe he had skills that didn’t exist.
Together we looked back to a time at work when he had tackled a big challenge successfully, when he had really felt confident and that he was performing well. As he talked to me about it, and described what he had done and how he had felt, I noticed two things:
- His voice gained in confidence and assurance. He really sounded like the powerful man he was describing
- He demonstrated exactly the strengths and attributes that he would need for his new role – strategic perspective, communication skills, ability to interact with people from a wide range of backgrounds, flexibility to take on board their input, strength to drive through unpopular decisions and charisma to take others with him.
I asked him how he would apply those skills in the new situation, and he immediately produced a string of examples. I could still hear the confidence in his voice, and knew that he had made the connection between the person he already was, and the person he needed to be to make a successful start on his new role.
I reflected these observations back to him, and reminded him that rather than put on an act in his new role, he could “dial up” this side of his personality. In effect he would be the person he had been when tackling the challenge in his previous job.
Next time you are facing a challenging situation, why not try this yourself? Think back to a time when you have dealt with a difficult situation successfully. It could be a situation at work, but doesn’t have to be. Maybe you have great parenting skills, or are great at coaching a junior sports team. Or it could be longer ago, perhaps when you performed in a school concert, or won a race or competition. Or maybe you handled an emotional situation with compassion and love, and made the other person feel cared for.
How did you feel in the moment that you were successful? Really imagine yourself back in that moment; hear the sounds around you, see the sights, soak up any sound or smell. How do others respond to you? Notice how it makes you feel. How does the confidence that you gained by succeeding show itself? Are you calm or exhilarated? How are you standing (or sitting)?
Then imagine yourself having that same confidence and stance as you tackle the challenging situation that you are facing now. Dial up the strength you need to bring your best self into the situation.
If you have a story to tell of how you did this, do share it with us below. If you’d like some help to access your most confident self, then get in touch for an informal discussion about how I can help you.