Episode 77: How to Develop your Confidence to Increase Your Performance

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What makes someone so confident that they can perform well under pressure?
How do you not get psyched out when it’s time to perform? 

You know, you are waiting to be promoted, or it’s your turn to speak. You’ve been waiting, and suddenly, you’re up. 

Are you able to perform when tapped?   In experimental psychology, there is a broad consensus that self-confidence and performance are strongly positively correlated. In this episode, I’ll discuss: 

How confidence and performance are linked

  • Why we sometimes spiral downward between low confidence and performance
  • The difference between self-confidence and confidence
  • Mindset tips for developing your confidence
  • Why focusing on the outcome may not increase your success
  • 6 strategies to help you connect your mindset to your performance

Self-confidence comes from being secure in your abilities, it’s having your own back, it’s trusting yourself. It’s knowing you can work through the emotions you feel as you are performing or, frankly, living.

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Read the Transcript
Hey friends, welcome back to this week’s podcast. 

Lately, I have been thinking about the connection between confidence and performance. 

What makes someone so confident that they can perform well under pressure? 

How do you not get psyched out when it’s time to perform?

What’s the connection between confidence and performance?

I like to dig in today. 

A few years ago I lead the strategic planning an

I mean, on one side, confidence is about mindset; it’s an internal shift.  It’s preparing for and managing the anticipation. 

The other, performance is what we all get to see – it’s the journey and the outcome. 

I’ve read a lot about athletes and how they prepare for what seems impossible. perhaps they are top-ranked, but they still have to meet a formidable competitor. 

So how do you perform when “you’re up?

Let’s look at confidence…

First, let’s ground on confidence and self-confidence

Self-confidence comes from being secure in your abilities, it’s having your own back, it’s trusting yourself. It’s knowing you can work through the emotions you feel as you are performing or, frankly, living. 

Confidence comes from evidence of previous success. 

Some people are frequently self-confident, while for others the feeling comes and goes. Most people will have varying levels of self-confidence, depending on our thoughts about their past and current circumstances.
I have seen so many articles in business journals about how to create confidence through practice. 

Mmmmm…sort of?

For me the irritating quote is that practice makes perfect. There’s usually some expert telling you to work hard, practice the thing, the ACTION, and even do it in front of a safe audience. 

And that practice will outsmart your natural talents and attitude. 

They completely omit the mindset element. 

Evidence and practice is important but you still have to BELIEVE. You have to work your mindset into BELIEF. 

I’ve also read that you should just produce work continually and eventually you’ve positive feedback from your leadership, you’ll finally see how valuable you are so you can be more self-confident. 

Nope. you can’t outsource self-confidence. 

You can’t fix your self-confidence solely through accomplishing something. 

That’s confidence; remember that self-confidence comes from being secure in your mindset and handling the negative emotions, thinking through how you may feel, and choosing again. 

Many people have a misconception that confidence is inborn or that if you don’t have it at an early age, you will never have confidence. In reality, confidence is a skill that can be learned, much like technical skills. Like with any skill, confidence is developed through focus, effort, repetition, and mindset.

One big piece of the mindset work is to ask yourself better questions. 

Ask, “how can I accomplish this task? 

How can I focus on my strengths? 

What do I need to be thinking in order to stay confident? 

When you ask a better question, you get a better answer. 

Now Let’s look at the performance side of the equation. 

You’ve practiced. You’ve studied. You want the win so bad – the promotion, the accolade, the acknowledgment that you fast forward and skip to the end result – winning and the victory. 

You become focused on winning rather than on performing your best. 

Confidence and performance are peas and carrots. 

Think back to a time when you didn’t have confidence in yourself. You may have gotten caught in a vicious cycle of low confidence and performance. 

Negative thinking led to poor performance, which led to more negative thinking and even poorer performance until your confidence was so low that you didn’t even want to compete.

This downward spiral usually starts with a period of poor performance. You’ve jumped to the outcome and didn’t manage your mind for the journey. 

I’m not saying that you will always be successful, but the mindset journey requires that you practice your skill and your thoughts, and then practice the thinking that win or lose I gave it my all. You go into the performance staying present. 

Let me tell you a story. 

Usually, I’d be a decent public speaker. 

But there was a time in my career where I was in a really intense, toxic and unsupportive environment. Sharp elbows everywhere. 

My boss often said she loved to see us compete against each other. 

My orientation was I compete against myself, and my last performance – not against other people. Well, that didn’t fly in this department. 

I remember having to give a presentation at a large company meeting. 

She wanted me perfectly scripted – without a teleprompter. Ok., I can do that…however…Up to minutes before the speech, she was still saying oh, saying this – or make sure to add this in – how can I be perfectly scripted when you’re still adding content? 

Her last words as I was going on stage were “you’d better nail this”.

There she was in the front row of the auditorium – mouthing words, waving her hands, commenting. The result was – meh, definitely not my best. 

Then I had to take the presentation on the road and I started to become my own worst  enemy. Each time she said “you’d better do better than last time” 

My mindset wasn’t primed for the journey. I was focusing on my disdain for her, and for the experience to be OVER versus practicing and hitting the points along the way. 

When your mindset isn’t primed for the journey, the bully, the bumps, the pivots, you don’t have a chance of performing your best and finding success. 

So what do you do? Here’s how I like to think about confidence and performance:

1) The first step is reminding yourself that self-confidence is not about your achievements but confidence is. Here’s where it gets tricky, looking back is only about providing you with evidence. This past evidence can help you rewire your brain. Looking at past experiences and successes for proof that you’ve done something new before, and maybe, just maybe, it’s possible that you can do it again. Review your past victories and remember that you have accomplished things in your life. 

Just a bit of a boost can move you leaps and bounds when you’re learning how to gain confidence. It allows your mind to think positively. 

If you gave an impactful presentation to your company last year, why wouldn’t you be able to complete your next project by the allotted deadline? Relishing in moments of pride can help you to see that you can do it again. 

The more you do this the faster and easier it is to get there. 

2) If you don’t have any achievements yet, then building self-confidence is about building the belief that you already have what you need and you get through the challenges. You may not have skills, knowledge or experience but you believe you can get there. This has to come from your thoughts. Not from external achievements. 

3) When thinking about your performance, it’s about the team, not the individual. Are you all going to pitch that business? Are you working towards a q3 launch? Do you have a mentor, coach, and peer group to help you get there? Teams build great things. Who’s on yours?

4) It’s about now, not the outcome. Yes, I know you want to win, but in the moment, it’s about doing the thing, and not fast-forwarding to the outcome when you’re up – may knock you off course. We get better when we look at the moments along the way. 

5) Preparation matters more than the go-time or competition. Preparation is the work you did to get there. It’s not about the 20 min interview or the 60 min presentation. That’s go-time. Preparation It is about doing the work and then setting your mindset to think “I’ve done everything I can. win or lose I can live with the results. This is so important and no it’s not defeatist. It’s knowing that your training will. 
6) You get ready by tapping mindset. Go to a quiet place. Envision the run of the show or the interview. See the stage. See the opportunity. See yourself “passing the question” to a colleague to answer. Imagine yourself connecting with the interviewer or the client, connect with the qualities you want to bring to the experience – clarity, confidence, appreciation, focus, determination…we all have to be ready for something. Give it your all and then release the outcome so you can stay present. Be in your excellence, and in your craft. 

How are you preparing for your performance? 

If you are looking for support I would love to help you. I’ll put my details in the show notes. 

Ok friends. I appreciate you. See you next time.