Self-confidence is crucial to your development in the process of becoming autonomous.
Self-confidence is your driving force, the lever that can help you surpass yourself and develop autonomy. Without it, some work tasks such as making an appointment with a prospective client, negotiating a rate, deferring production dates etc., become energy-consuming trials. It isn’t a question of shyness or introversion. It’s the idea you give yourself of your capacity to confront situations that will help or hinder you.
It’s impossible to feel sure of yourself in every situation. No one possesses the skills to cope with every situation - especially if you're working in an uncertain environment. However, the more you know your own capabilities, the more relaxed you will be in the face of professional events.
Your self-confidence and quest for knowledge will give certainty and dynamism to how you act and will encourage colleagues to act autonomously with you. Otherwise, you’ll act in a more controlling, rigid and critical way.
Develop aspects of self-confidence to work autonomously
Through having self-confidence, you’ll take risks, dare to do new things, and you’ll allow others to do likewise. Because you feel able to face situations, you feel safe. You give yourself the freedom to act and, thus, to develop your autonomy.
Lack of self-confidence creates anxiety, which can cause counter-productive behaviour because:
It reduces the quality of decision-making. Autonomy is your ability to freely choose your activities and the people you want to work with (remember: one of the levers for developing your autonomy is your ability to identify good resources). If you don’t have self-confidence, then you risk not being able to make good decisions.
In the opposite case, your self-confidence will help you to make good and challenging decisions in a context of working autonomously.
It will prevent you from hearing other people’s points of view and benefiting from them. Instead of listening to others, every remark or objection will be just another reason for you to question and doubt your choices. Instead of acting and, thus, doing and learning in the process of doing, you are questioning yourself!
In the opposite case, your self-confidence allows you to listen to others, learn from them, understand their point of view and, thus, increase your capacity for working with others and develop your skills!
It makes those around you have doubts, question your visions, proposals etc. You’ll act autonomously if they have confidence in you. So, here you see all the difficulties you’ll be faced with!
Your self-confidence will be contagious, reassure others and make them want to work with you. 😊
So, what should I do?
According to Frédéric Fanget, psychiatrist and psychotherapist, “lack of self-confidence” can come from three aspects of self-confidence: self-esteem, self-confidence (in the strict sense of the term) and self-affirmation. The following diagram can help illustrate his theory.
This base layer is the opinion you have of yourself, it’s a value judgement that you carry upon your person: “I feel worthless”, “I feel relevant”. This basis of confidence in yourself is built very early on in childhood. It is the ME.
This intermediate layer is the assessment that you make of your own personal skills: “I can cook well”, “I can’t do DIY”, “I can work with others”, etc. Self-confidence is acquired very early in childhood, especially if you have been encouraged or congratulated. It also helps if, in the event of failure, those around you helped put things in perspective without blaming you. Self-confidence is made up of your assessment of YOUR ACTIONS and of your ability to take action. To develop your autonomy, you need to develop your professional skills. Now you need to take action! Self-confidence will help.
The top level is the idea you have of your interpersonal skills. You don’t live alone in the world (that you already know). You can do your job in a completely autonomous way, whatever your status, but that doesn’t mean that you’re isolated. And that’s really a good thing, because we know from psychological research the importance of social support. You’ll like yourself better if others are benevolent towards you. So, seek to develop networks around you that can develop your self-affirmation. It may help to also side-line those relationships and influences which have a negative impact on your self-confidence.
How can I develop my self-confidence?
Take the image of a champagne pyramid shown below. The top of the pyramid is the “self-affirmation” glass. You fill the glass with the goodness that others bring to you (on condition that you go and seek that benevolence by approaching others). This point will be developed in the third part. Next is the principle of interconnected vessels.
When the glass is full, it fills the glasses it rests upon. It feeds self-confidence and you develop your skills through encouragement, daring, and growth. When the self-confidence glasses are full, they in their turn feed self-esteem. Your personal values are strengthened.
If you lack self-confidence, use the champagne pyramid. 😉
The more you develop self-affirmation, the more you develop interpersonal skills. The more your contacts with others are positive, the more you increase your self-confidence, which in turn will feed the esteem in which you hold yourself.
Activate the virtuous circle of success
Check out this cyclic process below of building your self-confidence. You can adapt it to your working life. Remember, your confidence level is not set in stone from early development. It can be positively changed and enhanced in your present situation as you evolve in your career.
Let’s take an example
Molly has just launched herself as a freelancer, offering IT services by creating business websites. It’s a skill that she developed as an employee, mainly with very small and medium-sized businesses. She knows that she has the knowledge to act with complete autonomy for the whole process of website creation, however, she hasn’t yet had the chance to carry out this work from A to Z. This is because she was part of a team where there were salespeople, project leaders, people with technical skills. To launch herself, she (sensibly) decides to set up a very small business in an area she’s competent in and she gets an assignment (she knows how to give herself achievable goals). So, she knows the risks, but she decides she can make it, because it’s within her reach. As she aims for success, she dares, gives herself the means necessary to succeed (a former colleague provides her with some technical knowledge), and she succeeds! Boosted by this feeling (she now knows that she is capable of autonomously performing her assignments), she has diversified, and now dares to contact larger businesses.
Next, consider the work of Monique Pierson in relation to self-confidence (and if you decide to be happy even at work). She says that taking risks must be calculated. By stepping out of your comfort zone, you'll progress in 3 ways:
By discovering what you’re capable of:
You'll dare to do things. It’s just the first step that’s hard and, when you get there, you’ll see that it’s not so bad after all. What’s more, practice makes perfect. For example, you want to develop your business but have never made an appointment with a client. The first phone call will probably be a bit difficult. But, with time, through persistence and effort, you might find canvassing enjoyable.
By learning to turn difficulties into opportunities to progress:
Turning eggs and flour into a cake doesn’t just require a state of mind. Overcoming difficulties requires actions, which provide opportunities to do and learn. You’ll become the one who makes things happen and says goodbye to the person that it all happens to. That’s the situation of the person who dares to make new contacts, who meets new people then finds themselves offered assignments they never previously dreamt of.
Risk the fear of risk-taking so that it doesn't become a way of being:
You'll even take pleasure in leaving your comfort zone, facing daily challenges and, through this, growing and enlarging your comfort zone.
Develop your self-confidence and you'll have the tools to act in a completely autonomous way. Others will be an important asset for you. The more you give yourself the means to act confidently, the more you’ll act in a relaxed and completely autonomous way. ☺️