I listened to a professional basketball player in an interview recently. After the game, he was asked this question: how do you keep your ‘swag’ in the game? The answer, “swag is an attitude, whether you hit the net or miss, you walk away with a smile”. Swag brings energy and energy exudes confidence, trust, and positivity. You must bring confidence to the game regardless of the outcome!
This idea is so difficult in an outcome driven world. We are almost obsessed with results and productivity. A common notion in the world of work, is that if something is not working, we cut the idea and look for more ‘productive’ ways. What a terrible idea if we applied that to the invention of the light bulb. There are ideas worth cutting; however, I am challenging the idea that we must always ‘make the basket’ in order to feel valuable and productive.
Whether you actually make the shot or not, you must bring the swag. So, how can you boost your career confidence at work without tying it to successful outcomes? Here are the top three game changers when it comes to really showing up to work with confidence.
Change your body language
87% of language is nonverbal. Individual judgements happen in a split second when a person walks into the room. Usually without a thought or detailed review, we tend to spot a confident person by the way they enter a room or walk down the hall. It’s by the way they hold themselves. Regardless of the actual words confident people say, more than half the time, it’s the ‘way’ they say something that captures our allegiance more than anything else. How scary, if for the wrong cause! When you are pitching an idea to your team or you are giving bad news to a client or you are teaching a class of 2nd graders (which is probably the hardest of those examples), how you say what you say matters most.
Do you believe yourself? If you do not, your body language will let your audience know. There’s no fooling anyone here. Sure, some can be actors but for the large majority, when we don’t bring the swag or the energy, we have already lost half the battle even with a brilliant idea. Posturing has actually been proven to help with this. I have clients stand in front of a mirror before an interview and practice taking up physical space. This exudes confidence. Never underestimate a smile as well. Have your intentions set on success. So, regardless of whether its a slam dunk or not, you’ll have brought the right energy.
This is a must in the working world these days. You can’t get away with not knowing your strengths and weaknesses anymore. Successful people have spent time objectively and honestly looking at places of improvement as well as understanding their assets. If you know where your own blind spots are, you’ll not be thrown off when someone tries to shut down your ideas by throwing a ball there.
Acknowledging faults adds MORE trust. People can then be more honest and open without fear, and produce even better results. Plus it builds your confidence in that nothing comes to you as a surprise. Equally important is knowing where you thrive. These are usually places where you have a lot of fun too. When do you have the most fun at work? The answers will probably reveal areas of strength. Everyone has them. Everyone. Don’t be shy with the things you do well. Doing things well and being acknowledged will build your confidence.
Ax the self consciousness
Don’t think about it too much! The worst confidence-killer is thinking too much. How can you be your best self if you’re so self-critical? I take lessons from little kids here. Do you know the confidence of a four-year old? They will say and behave so boldly and be absolutely wrong. But their conviction and lack of self consciousness can be so convincing that even I have argued with them. I have the upper hand and I still find myself engaging in the debate. Why? Because they bring their swag. Their energy and lack of self worry. They aren’t worried about how they will ‘look’ if they are wrong. It almost seems as though it doesn’t matter. They seem to be confident in the value they hold in just being four. I love it! What a great lesson we can all learn from when it comes to ignoring how we appear. That takes too much energy and at the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter!
So remember, missing a basket doesn’t mean you’re a terrible basketball player. Bring your swag. Know yourself, check your body language and lose the self consciousness. Go boldly, my friend.