THE BLOG
05/20/2014 03:05 pm ET Updated Jul 20, 2014

Not Confident Enough? Reprogram Your Confidence Level

If you feel that you could be more confident, there's good news: you can make a choice to boost your level of confidence. In my last post, we discussed that having a certain degree of confidence can be one of several important factors in women's success.

Studies have shown a link between genetics (the "confidence gene") and an individual's level of confidence. Since research has also shown that men are generally more confident than women, this can lead to self-limiting behaviors on the part of women, who may believe they are stuck at a "set point" of confidence.

However, SHAMBAUGH and other research indicate that genetics are not the only factor that determines your confidence level. SHAMBAUGH has found that confidence is actually based on 3 key pillars: brain science, your own belief systems, and targeted development.

When coaching women on confidence, I ask them to think of beliefs and confidence this way: You are given a set of software that represents your genes. However, you can "reprogram" that software any way you want, reframing your beliefs and making adaptations along the way. If you feel that you lack confidence, I invite you to look within and ask yourself these questions:

  • How do my beliefs about my level of confidence impact me today?
  • How do these beliefs translate into behaviors that make me feel less confident?
  • How can I reframe my beliefs and shift my internal narrative so it starts to work for me, rather than against me, in the area of confidence?

If you want to increase your confidence factor, consider these strategies to begin to shine the light on your available confidence and the greatness you bring to the table:

Tap a strong support system. When considering a new opportunity or action outside of your comfort zone that requires an extra dose of confidence, be sure that you have a strong and supportive personal Board of Directors--people who see your best qualities and can serve as mentors, coaches, and sponsors along the way.

Seek feedback. An essential step for testing and reframing your beliefs when building confidence is requesting feedback. Seek feedback from those who will be candid. Ask them to share their perspective regarding your value/brand proposition, strengths, and areas for growth and development. Women have a tendency to be their own worst critics, focusing more on their weaknesses rather than their strengths, which I call "positive blind spots." When considering a promotion or new role outside of your comfort zone, lead with a core strength that will give you the confidence to lean in.

Be willing to take on new opportunities. Take on cross-assignments that provide you with greater exposure and broaden your perspective--even if they're lateral or stretch roles. Having different experiences reveals new strengths and allows people to see you in action. The greater the challenge, the more you'll grow and build your confidence and competence, which can open up new doors and opportunities.

Show up and speak up. Build your confidence and competence by showing up and speaking up in important meetings and conversations. Remember, preparation is everything and the more you know your audience and effectively organize your thoughts and contributions, the more confident you'll feel and the more likely you'll speak up and be heard.

Take one small step at a time. When you feel overwhelmed by a new opportunity that seems daunting, break the problem or opportunity into small parts and take one step at a time. Breaking a challenge down into smaller pieces and taking micro-steps can be a confidence booster, and can help you take something on you may otherwise have shied away from trying.

Stop thinking and just act! Be aware of your internal narrative and get control of self-limiting beliefs that disempower you. As Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, said: "I don't really think about walking into a room where I am the female and the minority. I just think about what needs to be done!"

Believe so you can see. If you want to be an executive or a speaker or whatever your dream job is, picture yourself in that role actually doing it. Hold that vision for yourself, and believe in your mind and heart that all is possible.

You can develop confidence by embracing the gifts you have and empowering yourself to shine the light on those talents and unique attributes. It all starts with making the choice. Don't underestimate the power of believing, as that will become your reality through your words and actions.

Learn more about SHAMBAUGH's Executive Coaching, Leadership Programs, Keynote Offerings, Sponsorship Consulting and our signature Women In Leadership and Learning Program (WILL) by visiting www.shambaughleadership.com

Author, best selling books: "It's Not a Glass Ceiling, It's a Sticky Floor," "Leadership Secrets of Hillary Clinton," and "Make Room for Her: Why Companies Need an Integrated Leadership Model to Achieve Extraordinary Results"