Mastering the Art of Resilience: Confidence

This is the 3rd post in a three-part series on Resilience. If you missed the others, read part 1: Starting at Rock Bottom and part 2: Finding Courage.

confidenceCultivate Confidence

Confidence is a funny thing. It’s a key to resilience, and it can also be elusive. Why does it seem to disappear just when we need confidence the most?

The fears I wrote about in my last post are part of the problem. Once you understand your fears and put them in perspective, it’s much easier to build the confidence you need to thrive.

In the fascinating book The Confidence Code by Claire Shipman and Katty Kay, the authors explore many aspects of confidence, and ultimately define confidence as “…the purity of action produced by a mind free of doubt.”

That’s a pretty good way to look at it, but my view is a bit different.

To me, confidence is more a state of mind than an action. It’s not what you do, but how you feel about it:

Confidence is the compelling conviction that you’re doing the right thing.

The great thing about confidence it that when you have it, you don’t mind putting yourself out there and getting a little dirty or dusty to achieve your goals. You can take a few licks because you know the effort is worth it.

Of course, there is always the risk of being blindsided by things like a tornado, an unexpected lawsuit or a key employees who quits without warning. That comes with the territory when you’re running a business.

Fear Doesn’t Stop You

The secret of resilience is not avoiding problems, but being prepared to handle what comes. Confidence assures you of that.

We all have off days, even bad years. No matter how solid your strategy, how exceptional your team, how distinctive your IP, trouble is inevitable for a growing business.

If you’re not mentally equipped to deal with these challenges, setbacks can undermine your confidence in surprising ways, making you question your objectives, your strategy and your motivation.

[Tweet “Confidence is the compelling conviction that you’re doing the right thing. – Joellyn Ferguson”]

Preparation Creates Confidence

Confidence is critical to your ability to rebound. It comes from preparation, and preparation is the best foundation for resilience.

There are two ways to prepare:

First, by understanding what obstacles you may encounter and second, by sensing trouble.

When you know what problems you’re likely to face, you can put preventative or contingent measures in place. A good insurance policy and a plant safety program as two examples. Firewalls, spam filters and seat belts are all examples of ways we anticipate trouble to prevent it or minimize its impact.

Those who bounce back most effectively not only have sound strategies for avoiding or alleviating problems, they also have an innate ability to sense trouble before it arrives.

Part of the preparation process is establishing sensors or early indicators of things like changing market conditions, a deal that is going south or a competitor who is working on a significant innovation.

Embrace Change

Enthusiastically greeting change on a regular basis buoys confidence.

When change is a rarity, it creates fear and uncertainly, squeezing confidence out of the picture. Facing change once in a blue moon means that you’re in unfamiliar territory. Instead, by making small changes on a regular basis, we grow more accustomed to change, and even learn to enjoy it.

As change becomes more routine, your perspective changes. The initial dip in productivity or the minor loss of momentum that happens while people get used to something doesn’t look so catastrophic. It’s an expected part of the process and a sign you’re making progress.

What kinds of change should your practice? Look for opportunities like these:

  • When a product line shows signs of age, determine how to reinvigorate it or make the call to put it to rest.
  • If a customer segment becomes unprofitable, seek out new markets and cultivate them before you need to rely on their revenue streams.
  • When your employee candidate pool dries up, work with local educational partners to develop new talent.

A habit of making small leaps helps change become ingrained not only in your own mindset, but in your company culture as well. That makes it easier for everyone to embrace bigger changes when necessary.

In this way, fear of the unknown becomes tempered by anticipation and excitement for the payoff. You create a culture of optimism and let confidence blossom.

Give it a Try

In this series we’ve explored how clarity, courage and confidence shape our ability to rebound in business and in life. How about putting your learning into practice?

Try this: think of one thing in your life that isn’t going according to plan. It doesn’t matter whether it’s personal or professional; it just needs to be something you’re ready to change.

One you have that problem in mind, do two things with it:

First, ask yourself how you can view that problem differently. Is it really that bad? Does it feel insurmountable because you’re allowing fear to bind you? Take some time to put the problem in perspective so you can see it for what it really is.

Second, what can you do about it? Even if you can’t fix it completely today, what one step can you take in the right direction? Maybe you need to make a decision you’ve been stalling on, or have a difficult conversation you’ve been avoiding. Do that one thing before you go to bed tonight. You’ll sleep better and feel more confident in morning.

I’m sure that one little action will boost your momentum, enabling you to keep going and achieve your goals.

Finally, remember this: You are made to be resilient. Embrace your natural ability to rebound and you will thrive no matter what challenges come your way.

Photo by Penny Matthews on

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