Low confidence is something that affects us all. Something that makes us human.
The thing is, as a sex, women are more prone to struggle with it *especially* when it comes to work/life balance and shutting out what’s called “imposter syndrome”. And then there’s guilt, another female trait, to factor into the mix.
The Step Up Club, founded by Career Coach Phanella Mayell Fair and Fashion Journalist Alice Olins, focuses on switching up the way we look at our careers. Our confidence.
It’s about psyching ourselves up to believe in the risks we take and the successes that come as a result.
Here’s what she had to say on the c-word from a personal and professional point of view…
Where do you stand on the confidence spectrum?
I think the perception of confidence is a little bit like an amazing sex life; it’s easy to think everyone else has it but the reality is they may well not.
I would say that I’m confident, but not supremely so. I do, however, feel confident talking about this subject as it’s something I’m truly passionate about. I believe we need to feel comfortable, empowered and encouraged to say that we are confident.
Do you ever suffer with low confidence?
Of course. In my mind confidence is linked to familiarity, control and feeling comfortable. The more comfortable one feels the more confident we are. A dip is triggered when I feel out of control and rushed. A high is when I feel informed and prepared for a situation I am in and dealing with.
Did you feel confident about launching Push PR?
If I’m totally honest I didn’t think about it. I was 24 and didn’t plan or even intend to have my own company.
It’s much tougher now as I have a large team, many clients who invest and trust in me, and I work with my husband so we have all our eggs in one basket. There’s a lot to lose.
Strategy, planning and constant evaluation helps me to feel confident in business. I invest in taking time to praise the successes and harness them. Then when things don’t go according to plan I ensure that we really evaluate, identify key learnings and move on. Moving on is key. An internal voice highlighting failure is the main culprit for low confidence.
The ability to take on risk is not a natural female quality and many believe this is in part due to our struggles with confidence and failure. How do you turn your thoughts into action?
I think it’s about continuously asking: what is failure? What does failure look like? What is the worst that can happen?
I truly believe a large part of confidence coaching should be about encouraging women to take more risks.
How do we stay true to ourselves as confident women?
By empowering each other, spending more time together, being a network. Talking, sharing and supporting is so important.
What is your level of confidence now compared to when you started out? How have things changed?
Confidence has enabled me to meet like-minded people, make amazing friendships, overcome fears, travel, grow personally and professionally, build a great team and most importantly be open and honest with myself and those around me.
When you lack confidence it can be very hard to be open and honest with people, even your friends and family and those closest to you. This can feel stifling and suffocating. As soon as you have the confidence to turn that around and be completely real I believe it unlocks opportunity.
I also think we should never underestimate the power of praise. Learn to take the praise, absorb it, listen to it and repeat it back to yourself. I also feel strongly about praising yourself over what could be seen as the simplest of achievements. Sometimes we need to stop giving ourselves a hard time and celebrate the fact that we made it through another day!
I am definitely more confident now, I’ve learnt to stop giving myself such a hard time and be my own friend. My inner voice is far more Mr Motivator these days rather than Sargent Major.
How have parents, mentors and peers influenced your confidence?
All give me confidence in different ways. There are many different types of confidence for the roles you assume; emotional for family and friends and professional confidence for work. I have also been surprised at how much confidence my children have and do give me. When they praise me and tell me they are proud of me and say thank you that gives me huge confidence.
Confidence: can you fake it to make it?
No. Ultimately, if you want to be happy you have to be true to yourself and others. Faking anything becomes too exhausting to sustain and the cracks will start to show sooner or later.
When we lack confidence we hold back and don’t take risks. Can risk actually make you more confident?
Absolutely. If you don’t take risks I think you limit your growth and opportunity to learn. If you don’t learn and grow then you cannot gather experiences to make you more confident.
Imposter syndrome is a subset of low confidence. How do you win your own mind over and quieten that negative voice?
I think we all have moments of this if we are really honest with ourselves and this goes back to risk.
We’ve all found ourselves feeling out of our depth (I probably feel this way at least once a day) and it’s absolutely ok to wing it. The reward of taking a risk and it going right definitely outweighs the fear of failure.
Being out of your depth and then suddenly finding your way back to the surface, whether it be by accident or design, is just the best feeling. If you don’t ever put yourself in that situation, you’ll never learn to swim. I think we need to confront that inner voice in order to come back bigger and bolder with a confidence mantra that will override it.
We need to be developing a confidence culture that starts from the beginning. Just like obesity, mental health and so on – confidence is a serious issue for some and can gave a dramatic impact on quality of life. Fundamentally confidence is mental and emotional wellbeing that must be taken seriously.
Want in on all the latest from the Step Up Club? Sign up here.