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Saying “No” to unwanted sex from teachers and peers at school. Telling your parents that you don’t want to marry a man three times your age.

This is what self confidence is giving young teenage girls in Malawi – the sort of difference Theatre for a Change works to deliver. I coach an Education Programme Manager there.

Are you shocked? I was.

Theatre for a Change - programmes in Malawi

Theatre for a Change – programmes in Malawi

Until this point I think for me self confidence had been some sort of unclearly defined, nice to have, additional extra, possibly a slightly namby pamby thing that gave us the better things in life. Nothing as basic, as fundamental, as core, as this.

This got me thinking about my own experience. Does self confidence vary with who you are, where you come from, and what your starting point is?

Some examples from my own world came to mind:

  1. I worked as a volunteer with young teenagers at the Kings Arms, in my home town of Petersfield, Hampshire (UK), helping them with their self esteem. In my perception the most common aspiration was to be accepted as themselves and to have trustworthy friendships. Self confidence helped them be who they were at school, and to draw friendships to them, rather than run after them, putting people off on the way.
  1. A client organisation – a University – is implementing a Professional Support Staff Mentoring Scheme for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic staff. The outcomes they want? For their staff to reach higher with the career aspirations, and apply for more senior roles. They have a belief that mentoring will help with the self confidence to do this.
  1. A director I am coaching has found his voice upwards – managing his boss and other senior stakeholders, calling much more on his own authority and presence. His self confidence is allowing him to be far more influential, gaining the outcomes he needs for his team to succeed. His fear of being sacked was wrong, he was recently promoted.

So it seems there is a huge range of outcomes needed, wanted and possible from self confidence.

Turning this round, I’m curious – what does your current level of self confidence give you?

I’m noticing self confidence also seems to give people the ability to work outside accepted norms, standards or boundaries, and to challenge the status quo, the current systems, processes, and accepted way of doing things. It makes a difference in organisations too.

Self confidence can help leaders in organisations to give things a try from a new perspective. Airbnb and Uber seem modern examples of organisations which offer services outside of the conventional way of doing things.

So it seems that self confidence can help you let go of the old ways of seeing things and enable you to take a fresh look. It can allow you to have the courage to aim higher and ask for the things you would really love to do.

Let’s consider self confidence again.

  • Do I think the path is easy? No I don’t.
  • Does it have rewards? Clearly. Life changing rewards.
  • Does it feel risky and uncertain? Definitely.
  • Is the cost high? Yes. I believe in two ways. If you deny your self confidence, you snuff out your ambition, aspiration and dreams. On the other hand, if you go for it, it’s an uncertain, uncomfortable, although rewarding path, which in my experience, you can only create one step at a time, working it out as you go.

Perhaps you are wondering, where am I at with my own self confidence?

It’s been quite a journey, now delivering some results I have really wanted for some time.

I can now tell you that I would love my professional life from here on in to be a series of exciting projects, working with teams to help them achieve outstanding results in specified timescales. My recent work with a team to submit a winning bid after previous disappointments is a good example of this.

I can see that my own self confidence now gives me the courage to ask for what I want, helping me put to one side the fear of scarcity of work. Self confidence is allowing me to create a new website which will focus on attracting the projects I want and love. Self confidence enables me to cease being a good girl, or sensible, trying to appeal to all people for all things. Self confidence allows me to believe there are enough projects out there, which fit my hand like a glove, even if I do not know what they are called, where they are and how I will connect with them (I’m hoping you can help with that!)

And do I have the occasional wobble? Of course!

Back to you. What could more self confidence give you?

If you didn’t have to think of the “how”, the steps, the achievability right now, what would more self confidence give you?

Is it an outcome you yearn for?

Is the outcome attractive enough to want to explore more about how more self confidence can help you or your team? If YES, contact me or give me a call. I’d love to help you get more precise and on your way.

If my blog has prompted thoughts you would like to share on how self confidence can help, include them below. Theatre for a Change clearly believe self confidence is teachable and learnable – perhaps we should too.

And if you’d like a reminder of how self confidence can be as basic and essential as the air we breathe and water we drink, take a look at this.

Can you or your team afford to spend any more of your life without enough of it?

Photo credits: Thank you to Theatre for a Change for pictures from their website.

Gill How

Helping leaders grow, step up and deliver outstanding results

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