5 CEO Confidence Hacks to Unleash Your Inner Badass
If you struggle to take action or are otherwise hesitating to move things forward, try these leadership tips to jump-start success.
Nobody likes to admit that they struggle with a lack of confidence. I know too well how it feels to present to the world a certain image, yet behind the scenes be secretly worried about what others think, then hesitate and fail to take action. For a time, anything that was slightly out of my comfort zone simply felt too much for me to handle emotionally, and so my self-sabotage would spiral out of control.
CEOs inhabit a world that presents a lot of added pressure, part of which is contending with the emotions of team members, clients, etc. Due to a lack of emotional control, there was a time when I would avoid conflict and fail to maintain boundaries with clients, and this weakness only contributed to further negative internal dialogues.
What I learned over time was that this lack of confidence was due to multiple factors, and that my childhood played a huge role. Being bullied and not standing up for myself had effects well into adulthood, and both addressing that and healing from it played a massive role in generating the confidence needed to build a successful company.
Here are some tools and exercises I discovered in that process, and which could be of help to those with a desire to create a bigger impact— to do great things in the world:
1. Confident memory moments
Memory plays an enormous role in confidence. We are either pulling thoughts from the past that support us or others that disable us and stop us from taking the action we know will help ourselves and our businesses.
Try this exercise: Close your eyes and remember a time when you felt most confident. This can be any moment in the past, just pick one that truly made an impact (perhaps an athletic competition). Close your eyes and see again what you witnessed during that moment, hear what you heard and most importantly, feel what you felt. Embracing that represents an important shift because it also conveys an understanding that you are actually in control of your emotional state at any time.
2. The follow-through rewiring exercise
Taking action builds confidence, but often we don't take action because we think that the outcome will be negative. If we do this enough, we end up conditioning ourselves to be procrastinators, and that only drops confidence additionally.
Grab a piece of paper and create three columns on it. On the left, put down the action you are committed to following through with. In the middle column detail how you will feel once you have completed the action. In the third, describe why it's important to follow through. When we create a typical to-do list, unfortunately, it doesn't take into account the fact that emotions can self-sabotage us. Encouraging yourself to think and feel into a positive outcome will help considerably.
3. Confidence stacking
It's easy to get overwhelmed by big leaps of courage, as they inevitably involve greater degrees of accountability. However, something you can easily do is engage in smaller actions that build and support you in the role as a CEO. For example, if at the moment you don't talk to strangers when having coffee, start by simply saying hello. Then move on to a compliment. The positive mental reward you get from micro-actions like these actually goes a long way towards broader confidence. When we're lacking in that quality, it's often because we're stuck in a mental loop — doing the same thing day in and day out. When you start to break that cycle, you'll notice that you feel happier and lighter and are getting things done.
4. The physical factor
Body image plays an oversized role in confidence. The more we let health and fitness slip, the more self-assurance spirals. "Not having enough time" is a reliable excuse, but it's one that can become the biggest self-sabotage statement for many CEOs. Workouts and a healthy diet should become part of a lifestyle because they fuel both vigor and confidence. If you struggle with working out, ask this question every day: "Is there any real excuse why I can't exercise today?" In addition, make sure that time devoted to it is marked on your calendar, and focus on how you will feel after it, not the process of doing it — know that every workout and healthy meal is adding to both present and future success.
5. Confidence consequence
Among the reasons we stay stuck in low confidence and avoid courage is that we aren't held to do the things we need to do. A large part of personal development is being conscious of when we need to embrace accountability, and when we do not. Think about the things, right now, that you find easy to take action on and which you are confident in. Other people might need to apply greater amounts of accountability to fuel such actions, but you don't because they're easy for you. Accountability consequences create leverage: Good accountability creates consequences for not taking action, which then forces you to do what's uncomfortable — and you'll wind up being thankful for that nudge to do something you've been putting off.
Building up true confidence doesn't have to take a long time. The right combination of actions can go a long way to creating a momentum that won't just impact you personally, but will spill over into work, at which you'll gain more respect and get more results.
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