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What comes first: Confidence or Success?

What comes first: Confidence or Success?

“I have much so much more confidence now that I’m successful”.

During a coaching session with a client earlier this week, whilst reviewing her recent business success, she exclaimed:  “I have much so much more confidence now that I am successful”.

Whilst it’s true that she appears to have more confidence than a year ago when her business was failing, it interested me that she considered her increased confidence to have come as a result of her achievement, as opposed to it being a contributing factor to it.

As a coach, I have observed that in addition to competence, there are two main components of self-confidence:

Self-efficacy and Self-esteem.

Self-efficacy relates to our perception of our ability to learn, to develop skills and to apply ourselves to achieve a result.  This usually leads to us accepting challenges positively, and to confidently overcoming obstacles.

Self-esteem is a general sense of having value in the world.  This often comes from an awareness of the contribution we make to the lives of those around us as well as a feeling that they approve of us.

Whilst self-confidence may come as a result of success, at least one of the above needs to be present in order for the pathway to success to even open out.

Without some perceived ability to achieve, as well as a general sense of self-worth, apparent self-confidence arguably lacks authenticity and is therefore unlikely to result in genuine success.

Of course, once we are aligned and on the path, success and self confidence can ride in tandem, providing the fuel for each others’ journey, but I fail to see how success is achieved without some level of confidence as a contributing factor.


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Let go of the outcome…

Let go of the outcome…

‘Desire without attachment to outcome’.

It sounds like a paradox doesn’t it?

I mean what is the point of wanting something if you don’t care whether or not you get it?

However, there’s a big difference between caring about an outcome and being attached to it.


How Positive Is Your Mindset?

How Positive Is Your Mindset?

If you read my blog What’s Your Vision, you’ll know that when it comes to creating success in business, I place huge importance on having a purpose and an idea of where you are going.

In addition to having a vision that motivates you to take action, you need to have a Positive Mind-set, and, I am not just talking about positive thinking.

It’s true that there is tremendous power in thinking positively.  Like attracts like and so our thoughts (and feelings) determine the reality we experience.


If our mind is occupied with negative thoughts and expectations of struggle and problems, this is how we experience life.  Conversely, if our mind is occupied with positive thoughts and expectations of success, we experience life in that way.

If our mind is occupied with negative thoughts and expectations of struggle and problems, this is how we experience life.  Conversely, if our mind is occupied with positive thoughts and expectations of success, we experience life in that way.

So, clearly the more positive our thoughts are, the better we feel, the better we relate and the more bright and promising life looks.

But a Positive Mind-set is more than ‘thinking’ positively.  A Positive Mind-set is a predominant mental attitude which occurs when your positive thinking is aligned with your vision.

Think about it.  The word ‘positive’ means to affirm or to be certain.  And Mind-set is essentially about attitude and intent.  So, to have a Positive Mind-set is to ‘affirm’ with ‘intent’.  And, your positivity has real intent when it’s aligned with your vision.

I work with lots of people in business with a vision and passion for what they do and who are aware of the power of positive thinking.  But, what I am concerned with is creating an entire mind-set where thoughts, feelings and beliefs are aligned with an intended outcome.

What happens then is that in addition to feeling good, they begin to align their activity with their vision, attract opportunities that are relevant to their goals and create the success they intended.

So, how do you create a Positive Mind-set?

First you need to choose voluntarily to apply short-term conscious effort in order to gain long-term psychological benefit.  This means in the short-term, consciously and consistently taking actions that are not usual for you but which serve to embed the new mind-set.

These are the steps I use with my clients:

Visualise your future

The power of visualisation is immense.  By creating an internal image of the outcome, you give your positive thoughts a picture to attach to.

Using your imagination, visualise the outcome:  imagine what it looks like when you are there, including people, colours, lighting and shapes.  Imagine how it feels too, both internally and to the touch.  And imagine the sounds, including what people are saying to you when it’s reality.

Re-frame your Self-Talk Language

The power of language is often underestimated.  By changing the language you use, you can make a significant difference to the quality of your thoughts.

Start by simply becoming aware of the words you use and simply ceasing to use certain negatives, like ‘don’t’ and ‘won’t’.  These words get subtracted from sentences by the mind and so, “I don’t want to fail” literally becomes “I want to fail”.  Replace “I don’t want to fail with “I want to succeed”.

Affirm your future

Remember, to have a Positive Mind-set is to affirm with intent.  Positive Affirmations are designed to do just that.  They are statements framed in positive language that describe the intended outcome.  When these statements are repeated frequently with attention and belief, they literally transform the way you think and feel.

Write or type a statement which is relevant to your vision and framed with positive language and then place it where it is constantly visible (by the kettle, in your car, on your computer screen), so that you are confronted with it daily.  And then say it to yourself and to others every day.  After a period of between one and three months of conscious effort, you will find that your new mind-set is formed.


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Disappointment versus Expectation

Disappointment versus Expectation

Have you ever felt disappointed when someone did something you didn’t approve of?!

I was talking to a client last month and he was ranting about a member of his staff who had handled a complaint from an important client “appallingly”. 

As he ranted more about how he was going to fire her, he said over and over again: “Why would she do that?!”

This is a common and understandable response when someone behaves in a way that is in conflict with our own idea of what’s appropriate and as a result (in our opinion) screws it up!

‘Disappointment’ creates feelings of anxiety, frustration, sadness and sometimes anger and our natural physiological reaction to those feelings (raised heart beat/blood pressure) often impede on our ability to respond rationally.

Whilst these sensations are a perfectly normal response to disappointment, the problem ultimately lies in our ‘expectation’ of how the other person ‘should’ have behaved, rather than their actual behaviour.  In other words, it’s our ‘expectation’ that creates the disappointment, not what they did.  Disappointment always points to an unmet expectation and unmet expectations are a common source of stress. 

Expectation itself is very healthy and useful!  It is the act or state of ‘anticipating’ and we certainly would not be successful without it.  Our expectations of other people are often a reminder of our own values and belief systems and again, that can be helpful, but often expectation in this context come’s with the assumption that the other person knows better.

I explained this to my friend and asked him what, if anything he was assuming about her?  What did he perceive her to understand that perhaps she didn’t? 

Interestingly, when he considered the question, he listed 3 or 4 things that she may not understand linked to the issue she had to deal with.  He realised in that moment that actually, she’d not handled it quite so badly.  As his expectation changed, so did the disappointment (coupled with fury!) and he left our conversation with the intention of ensuring that she had the tools she needed to enable her to be more effective next time.

I was reflecting on our conversation later that day and was reminded that we cannot control how other people behave, but, we can control our own reaction when they do not behave as we expect by asking ourselves what we are assuming they understand that perhaps they don’t.  It may be that actually there are no assumptions on our part and that our expectation was entirely appropriate.

My point is that the act of asking the question at least allows us to make that assessment before reacting from a physiological point and potentially screwing things up even further!

I called my client this week to thank him for this timely reminder.

Reach for the Stars!

Reach for the Stars!

On the day when everyone is making New Year resolutions and/or setting goals, I received this text from my mum:

“New year, new intentions: keep your sights high and your feet on the ground”.

As a teenager, I was described by one astrologist as an Idealistic Realist (My birthday falls on the cusp of Virgo and Libra:  Virgo being the Earthy Realist and Libra being the Airy Idealist).  It confused me and resonated with me at the same time!

Back then I was not dissimilar to how I am today:

Fundamentally grounded but with high aspirations. 

I lacked the maturity then to negotiate what felt like a paradox, and in my twenties I found myself achieving stuff I wasn’t passionate about.  I write about some of that stuff in other blogs on this site.

It occurred to me today that this ‘paradox’ is in fact the key to success. 

Idealists exist in the future, buck the trend and aim high whereas Realists exist in the present, follow convention and aim sensibly.  The effectiveness of these different mindsets in the pursuit of success is illustrated best when you consider what happens when you have one without the other:

Idealism without Realism:  Set’s sights high, fails to plan, ignores the human condition of ‘error’ and often meets with failure.

Realism without Idealism:  Accepts things the way they are, favours practical methods of dealing with them and limits potential by aiming for ‘average’.

Idealistic thinking is how create our Vision  

A vision is a destination to move towards and a direction to take as opposed to something to be attained or reached. A big dream is a vision.  Idealistic thinking allows us to use our full imagination to create an inspiring and motivating picture in our imagination (including images, feelings, sounds etc) that represents our vision being achieved.

Realistic thinking is how we set our goals  

A goal is a rung on the success ladder that leads to the vision.  A goal requires actual activity to achieve it.  Realistic thinking allows us to break the objective down and to create a strategy and a plan of action.

So, without an element of Realistic thinking, we remain in fantasy whilst without an element of Idealistic thinking, we remain in limitation:  Clearly, a combination of Idealistic and Realistic thinking is crucial to success!

On the day I was considering my vision and goals for this year, my mum’s text was the best advice I could have received.  It framed my Idealistic Vision as a compass point or a shining star in the sky, the brightest star in the constellation, forever in my sight, acting as a beaming navigator to guide me on my way.  And it framed my Realistic Goals as those upon which my attention and actions are focused right now, dictating my next steps along the path.

Reaching for the Stars whilst keeping my feet firmly on the ground.  Thanks mum!

Do you have Integrity?

Do you have Integrity?

This month, I was witness to someone’s integrity being questioned and it got me thinking about what integrity actually is…

I’d always thought of integrity as being about honesty and adherence to moral and ethical principles.  Actually, integrity is more than that.

Integrity is the condition of ‘wholeness’, where our thoughts, language and behaviour is consistent with the type of person we present ourselves to be.

It got me thinking.

I’ve had bosses in the past who have talked about empowering the team… and then behaved like a control-freak

I’ve known colleagues who claimed to be doing a great job… but who failed to deliver

I’ve had friends who said they were there for me… but who were absent the minute I needed their support

I’ve known people who bang on about the importance of being respectful… but who then failed to behave respectfully to others

These are essentially examples of a lack of integrity, but it may be that none of these people were intentionally dishonest.

The thing that occurred to me is this:  if there are inconsistencies between what we claim to be about and what we actually do, our honesty can be questioned.  But if the inconsistencies are never brought to our awareness, it is human nature to continue in pattern.

So, whilst being witness to this persons integrity being questioned was uncomfortable, it was actually helpful because it brought the specific inconsistency into conscious awareness and enabled them to address it.

Is your behaviour in line with what you claim to be about?