An Excerpt from The Full Spirit Workout by Kate Eckman
While completing my advanced certification in executive and organizational coaching from Columbia University, I conducted extensive research on how to leverage confidence to accelerate leadership development.
I interviewed dozens of leaders in business and sports, while reviewing numerous articles and research studies on the topic. Several major themes emerged, which allowed me to identify some key building blocks of confidence.
These key confidence building blocks consist of trust, along with what I call the five Ps: presence, patience, purpose, preparation, and practice.
Whether you’re a college student, professional athlete, entrepreneur, secretary, stay-at-home mom leading your household day in and day out, or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, these building blocks can boost your confidence both personally and professionally.
Based on its Latin root, confidence means “to trust,” “to do something with trust,” or “to have full trust or reliance”. Trust emerged throughout my research as a major key to building confidence.
The way I see it, trusting in the context of confidence is a spiritual practice with three key components: surrender, willingness to show up fully on a consistent basis and do the work, and accepting the invitation to not be great…yet!
Through all three components, we’re trusting in the process and in ourselves. This is all about strengthening your core beliefs in the name of growth, wisdom, and learning.
In a world of overstimulation and countless distractions, the art of being present has become a valuable skill in itself. This means bringing your whole self to the present moment and truly being there, rather than being stuck in the past or future, to embrace exactly where you are.
hen you are present, you can have patience and truly know (not just intellectually, but in your body, in your bones) that what’s best for you is either already here or on its way.
Create a new mantra or story for yourself. Mine is: “Everything that could possibly contribute to my happiness is either already here or on its way”.
There is a spiritual principle that says, “Infinite patience produces immediate results”. As I like to say, “Achieving a goal is like being pregnant: you can’t rush it”. Or as the 38 Special song says, “Hold on loosely”.
Having a purpose greater than ourselves came up as a confidence booster again and again in my research. On days that we may lack inspiration or motivation and not be fully invested in showing up for ourselves in a meaningful way, we can choose to show up for our families, friends, colleagues, teams, organizations, or society. This lets us set a good example as a friend, colleague, and leader.
Being prepared breeds confidence directly and also leads to improved outcomes, which can also boost confidence.
Consistent behavior builds new habits, which create new results, which again boost confidence. Simply, repetition builds confidence.
My friend Heather won three Olympic gold medals in soccer as a member of the United States women’s national soccer team (USWNT).
I went to many of her games over the years, and what inspired me the most was the fight in her. Heather admitted to me that she really had no business making the 2012 Olympic roster. She was plagued by injuries and considered an “older” player on the team at the ripe old age of thirty-four. A slew of fit, spunky twentysomethings were gunning for her spot on the team. They were faster, more skilled. But what these players didn’t have was Heather’s sheer determination and willingness to practice when no one else was practicing. They didn’t have her mental toughness. They weren’t willing to put in extra reps with an outside coach on their days off to build fitness. Heather’s coach and Heather herself will tell you that she wasn’t the most talented player in her position. But she was the most relentless, and her consistency of behavior ultimately earned her a spot on the team.
Tighten Your Spiritual Flab
A major obstacle that’s been shown to keep us stuck in limiting beliefs and a lack of confidence is the trap of comparison. I don’t know about you, but when I compare myself to others, I always feel drained, insecure, and unhappy. I find myself creating stories about how I’m not good enough.
These feelings build stress in my body and leave me unable to operate from a creative, empowered place. When you’re comparing yourself to someone else, you aren’t focusing on yourself and everything you have to offer the world in your own unique way.
So it’s time to make the sometimes difficult but necessary commitment to stop comparing yourself to others. The world needs your special gifts. Here are five steps to get you started:
1. Recognize that you’re comparing yourself to others.
The first step in letting go of comparison is to acknowledge you’re doing it. It won’t feel natural to focus only on yourself at first, as we’re conditioned to compare ourselves and have others compare us to one another. But by being aware of what you’re doing, you can quickly dissolve any negative thoughts or feelings that may arise. Nip them in the bud and go back to embracing all you can offer the world instead.
2. Focus on all that you are rather than what you think you’re lacking.
Focus on how you can serve yourself, others, and the world. Celebrate others rather than feeling jealous and attacking them (even if it’s just in your own thoughts). We’re each great in our own unique way. Celebrate the greatness in others and yourself.
When I catch myself comparing, I quickly say to myself, Comparison is the thief of joy. I never want to feel joyless, so I immediately shift my thoughts and behavior. Try it!
3. Keep everything in perspective.
Some may envy that I live in New York and used to work full-time as a model. But I bet they don’t envy all the rejection I regularly endured. I could envy friends and relatives for having wonderful spouses and adorable children. But I don’t envy the lack of sleep or immense sacrifices all parents must make.
We each have our own path, journey, unique personalities, and gifts to share with the world. If you’re busy comparing yourself to other people, you might miss all the blessings put before you on your path.
4. Limit your time on social media.
Have you ever been having a perfectly great day, only to scroll through your social media feeds and almost instantly feel horrible about yourself ? I know I have, on numerous occasions. I remember sitting at the hair salon feeling relaxed and pampered, casually browsing my Instagram feed. Within seconds, I felt my energy plummet — I was comparing myself to other women who seemed to have it all (fancy careers, outfits, vacations).
These thoughts give rise to feelings that bring us down! We feel as though we can never measure up as people, parents, daughters or sons, friends, employees, and so on. The message you’re sending yourself is I am not enough. I need to have more and be more to compete with my social media feed. But you know what? That’s a bunch of crap.
5. Forgive yourself.
It’s human nature to compare ourselves to other people. Forgive yourself for this nasty habit we’ve all succumbed to, but stay committed to the intention that you’ll no longer do it.
The bottom line: someone is always going to be more physically attractive, smarter, wealthier, funnier — or seem that way in the fantasy worlds that are social media, Hollywood, magazine covers, and our own imaginations. It doesn’t matter.
Even the people you deem the most successful — with enviable careers, relationships, wardrobes, and homes — have bad days, trauma, and sadness in their lives. What’s important are the unique gifts you and only you can bring to the table, and your special connections to others.