Firstly, may I send you the warmest of wishes for a truly wonderful and happy 2016 – for you and for all those close to and around you.  I wish you the opportunities for creativity and to birth new things that this time of the year naturally brings.  I wish for you that this year be your very best year yet in every way and on every level.  And very importantly, I wish for you a more continuous string of chances, to be a little bit kinder to yourself and to take a bit more care of your precious self.

I’m back to work just over two weeks now and it seems a pattern that I noticed last year in the lives of my clients is continuing, so I thought … what better way to start the year than to share a little about this with you, because if it’s happening for them, it’s happening for you and in truth, being human myself, this often impacts me too 🙂

Today’s post is a little longer than normal so I invite you to carve out ten minutes when you can to read it because I believe that it could help you out many times, over the year ahead … and beyond.

And for your well invested ten minutes, you will:

  1. Gain more insight on building real confidence,
  2. Learn a proven scientific technique to build confidence and personal power when you need it most, and
  3. Also get access to a four minute performance script on confidence that I personally wrote and recorded so that you can practice standing into your personal power in the moments that matter.  I hope you enjoy it.  It’s my New Year’s gift to you.

The context for “A Confident 2016”

I am always curious about and watching out for the patterns that emerge across my coaching clients, and last year, I noticed that confidence was appearing on the agenda more and more often.  Both men and women – executives, business owners, managers, full-time Mothers, working parents, returning to work parents, senior leaders and rising stars all wanting to be coached on their “lack” of confidence and how it was impacting them in terms of how they presented themselves, felt they lost out on opportunities, held back at meetings, drew back from promotions, failed to put forward their ideas, pitched for sales and business (when they “hated” sales or had just lost two or three pitches earlier that day), were afraid to apply for a job or draft their CV and so on.  Each of these people cared greatly about their work and wanted to improve things, but they often felt paralysed or stuck somehow by how they were feeling about themselves and their lack of confidence.  And in the first coaching sessions that I’ve had this year with clients, confidence has shown up again on the radar – with every single client.

And you know … when you think about the opportunity to create and live your best year yet, you can be sure that somewhere in the mix and melting pot of 365 days, there are going to be challenges, obstacles, and also opportunities.  It wouldn’t be life without them and none of us would be “normal” if we didn’t feel fearful and lack confidence at times. But, it’s what we do in those moments when we lack confidence that really count.  So whether you have a presentation coming up or there is an opportunity to talk to your manager about your performance and a salary increase, if you are meeting with the board of management, going for an interview or a promotion or trying to be heard at meetings and voice your opinion and ideas, starting a new job, or trying to launch a new initiative, this blog and recording will help you to plug more into your own personal power and activate your confidence so that it is there when you need it most – in a simple but also scientifically proven way.

The real meaning of confidence

I am a total word-nerd 🙂 and love the etymology and meaning of words so when I found out the real origin of the word confidence, it helped to shape how to work with it and build it more naturally from those roots.  Confidence comes from the Latin word Confidere, which means to “have full trust”.  In what?  Well, interestingly enough, as I explored this in practice and through my work, I realised that at its heart, the starting point of confidence means having or building “full trust” in your Self.  It only stands to reason too, if you think about it, for just a moment…because if you don’t have trust in your Self, how can you expect others to have trust in you?  And yet, we so often think that confidence is only built from the outside in – through getting compliments, praise, feedback and recognition for results.  Social Persuasion is what science calls this, where essentially it is about other people telling you that they have trust in you, that they believe in you.  And  so, our progress often depends on others and when don’t get recognition or trust from external sources, we can falter or worse still, crumple like a house of cards.  So, here is the first point to practice in terms of having full trust in your Self – turn the lens of confidence inwards and begin to consciously plug yourself in, more and more into the internal place, that builds, “full trust” in yourself.   What is it that you do well?  What do you love and know that you are good at?  What is it that you were you doing when you achieved your best results … whether that is studying or working or parenting or having fun?  The essential starting point is to tune into a sense of your Self and your power to build your confidence, from the inside-out.

Enter stage right … the scientific element of Power Posing

So, that’s the starting point – looking inward to build full trust in Self rather than depending only on the external world to believe in us, so we can take action.  However, being human, the critical question for us all is … in those moments where we lose our power or confidence, is there anything we can do,  at a practical level, to help us keep moving forward, rather than retreating or getting stuck?  Yes, there is and so enter stage right, Amy Cuddy, Harvard Business School Professor and Researcher.  (Yes, that’s her in the photo with Wonder Woman behind her).  Most of us are familiar with TED Talks, right?  Well a few years ago, I came across Amy’s TED Talk “Your body language shapes who you are”.  It is actually the second most watched TED Talk of all time.

I’ve been using her work in my own life and in my clients lives over the last number of years with great success and although this is only one technique and method that I explore with clients in confidence coaching, I thought I’d share this one because it is scientifically researched and proven to change your own physiology and body chemistry to create almost immediate results – in as little as two minutes!  And then these changes impact how you behave, go about your work and relate to other people.

Power Posing : What You Need to Know – The Practical and the Science :

Well the first thing you need to know is what a power pose is.  Look at the Wonder Woman pose in the photo with Amy Cuddy on this Blog.  Cuddy’s research indicates that there are high-power poses and low-power poses and that both influence your body’s hormones and your behaviour as a result of how you hold either posture.  High power poses are where you adopt an expansive posture, which in the research is defined as being expansive (i.e. that your body takes up a significant amount of space) and is open (where your limbs are held far away from the body).  Think of how, in the animal kingdom, an ape stands when he is being challenged or wants to show his power.  He stands up, draws himself up to full height, spreads his arms wide and expands his chest.  It’s the same for athletes who win competitions, the typical power pose here when they win, is to hold the arms up overhead, in a V shape – a victory pose. Think also of the All Blacks and their Haka, which is the embodiment of power posing.

In contrast then, the low-power poses are restricted and clenched (e.g. hunched over, arms and legs crossed, hand touching the back of the neck).  Just think about it for a moment, we do actually take up less space when we are nervous or lack confidence, i.e. hunched over, shrunk down and as we do this we unconsciously set ourselves up for powerlessness.  So, I won’t go into all the details of the tests and research experiments in this Blog as you can watch the TED Talk or read about it in Cuudy’s Book, “Presence – Bringing your BOLDEST SELF to your BIGGEST Challenges”, but the results are remarkable and really hold the key for us to practice building confidence and full trust in ourselves, when it counts most.  This is great news for us, as human beings, who experience challenges as we go about our working day and lives, because the research evidences how holding a power pose for as little as two minutes creates measurable differences in your body’s physiology, and on your levels of anxiety or confidence.

The essential “sciency” bit that you need to know is that the tests proved that holding a power pose for two minutes actually increases the levels of the hormone testosterone (known as the assertive hormone) and decreases cortisol (known as the stress hormone).  This specific hormone profile is associated with high assertiveness and low anxiety.  So the way we carry ourselves is a source of personal power and Cuddy’s findings prove that this power directs your feelings, thoughts, behaviours and body to feel confident and to be present (and even perform better) in situations ranging from routine to the most challenging.

Just Do It

So, try it.  Go on.  All you have to do is adopt one of the postures and hold it for as little as two minutes, knowing that as you are doing this, your levels of testosterone and assertiveness are increasing, naturally and that your levels of cortisol and stress are decreasing.

My personal favourite pose and by the way, my most practised, is the Super Hero pose.    Standing tall with your legs wider than hip distance apart with your hands on your hips.  I have had clients do this privately, even in a cubicle of a bathroom, before an interview, a pitch, a meeting, when facing conflict, before studying, before writing a challenging essay, before a school exam, before training or teaching, at a sporting event and even to access higher levels of creativity.  Other Power Poses include sitting down with your hands behind your head with your feet up on a desk/table, or leaning on a desk with your hands flat down on the table and your arms wide.

All you have to do is choose a power pose, step into it and hold it for as little as two minutes.  Set your alarm clock for two minutes and just do it.

How to do it – The Performance Script

Because I believe in this so much and because I often do this with clients, live in the coaching session, I have written and recorded a four minute performance script for you to listen to, to help you power pose.  Through my work across the Sports Sector, over the past five years, I have designed and recorded Performance Scripts for both individuals and teams to help them improve their mental performance and to embody success and confidence, when they most need it.  Based on this, this recording will guide you into the Super Hero Power Pose and help you embody confidence in as little as four minutes.  Try it before a meeting, a sales pitch, a tough conversation, an interview or whenever you feel you need to build more confidence from the inside out.  It will be like your four minute secret weapon to help you be more of your Self  and to be more confident in what you do.

Here’s the link to the recording.  Do let me know how you get on.  I’d love to hear your stories and how this helps you.

So enjoy and here is to a confident 2016 and beyond, where you build full trust in your Self.

Bí chomh iontach is atá ar do chumas. 

Be the Best You Can Be.

Nadine x