How Strengths Fuel Your Confidence
One of the most inspiring things to know about confidence is that it’s not a personality trait, it’s a skill you build. There are so many ways you can learn to become more confident and strengthen that muscle, and many of the tools we go through in The Women Rising Program are designed to do just that. One of the strategies that many of our program participants find transformative, is to focus on your strengths.
When it comes to building confidence, Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, authors of the New York Times best selling book The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance, lay out a helpful roadmap: be more authentic, think less and take action. The first part of that roadmap is to be more authentic, which is where focusing on your strengths comes into the picture.
HOW STRENGTHS FUEL CONFIDENCE
Your strengths, when used in the right way, can supercharge your confidence and success. When you’re using your strengths, you are wired to thrive. It’s important to note here that your strengths aren’t just things you’re good at, they’re also things you enjoy doing, which take you into a flow state and leave you feeling energised. You might have particular skills that you’ve mastered, but if they aren’t very enjoyable and they don’t impact your energy in a positive way, then chances are, they’re exactly that - skills not strengths.
Your strengths represent those patterns of how you think, feel and act that make you excited, energised, and engaged in your work and life. They are also the patterns of behaviour that lead you to perform at your best, which of course fuels your confidence. And it’s not only your confidence that increases. There’s been a significant amount of research over the past 30 years that shows how your strengths help with everything from increased happiness to less stress; more meaning; a sense of more life satisfaction and higher performance; to better bottom line outcomes for our businesses.
A strengths focus works – especially when it comes to being more authentic, and building your confidence. This doesn’t mean you forever ignore your weaknesses, but it does mean that you can flip your focus from that negativity bias in your brain that’s always seeking out issues, to a strengths focus where you train yourself to look for more of what’s working, and do more of what you like doing and are good at – and feel more like yourself in the process.
DO YOU KNOW YOUR STRENGTHS?
One of the things that gets in our way is that many of us are challenged to recognise what our strengths actually are. In fact, research shows that two-thirds of people are unaware of their strengths. Not surprising when we’ve been conditioned and biologically wired to always look for our weaknesses. The good news is, there are now incredible tools that can help you identify your strengths, from many different angles.
For the past fifteen years I’ve been using the VIA Character Strengths survey in my work teaching strengths in workplaces and in my programs. You can take the free survey at viacharacter.org and once completed, it will rank your character strengths from one to twenty four.
The benefit of understanding your character strengths is that because they are values and ways of showing up, they’re not dependent on the role you’re in, so they’re applicable across all aspects of your career and life. Researchers recommend you focus on cultivating your top five strengths, often called your signature strengths, as these are the strengths that will feel most like your authentic self and are your fast track for more confidence and flourishing at work.
USING YOUR STRENGTHS
When you’ve taken the test and you know your top 5 signature strengths, the next step is to reflect on ways you can really tap into these strengths and use them every day, because that’s what will fuel your confidence. Pick one of your top five strengths and use it daily for three weeks. It can just be for five or ten minutes, but it will help you to build a strengths habit that helps you to flourish over time. If gratitude is one of your top five, spend five minutes a day thanking a friend or colleague for helping you. Send them an email, write a quick text, call them or even post on social media. Just five minutes using a strength is enough to feel more like yourself and build your confidence.
If your strengths don’t feel at all like you, don’t panic. Check in with a trusted colleague, mentor, manager or friend. Ask for their opinion on whether they see your top five strengths at play in how you show up, and if yes, examples of how and where. You may be surprised by what you learn about what others see that perhaps you don’t.
We’ll be sharing more articles and ideas for how you can build your confidence in the coming months, so stay tuned for those. And in the meantime, the next time you feel like you need a confidence boost, focus on simple ways you can use your strengths to propel you forwards.