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Build Competence ~ Increase Confidence

Updated: Jan 20, 2021

Malcolm Gladwell’s research proposes that it takes many years of concerted effort and practice to become a true expert. In fact, he estimates 10,000 hours as the amount of time needed to reach this level. The best way to get better at something is through deliberate practice, which means practicing in order to get better: doing activities recommended by experts to develop specific abilities, identifying weaknesses and working to correct them, and intentionally pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. According to research done by Anders Ericsson, “Not every type of practice leads to improved ability. You don’t get benefits from mechanical repetition, but by adjusting your execution over and over to get closer to your goal.” Deliberate practice is often guided by an expert, skilled coach, or mentor, “someone with an expert eye,” according to bestselling author Daniel Goleman. These coaches and mentors are offering feedback on specific ways to improve, and “without such feedback, you don’t get to the top ranks. The feedback matters and the concentration does, too – not just the hours.”

So, let’s assume that we don’t have 10,000 dedicated hours to attain expert level, how do we gain competence and increase our confidence? It can be a challenge when also managing the Imposter Syndrome. According to studies done at Georgia State University, 33% of high achieving adults they interviewed didn’t feel they deserved their success. And, women more than men struggle with confidence. What does it take to move forward? Self-assurance can be learned with a plan.

  1. Act: Fear can be paralyzing. Action breeds confidence and courage. “It’s easier to act your way into a new way of thinking, than think your way into a new way of acting.” – Herminia Ibarra.

  2. Focus outward: Ask questions. Engage others. Get out of your head and into real engagement.

  3. Check-out of your comfort zone: Do something new or different at least once a day. Even the smallest change in daily activity increases curiosity and increases your level of comfort with discomfort.

  4. Seek mentors/be a mentor: Advice and connections are invaluable at every level. Having objective assessments from someone you trust will be guideposts as you succeed and when you fail.

  5. Be positive: Words can hurt or help, especially as we are in learning mode. Would your self-talk be language you’d use towards a friend or colleague? Take care with them.

  6. Dump the doubters: Honest feedback and criticism help us improve. Some people may not take pleasure with your growth. Identify them and move on.

  7. Health: Pay attention to sleep, exercise and nutrition. A healthy mind/body is better able to support your goals.

  8. Body language: We communicate a great deal with our posture, smile and overall appearance. Be conscious of how you make and hold eye contact, shake hands and breath.

  9. Preparation: Know your industry, company and department thoroughly. Be up-to-date on important trends. Knowledge and preparation keep you ahead of the rest.

  10. Gratitude: Make it a daily habit to reflect on 3 things you are most thankful for. It’s restorative and starts and ends the day positively.

However comfortable you assumed you were with choice and change, it may morph into overwhelming anxiety that was never anticipated. This makes it the ideal time to engage the support of a certified coach with experience in helping professionals achieve better, faster, results. At KICKSTART Your Transition we offer a broad range of services to fit your needs.


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