How your heroes can help you conquer the world (AKA The Hillary Clinton Guide to Being Bold)

Oct 07, 2016

Carolyn McCall is the CEO of EasyJet and one of only five female CEOs in the FTSE 100. She spoke recently about the role of confidence in getting to the boardroom. Her perspective is that confidence in our ability is the key to negotiating challenges.

When Hillary Clinton won the presidential nomination she was the first woman ever to do so. Love or loathe her politics. Hillary has shown unwavering confidence in negotiating the pitfalls of the campaign path and overcoming increasingly personal attacks from Donald Trump.

Last month I shared how to create empowering beliefs to get you where you want to be. This is one foundation for being confident like Hillary and Carolyn. Another is to learn from them. Or, more appropriately, to learn from the heroes in your own life.

Confidence is a personal thing

What does it mean for you?

I’m confident when I’m true to who I am. When I’m clear about where I’m going and have a plan to get at least some of the way there. When I’m focused on learning, not on pass/fail. When I feel connected.

I become energised, I express my passion, I’m curious and excited to see what’s next. I notice people respond positively to that energy. All in all, it’s a powerful place to be.

What feelings and behaviours show up when you’re feeling at your most confident?

What impact does that have for you and the people around you?

What are your confidence demons?

Every client I have worked with has a situation, relationship or activity where they feel less confident. They don’t always label it that way. The one I hear most from all the women in my life is, ‘I feel like I’m going to be found out’.

More than one director has shared they want to display more leadership in executive meetings, but feared being judged. One client said they wanted to focus on presenting a new strategy to the board. They found their iPhone suddenly became the focus of their attention whenever they started to prepare.

Have you ever had a sense that you could be doing more, but something is holding you back? How do you think your level of confidence might be affecting your ability to fulfil your potential?

Your heroes can inspire you

I met Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, sustainability champion and a real hero of mine recently. Spending an evening at River Cottage, celebrating all he and his incredible team have achieved was a truly memorable experience. The food was pretty awesome too.

That night I felt more motivated than ever to ‘go big’ in my work to create a more sustainable world. All I wanted to do seemed possible. Then the magic moment passed. Doubts crept back in. The story I tell myself goes like this: ‘I’m not like Hugh, so I could never do what he does’. Sound familiar?

Yet one powerful way to increase your confidence is to harness the strengths of your role models. Here’s how Hugh and friends help me be more confident – and how your heroes can do the same for you.

Who do you admire?

Who do you admire? Are they at the same stage of the journey as you? Perhaps they’re in a place you’re travelling towards. Or maybe they’re your all-time hero.

I can feel as daunted as I am inspired by what Hugh has achieved. If I look through his eyes to reach beyond a challenge, the suggestions he/I come up with can be scary enough to keep me stuck.

So I work with three different role models, depending on my level of confidence around a given situation or activity, and how ‘big’ it feels to me. More on them later.

What makes them a role model for you?

Make a note of all the qualities you admire in your role models. My role models have a learning and growth mindset and contribute to their profession. They are loving, generous and open. They are successful, committed to fulfilling their purpose and to helping others to fulfil their potential.

What qualities do you share?

Put a star next to each quality you share with your hero. You will probably find you share at least one – and maybe many – qualities with your heroes. If this is the case for you, how does this new insight make you feel?

I felt uplifted and more confident by recognising that the qualities I listed above are ones that I share. I feel connected with my role models. And I dare to imagine that I could achieve my ambitions as they have theirs.

What do your heroes have that you don’t (right now)?

Review your list again. What are the attributes your role models have that you don’t feel you share?

Hugh is audacious. He sees major challenges in sustainability and believes they can be solved. He rolls his sleeves up, gets stuck in and makes change happen. My courage can desert me when I think big.

Grow your confidence

Which of your hero’s qualities, if you had it in spades, would increase your confidence the most? How would this help you in your leadership role? And what can you do to have more of that quality for yourself?

By understanding what my friend Silvia does differently to me, I’m able to change my own approach and get better results. She’s built her business from scratch and I really admire her. I don’t need to imagine what she’d do – I ask her to share the secrets of her success over dinner.

Asking ‘how can you have both?’ helps unlock a different perspective. This is my favourite question from Nikki, a successful business coach and Goodwood Revival fan. When my thinking gets black and white, I’m at risk of missing opportunities. Being more like Nikki opens things up.

Hugh has clarity of purpose and an unwavering commitment to fulfilling his vision. He failed to buy Park Farm the first time he tried. Two years later it came back on the market and the rest is River Cottage history. I met Hugh to inspire me when my confidence falters. His infectious self-belief helps me reconnect with the energy that comes from knowing my purpose.

Help someone else grow their confidence

I’ve learned to build my confidence by setting smaller goals. It might seem counter-intuitive to think small to achieve big, but it works. If your big ambition feels scary, smaller successes will build your confidence.

Help others grow in confidence by posting a comment to share your tips and experience. Is there a situation or activity that used to feel overwhelming but you now approach with confidence? What do you do to get your mojo back if your confidence is knocked?

About Clare

I founded True Leadership to help people who want to change the world. I am a professional coach with experience of helping business leaders create lasting impact in their business, community and society.

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