Restoring shattered confidence


We have probably all been there. We have just taken a new job or new role thinking pretty highly of our abilities and skills. But soon, we start wondering if you really are capable. Your confidence begins slipping. Pretty soon, you start wondering if you are even the right person at all to do this job. Shattered confidence can be disastrous unless we stop it from overtaking us. If we let the confidence spiral take us all the way down, it may be impossible to even recover.

The process for shattered confidence follows these five stages:

  1. Stage 1 – Top of the world! – I must be pretty good. After all, I was selected to do this job over everyone else in the world. My superior background, experience, and charming personality won the day. There is no doubt I have a great future in this job and with this company. I’ll probably be promoted (again) in a few months or couple years at the most. In a way, these guys are lucky to have me. OK, now I need to go make a positive difference with this responsibility.
  2. Stage 2 – Doubts creep in – Yes, I probably could have done a better job with that project. I deserved the criticism I received. I wondered why my boss has seemed to avoid me lately. Oh, well, I can still get the job done… I think. I just need to pick myself up and get going. I think I’ll get started after lunch. No big rush. I’m OK… I’ll just keep saying that until I believe it.
  3. Stage 3 – I’m not really that good – Well, I’ve done it again… I messed up. I think my boss is right, I’m not that good at this job. In fact, I’m probably over my head. I wonder why they even selected me. I’ll try to make the best of this situation, but I need to just keep my head down and try to not cause any more damage. I’m not sure I can even salvage this situation, so I’ll try to just stay out of the way.
  4. Stage 4 – Actually, I’m pretty pitiful – I just need to realize and admit that I am terrible at this job! I am probably causing more harm than good at this point. I can’t seem to do anything right. No one trusts me, including myself. Why did I ever think I could do a job like this. I probably just need to step back and get a role that doesn’t require any special skills or abilities. Bottom line… I’m pitiful!
  5. Stage 5 – Why do they even keep me? – I just might be the worst person in history that has ever tried to do this job! There is no way I should have any important responsibilities in this job or, frankly, in any other job. I am worthless and should think about trying a totally different career path. This company would be doing everyone a favor by just cutting me loose.

I sincerely hope that everyone reading this finds themselves in Stage 1. However, there could be a few of you starting that slide of diminished confidence. What steps can you take to either stop that slide or to restore your confidence back to Stage 1? Let’s take a look at a few suggestions:

  1. Refresh your memory – Go back and review your resume. Remember why you were selected for this job. Consider again the skills, education, and ability your brought to this job. Recall what you were told when the job offer was made. Think about why you were the best choice and how you felt the day you said yes. There was a day that you were truly the best person for the role you have. Put yourself back to that day and refresh your approach.
  2. List your accomplishments – Think about everything positive you have accomplished in the past. Take out a piece of paper and list your accomplishments over the past few years of your career. Really, write them down. Think about those things that moved the needle or things that made a difference in your past. When you do this, you’ll see that you do have strong capabilities. You’ll see that you have been very successful in the past and, thus, there is no reason you cannot be successful in the future. Recall those individuals that have been impacted by your efforts. Consider the difference you have made for others. Include all these on your list. You might even keep this list and add to it from time-to-time. Reviewing this list can help reset your attitude about your own abilities.
  3. Seek input from trusted colleagues – Getting feedback from trusted colleagues is a gift. Having someone that can help you discern perception from reality is extremely valuable when restoring your confidence. You don’t want someone to simply “tickle your ears”, but you need the truth. Having a colleague help answer this question can be enlightening, “Are you making contributions and value?” Ask for help and ask for the truth. Then, be prepared to treat this feedback as the gift that it is.
  4. Be objective – Take a step back and look at your performance and contributions from your boss’ perspective. How would you rate your own performance if your view was the only one that counted? Use the truth to push yourself back up to Stage 1.
  5. Adjust your body language – As trivial as it may seem, a simple adjustment of your body language can make a difference in your confidence. By raising your head and adjusting the posture of your shoulders, you immediately get a more positive sense. Dressing more professionally can often accomplish the same. By adjusting your body language, you often adjust your attitude.
  6. Learn a new skill – Whenever you find yourself slipping in confidence, it may be time to learn a new skill. When you add to your own portfolio of skills, you can upgrade your own overall confidence.
  7. Teach someone else a skill – Likewise, finding someone else that you can teach or mentor can enhance your confidence. Passing it on is a great way to refresh your confidence.
  8. Boldly go forward – Be bold! Have courage! Individuals often find themselves slipping into Stage 4 or 5 because they become timid. It is a vicious cycle when we become less bold concurrently with becoming less confident. Enhancing our courage and subsequent boldness is a great way to break the spiral into despair.

The most important this about confidence is realizing when it has begun to slip. If you see yourself falling into Stage 2 or 3 or below, using the steps above to break that cycle is the best way to restoring your confidence.

Have a confident, wonderful, productive day! Hold your head up and accomplish something today that you thought was impossible. Make a difference for someone else. This could be your best day yet!

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