Building Confidence by Trusting in What You Know

In The Ride of A Lifetime, Bob Iger writes that you have to trust in what you know as a leader. If you start doubting what you know it will be incredibly hard to choose a direction, make decisions and you’ll stall your progress. You can’t keep going back and reviewing. I have also found that this is a key piece of building confidence as a leader. If you doubt yourself, you’ll stop before you ever start. It’s ok to not know everything, but what you do know is where you’ll start in solving any problem. But what you know isn’t only facts and data, it’s also your gut reaction and your ability to silence self-doubt.

Go with Your Gut

Last summer, my parents came to visit and we were grilling for dinner. My husband mentioned that he was afraid of undercooking chicken when he grills it so he ends up overcooking it a bit. My dad replied with “you have to trust your chicken”. His point being that my husband knew he was overcooking it and knew the point when he thought, “I think it’s done, but I’ll leave it for another minute.” Now he listens to his gut and takes the chicken off when he has that thought.

It’s developed into a bit of a saying in our house when one of us is doubting what we know. You have to trust your gut. It’s constantly yelling the right direction and instead of listening, we tend to doubt ourselves. You have to trust your chicken. When your gut is telling you something, it’s generally right. Your gut is a key piece of what you know.

Silence Self-Doubt

Something inside us tells us that we can. Whether it’s an idea we got from past successes, or that fierce version of you believing you can achieve any goal you set, something tells you that you can conquer anything, solve any problem and overcome any obstacle. It also might be an exceptional amount of movies where the heroine triumphs. Regardless of where it comes from, you know that you can do something. It’s part of what you know. Don’t let your mind doubt your expertise or ability. 

“Don’t waste life in doubts and fears; spend yourself on the work before you, well assured that the right performance of this hour’s duties will be the best preparation for the hours and ages that will follow it.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Focus on the Facts

Over time, you will add to what you know through experience, information and learning. When you are faced with a new challenge or decision, it’s natural to review what you know as it may have changed. Reviewing what you know is different than questioning what you know. It may be an exercise in physically writing down what you know so you can connect your thoughts to something tangible. Once you’ve restated what you know, gather new facts needed to move forward (if any) and be empowered to act. If you focus on the facts instead of feelings associated with that decision or problem, you’ll free up your critical thinking brain to do it’s best work. 

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Trusting in what you know consistently will help train your mind to be confident in who you are as a leader. The more you practice trusting your gut, silencing doubts and reviewing facts instead of feelings, the more you will be able to do those three things naturally. Confidence is more about practice and a deliberate choice to trust in what you know.

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