For Impact


Building Confidence.

Personal | | Nick Fellers

This is a part 2 to yesterday’s nugget: On Confidence.

So how do we build confidence? Here are some ideas and observations based on our research and coaching: 

  • Be authentic. 

    It’s easier to be confident trying to figure out how to be you than to be someone else.

    If you are a junior fundraiser, this might mean learning how to develop your own voice, instead of trying to channel the CEO’s voice. 
  • Practice “self-talk anchored in something that’s real.”

    This is a profound insight offered from high-performance psychologist Dr. Michael Gervais. After helping Olympians and business MVP’s alike he summarizes the key to confidence and efficacy.

    He says that confidence is a psychological skill. It can be developed just like any other skill, through deliberate practice. In very simple terms, he says we need to write down the reasons why we should be confident about something and then practice reading and adopting those reasons so that they are strong enough to become part of our story. “Confidence comes from practicing self-talk anchored in something that’s real. You have to train to be confident!”
  • Do the preparation required to be confident.

    In our For Impact world this is about:
    • Building a strong funding rationale.
    • Doing the work and putting in the time to truly strategize what you’re going to say to prospects. 
    • Training around, or committing to, a sales process that you can trust again and again.
  • Take the focus off yourself. 

    This is a simple reminder to keep perspective. I don’t think this changes confidence levels, as much as it decreases the effects that can come from a lack of confidence. A few reminders in this regard.

    Psychologists estimate that 70% of us suffer from some form of imposter syndrome or another. (I have to imagine it’s more like 100% and 30% of those studied just aren’t honest.)

    Justice Sonia Sotomayor frequently talks about imposter syndrome in her memoir (but she is then quick to talk about how it fuels her to work hard and prove herself wrong.)

    Focus on the impact. You can transfer the focus on confidence (or lack thereof) to:
    • Confidence in solving the problem… 
    • Confidence in presenting the opportunity…  
    • Confidence in doing your best – today – to share the story and present the opportunity…