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How to Have Confidence in Who You Are — Bright Space Coaching | Leadership Development for Women in STEM

(Last Updated On: April 18, 2021)

Last Updated on April 18, 2021 by Admin

Have you ever been called, “too much?”

How about, “too quiet,” or “too sensitive?”

Those judgements from others about how we should be can erode our confidence.

Especially when they come from people we love and admire.

In Luvvie Ajayi Jones’ new book, Professional Troublemaker: The Fear-Fighter Manual, she says that when someone calls you “too” something, it’s more of a statement on them than it is on you.

Still, it can be hard to remember that in the moment, or when those words begin to fill you with self-doubt.

By knowing and owning who you are, you can begin to build confidence in yourself that withstands hurtful criticism from others.

Because when you stand strong in who you are, no one can take that away from you.


Here’s how to have confidence in who you are:

Identify your core values

Core values are the fundamental beliefs you have about your life.

They guide your behaviors, decisions, and actions. They bring about a sense of purpose and self-worth. They remind you what’s important to you and what you want more of in your life.

When you know what’s important to you, you can live in alignment with those values. This leads to greater fulfillment, clarity and self-awareness.  

This self-awareness allows you to build confidence in who you are. In this world of comparison, it’s so easy to look at other people’s lives and want to be like them. Or, if you’re in an organization where you feel out of place, it can be tempting to try to act like the other leaders just to fit in

Here’s the truth: you were never meant to be like anyone else.

There is only one you. There will only ever be this one you. No one else will ever come close to the unique experiences, strengths, values, skills, and gifts that you possess.

Why give all that up to be like someone you’re not?

Your core values help you stay true to who you are and how you’re meant to show up in the world. Acting like someone you’re not is robbing the world of your brilliance and generosity and caring and compassion.

To identify your core values, start by thinking about the times you were the most happy, proud, or fulfilled: what were you doing? What contributed to these feelings? You can also start with this list of common core values for inspiration.

You can also think about times or situations in your life that create conflict. If you’re working more than 50 hours each week and you feel frustrated or wish you could spend more time with your family, maybe your values are family or work-life balance. If your boss is a micromanager who constantly looks over your shoulder and pushes you on deadlines, and you feel trapped or discouraged, maybe one of your values is autonomy or independence.

Start to make a list of the values you identify from these stories and this list of common core values. Write down everything that comes to mind.

Once you have a good list, see if you can combine any of the values on your list to start narrowing down to your top 5. For example, if you value philanthropy, generosity, kindness, and community service, you could combine those into a single “giving back” or “serving others” value.

Why 5? Well, if everything’s important, nothing is important. Keeping your list to five core values allows you to easily weigh options, make decisions, and align your actions with your purpose.

When you have the five values that feel the most aligned or resonate most with you, write them at the top of a fresh page in your journal.

Once you’ve written down your top values, it’s time to define them. Sure, you could google the definition or look it up in a dictionary, but defining your values in your own words is a powerful way to connect deeply to what’s most important to you.

For example, one of my values is Courage. The dictionary definition of Courage is: “the ability to do something that frightens one.”

And my personal definition of Courage is (from my Core Values Statement):

“Courage is about taking action, even when it’s scary, even when it’s unpopular, even if everyone else will think I’m crazy. It’s acting anyway, despite my own fears and insecurity, in service of others. Acting in the face of self-doubt, uncertainty, and hesitation. Courage is about making a statement with my action, leading with my heart, and showing up in fierce alignment with my purpose. It’s about being strong enough in my inner wisdom that I can tell my brain, “no thank you,” when it invites me to stop. Courage keeps me aligned and focused on my path and purpose.”

Which version sounds more meaningful? Which one sounds more personal?

Creating your own definition makes each of your values more real to you. Even if others have the same value as you, it’s unlikely that they’ll define their value in the same way you’d define yours.

Defining your core values also helps you remember what each of your values means to you. Sometimes, we have the tendency to take our values for granted. But writing down your own definition helps to solidify each value’s meaning in your life and reminds you to align back to your values when you want to better understand who you are.


Related: How Core Values Help You Find Your Purpose


Own your strengths

Now that you know your core values, it’s time to identify and own your strengths.

We spend so much of our lives trying to “fix” our weaknesses: overcompensating for a lack of knowledge in one area by spending hours on YouTube trying to learn or practice it. Or measuring ourselves against an ideal we’ll never meet.

This always reminds me of the parable: “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

Stop judging yourself on your weaknesses, the things you aren’t good at, or the things you dislike doing.

In fact, I don’t even like to use the word, “weakness.” To me, it represents a false ideal that the patriarchy established to keep women and people of color from advancing in their careers.

I do like Marcus Buckingham’s definition of weakness, which is anything that weakens you; things that drain your energy. And in that vein, strengths are the things that strengthen you.

That just feels like a better way to describe the things we’re not good at. Because the truth is: you’re never going to be good at everything. It’s unrealistic, and it’s hurting your confidence.

Instead, focus on your strengths; the things that strengthen you.

When I work with clients, I always have them take the Gallup StrengthsFinder Assessment before we begin our coaching relationship. I love it because it provides a common language for my client and I to talk about their strengths and what they’re good at. 

When you take the assessment, you’ll receive a report with your Top 5 Themes (or strengths). You can read the descriptions to better understand each of the themes, highlight the words or phrases that sound most like you, and cross out the words and phrases that sound least like you.

Then, grab your journal and write about how you see each of these strengths playing out in your daily life. For example, if one of your strengths is Responsibility, what examples do you have when you were responsible for someone or something? How did that strength serve you in that situation?

If you haven’t taken the StrengthsFinder assessment, you could complete the “Best Self” exercise I share when you take my free Feminine Leadership Styles Quiz. In this exercise, you’ll ask your friends, coworkers or mentors to tell you about a time when you were at your best. From there, you can identify the characteristics each of those stories had in common to form your top strengths.

My Feminine Leadership Styles Quiz is also a great way to get to know yourself better. Anytime you improve your self-awareness, you form a stronger picture of who you are. And as that picture becomes clearer, you begin to build a solid foundation of confidence that helps you navigate negative feedback, comments or criticism.


Related: How to Build Confidence by Trusting Yourself


Celebrate your accomplishments

This can be tough, but the things you’ve achieved over your lifetime help create a solid track record of your expertise and a clear picture of who you are.

Documenting your accomplishments also helps you see patterns in your achievements over time. You might start out with some small wins and notice the progress you’re making toward a bigger goal.

You might also notice that all of your achievements relate to helping others or making more money or hitting career milestones. Those patterns help you understand what motivates you and what’s most important to you. And there’s no right or wrong answer here!

There are three ways you can start celebrating your accomplishments. The first is to do a decade review of your life. You can separate your life into decades (0-10, 11-20, 21-30, etc.) and list out all of your accomplishments from that time period.

Starting with your youngest years helps you put your accomplishments into perspective; they don’t always have to be something major like getting a promotion or being booked out with your dream clients. When you’re young, an accomplishment might be making a new friend or winning the spelling bee or learning how to ride a bike.

And that goes for each decade of your life. You don’t have to limit yourself to looking for the biggest or grandest achievements. Don’t think about what others would consider an accomplishment; what are you proud of? What achievements really speak to who you are as an individual? Write those down and celebrate them! 

The second way to celebrate your accomplishments is to take note of them each day. This can definitely be a challenge, especially if you are someone who doesn’t like to talk about themselves or sound too braggy. Well, here’s your permission slip to start bragging!

Each day, grab your journal and write about your accomplishments for the day, no matter how big or small. Sometimes taking a shower or skipping a glass of wine is an accomplishment. Really open your mind here and let the celebration commence!

You can write about your accomplishments before you go to bed each night, or you can do this as part of your morning ritual and write about your accomplishments the previous day. Whatever works best for you and helps you build a habit around this activity.

Finally, you can collect evidence of your success. Sometimes external validation is a great way to build confidence in who you are.

Start by combing through your inbox – did you receive any emails thanking you for your hard work? Anyone give you positive feedback or praise for something amazing or important you did? Save these to a “Celebration” folder or print them out and keep them in a physical folder for you to go back to.

Sometimes we forget the little things we’ve accomplished or the people we’ve helped because we just think that’s part of our jobs. But as empowered, professional women, it’s important to own and celebrate any accomplishment without taking them for granted.

You deserve to celebrate the amazing person you are. You deserve to own your strengths and expertise and achievements. And when you make a conscious effort to celebrate yourself, you’ll notice how your confidence soars.


Stand in your power

Knowing who you are is a powerful way to overcome your fears and truly live your purpose. And when you are clear on who you are, you can use that as fuel to empower yourself.

No one else can give you power; you already have the power within you. Building your confidence and getting clear on who you are will help you stand in your power. So will understanding your worth and value.

Worth is inherent; we are all worthy. Value is different for each of us, because we all have a unique blueprint of strengths and experience that make us who we are. Identifying this value is another way you can build confidence and stay true to who you are.

In marketing, to prove something’s value, we use a Unique Selling Proposition, or USP. In other words, what makes this product or service stand out from its competitors? Well, I like to use my own version of USP: Unique Soul Perspective.

Your Unique Soul Perspective is the combination of traits, experiences, strengths, passions, purpose and values that make you stand out. That give you an edge. That prove that you have something valuable to offer the world (because you do!).

When you’re connected to something meaningful, something bigger than yourself, you can use that connection to stand in your power. Identifying your core values and finding your life purpose are two ways you can get clear on what really matters to you.

And when you’re clear on your purpose and how you’re meant to serve the world, you can align your career or job to your strengths, skills, and expertise. When you’re in a role where you use your strengths and expertise on a daily basis, you start to build even more confidence in yourself.

So, what is your USP? Being a leader in your field? Being the go-to expert on a specific system or topic? Being the first woman to do something? Leveraging your experience to help someone else? Using your unique perspective to change someone else’s?

And how can you use this unique value to remind yourself that you are capable, competent and worthy of being confident in who you are?


The Takeaway

Confidence comes from a deep trust in who we are. You can build confidence in who you are by identifying your core values and strengths, celebrating your accomplishments, and standing in your unique power. When you are clear on who you are, no one can take that away from you.

Take action now: Start by identifying your core values and your strengths. Use these to create an image of who you are. Then, choose one of the methods for listing your accomplishments and celebrate yourself! Finally, get to know your USP and shout it from the rooftops. This is who you are, and you’re here to stand in your power. So what if you’re too much?

What did you learn about yourself from these exercises? How will this help you build confidence in who you are? Leave me a comment and let me know! 

Sign up for the free masterclass, Thrive Beyond the 9-5, where you’ll learn how to turn your strengths and passions into a thriving business. You’ll learn how to leverage your strengths, skills, and career experience to start a business that aligns with who you are, so you can get paid for what you already know – at double (or triple!) your current rates. Click here to sign up for instant access to the free training!

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