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Simple steps to build confidence, presented by WIL Alberta Chapter

Article contributed by Penny Izlakar with the WIL Alberta Chapter

Some Background.

Do you ever feel like you are in this perpetual career fishbowl where judgment, critics and advice are causing the water to overflow? I certainly have, and getting to a place where I have the confidence and the skills to push through when I haven’t been on a journey. There is always conflicting advice, techniques to try and personal attributes to “fix,” but we are all individual humans with different DNA. Our experiences, uniqueness, and life paths make it hard to provide a one-size-fits-all approach to building confidence. So I share the tips that have worked for me in hopes that they spark your curiosity and encourage you to experiment to see if they might work for you.

Tip 1 – 2 min Power Pose Pep-talk

David Nurse, author of Breakthrough, suggests embracing your imposture syndrome. If you have experimented with Amy Cuddy’s Power Poses TEDTalk idea, you know you can shift your thinking to embrace the uncomfortable. Many authors and presenters have adopted the power pose and self-pep talk. I suggest calling your HIPA (Highly Important Person of Awesomeness) to boost your confidence while striking a pose right before you have to do your uncomfortable activity.

My self-talk:

  • I know my material, I am passionate about a successful outcome, and this is yet another opportunity to hone my presentation skills; I am showing up authentically and am comfortable because I have prepared.

My preferred pose:

  • Stand like Wonder Woman, taking my hands off my hips and stretching them like a tall tree. Doing this makes me fill my space more, but it also helps relieve my tense muscles.

Be sure to find the power pose that helps you feel more confident in doing that you are not comfortable with yet.

Tip 2 – Experiment, Experiment, Experiment

When we are kids, our parents allow us daily opportunities to learn through experimenting; as we get older traditional rules squash our ability and desire to experiment freely. However, this is what we need to relearn to break out of our shells and demonstrate confidence. Of course, not all experiments will be successful, but you will always learn to stretch and grow. In the HBR article “How to get noticed by your boss’s boss,” Melissa Raffoni suggests embracing your growth mindset by seeking opportunities to take on special projects that will help both the company and yourself stretch yourself. David Nurse, the author of Breakthrough, also suggests volunteering for projects you expect to be uncomfortable doing or have not done before.

I can offer a tried and tested piece of advice – use these experimenting opportunities and “special projects” to challenge the ordinary course of business or status quo. Of course, your company expects it, and you should demand it of yourself. But, you can only grow if you have opened up yourself to flexing your growth mindset.

My approach to experimenting:

  • MVP (minimal viable product) things that are new to me and seek input from peers and leadership before I spend a significant amount of time trying to perfect work that is not hitting the mark.

  • To be honest that I am a recovering perfectionist striving to be more of an experimenter. I now follow the 80/20 rule of operational vs continuous improvement. Perfection is challenging in many industries as change is exponentially faster, so the agile approach to working excites me.

  • Read, read, and more reading. I have become obsessed with business and personal development books. I take bits and pieces from what I read and experiment to develop the right approach that works for me.

I embrace the uncomfortable of experimentation when I can see direct connections to topics or themes and how I can drive change in myself and others. How will you embrace the awkwardness and experiment? I hope you find the approach and path that pushes you and helps guide your growth mindset.

Tip 3 – Find your HIPA (Highly Important Person of Awesomeness)

We all have that one person that lifts us at work and helps make us more confident in our abilities. Imposture Syndrome begone when that person is around (in-person, on the phone, text, with teams, etc.). Your HIPA, the person you turn to when you need that confidence boost, should be part of your board of directors.

My approach to a personal board of directors:

  • I have 4-5 key people that compliment each other that I turn to when I need inspiration, advice, constructive feedback and a swift kick confidence butt to shrink my imposture syndrome self-talk.

  • I nurture those relationships by offering them the same courtesy if asked. Still, I am often their most prominent supporter and make sure they don’t need to ask for an imposture syndrome elimination session.

  • I have a few HIPAs that I turn to, including my work HIPA, personal branding HIPA, and my mentor HIPA!

Begin exploring your board of directors to see where you might need to invest time to build those relationships that boost your confidence anytime you need it. Oh, and make sure you recognize your HIPAs because who wouldn’t want to be considered your HIPA!


Building confidence is not a one-time exercise, and we ALL need a little bit of a confidence boost. My hope is one of the three tips I’ve shared could help you on a path to owning your awesomeness and shining in all aspects of your career journey. But, when you need a little bit of help because that darn imposture syndrome has kicked it, call your HIPA or strike a pose until you need to call upon those confidence boosters, experiment, experiment and experiment some more.

Leader. Efficiency Finder. Mentor. Leadership Advocate. Penny Izlakar


2 commenti

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