Editor’s note: I am delighted to have AMP – Associate Mentoring Plus coach Lora McInturf joining the writing team here at Attorney With A Life with this insightful first article about how to boosting confidence!
Confidence is a very common topic raised in coaching conversations by lawyers and other professionals alike. We all want to have more confidence in ourselves and our work. What makes confidence such a challenge for us?
One of the main reasons that confidence can be such a challenging issue is that confidence and competence are locked in an endless loop (like “the chicken or the egg causality dilemma”). We need confidence to grow our competence and yet we also need competence to feel more confident. How do we break through this dilemma?
One common suggestion is to “just start!” by diving right into the competence side of the loop. This is a fairly straightforward approach that can work for some people, but it doesn’t work for everyone.
Another approach is to focus on the confidence side of the loop. Here are three ways that, used separately or taken together, can give your confidence a jumpstart.
Capitalize on Confidence from Previous Successes
As lawyers, we have accomplished many things to get where we are today. Start by looking for where you successfully developed new skills or succeeded on past projects; expand out to include personal hobbies or other life experiences where you overcame a challenge and achieved something important. How did you succeed previously? What did success feel like then? Which strengths from those experiences can you draw on to bolster your confidence now?
Acknowledge Your Fears
Having to develop a new competence, or facing another kind of challenge, often generates fear in people (and lawyers are no exception). Common fears include fear of making a mistake, doing something embarrassing, losing control of the outcome, and more. Start by feeling where the fear sits in your body; accept that these are biological indicators to get your attention to check the risks involved. By taking the time to acknowledge your fears and understand what’s behind them, two things happen: first, you give yourself some needed psychological distance from your fears; and, second, you feel more confident armed with the additional information you learn about yourself and your challenge.
It is also important to note that only parts of you feel fear. What about the other parts of you?
Put Focus on the Positive Feelings and Possibilities
Don’t let your fears drown out what else you could be feeling about the current situation. For example, you may also be feeling excited and appreciated (to be given a certain opportunity) or inspired (by all the future possibilities waiting on the other side of success). What are the best things that could happen for you (both professionally and personally) if you succeed? Imagine what success here will feel like, look like, and sound like. What will other people notice? How will you celebrate your success?
Any one of these three ways can help you to jumpstart your confidence. Grow your confidence even further by applying all three. With this approach, you can break through the confidence-competence loop with the additional confidence you may need to take action on your challenge.
Building confidence is a cornerstone to having a thriving career in law. Lora works with Allison Wolf, the founder of AMP – Associate Mentoring Plus, which is a one-year group program providing a supportive community of lawyer coaches, mentors, and colleagues collaborating to provide learning, mentoring, and coaching opportunities for junior lawyers.
Interested in digging deeper into confidence? Join the lawyer coaches of AMP – Associate Mentoring Plus for a 90-minute webinar on “Changing the Conversation; Dispelling Myths Around Confidence in the Legal Profession”. Click here to register.