Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Bake Off Confidence

I may as well add my adulation of The Great British Bake Off’s winner Nadiya Hussain by quoting her moving and inspiring words as so many others are doing since she won last week:

"I'm never going to put boundaries on myself ever again. I'm never going to say 'I can't do it'. I'm never going to say 'maybe'. I'm never going to say 'I don't think I can'. I can and I will."

Nadiya didn’t just speak to Bake Off fans who have been following her up and down and up journey over the past 12 weeks; her words will resonate with anyone who has ever struggled with confidence, felt a failure, given up before they’ve begun, let their limiting beliefs stop them from trying.

Now, of course, Nadiya spent 12 weeks in the crucible of fire known as the Bake Off Tent, with cameras poised to capture her facial expressions, emotions, her disasters (not all that many) and her triumphs (quite a few). 

Clearly, most of us don’t have to challenge our confidence levels in quite such a public way, yet Nadiya summed up what so many people feel who struggle with self-confidence:  she had to battle her lack of belief in herself which at times got in the way of her talents and gifts.

With millions watching, she battled her demons and won.

Let’s look at a few things you can do when you find yourself saying, “I don’t think I can.”

Identify those demons and limiting beliefs.  For many people their behaviour is often of the knee-jerk variety where they react first and often don’t ask questions of themselves at all.  “I don’t think I can” comes out of their mouths because they’ve already convinced themselves they can’t.

It really does help to take time to list what those beliefs actually are and how true they are.  When I was a child I was told that I couldn’t draw and it really stopped me picking up a pencil or even some crayons for all my childhood, teen years and early 20s.  My fingers would itch to draw but my head would remind me that I couldn’t do it.

Finally, I discovered stick figures and that I could draw stick figures that had real character.  I somehow found a way around my limiting belief that fulfilled my drawing need. 

So much of what limits us are messages we got when we were young and those messages get internalised so they feel real.

They aren’t.

You already do some things really well and you’ll have some lovely qualities; it’s always a confidence booster to remind yourself what those are.  They don’t have to be big, major things; they can be loads of small things you do well:  offering to make colleagues tea, remembering to put the bins out, being on time, being cheerful when you get into work.  Often we think something has to be earth-shattering to qualify as worthy. 

One thing you can do is to look back on the past three to six months and think about anything you’ve done that you feel proud of achieving.  For instance, I’m proud that I filed my taxes ahead of time.  Now I pretty much file my taxes ahead of time very year, but just because it’s part of my normal routine it doesn’t mean I can’t be proud of it as an achievement.

We sometimes set the bar of what’s ‘acknowledgeable’ way too high.

Next, identify your passions – you’ll have loads of those.  Things that make your heart sing and you senses stir.  Again, they don’t have to be grand passions; you can be passionate about salted caramel flavoured ice cream or Marvel comic books or Downton Abbey.  What’s important is that you acknowledge the passions you have and that they say something about who you are.

Accepting all of that – your qualities, accomplishments, things you’re proud of and your passions – can help build your confidence.  Most of us spend way too much time telling ourselves, ‘maybe’ and ‘I can’t do it’ and ‘I don’t think I can’ when, actually, like Nadiya, we can and we ‘should’.


Check out Impact Factory’s range of Personal Impact, Assertiveness and ConflictManagement courses.


By Jo Ellen Grzyb, Director, Impact Factory

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