Recently I competed in the CrossFit Open, and I was surrounded by athletes who were pushing the limits of their abilities and endurance. One day, when the going got tough, I picked up a few pointers from a guy who’s currently ranked 28th in the world. It took me a minute, but then I said to him “How many people are 28th in the world… in anything?” It’s impressively mind blowing! So we talked about what that meant for him.
I went home and started thinking: despite his unassuming manner, it’s obvious that his physical strength gives him the confidence to excel in other areas of his life, not just at the gym. And then it hits me… Here is someone who is truly ‘grounded in his strength’, which is an important key to business strength.
Here’s the deal: when I’m not physically training for something, I’m training corporate executives on how to communicate with strength and confidence. Both require effort, determination and enthusiasm. Over the last 20 years working with business exec’s on public speaking, there’s one thing I know for sure: Nearly everyone would rather be in the audience than on stage giving the presentation. And quite often their reluctance has to do with low levels of confidence.
Strength builds confidence, it’s as simple as that. So I coach my clients to get ‘grounded in strength’ before walking on stage to send confident messages to the brain exactly when they need them.
The problem is, many people have a hard time identifying their strengths, and therefore have nothing to draw on when the going gets tough.
In fact, in any evaluative situation where stress levels are high (whether they are on stage delivering a speech, in a conference room negotiation, in an interview, or in some kind of competition) it’s important to be able to project strong levels of confidence… but that confidence has to come from somewhere.
(Certainly if you and I were 28th in the world in something, our confidence would stem from that. Since we’re not, here’s the workaround:)
Identify your strength in a few activities, and then identify where you’d like increased strength:
Notice that the questions ask what you’re doing “right now”. Don’t pull from something you did 30 years ago and expect a surge of confidence. It’s important to pull from your current, present-day activities, and then write these two things down on a piece of paper, side by side. Take what you do well and let it help you perform better in the areas you want to improve. Basically, use the strength from what you’re strong in to give you confidence in what you’re not.
For example: I just hit a new PR on my bench press this week. Rocked that! But when I got in the pool for a 2 mile workout I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. After 60 laps my shoulders were screaming at me. But you can’t quit at 60 when 66 is 2 miles, so I needed to find that last bit of strength. I pulled from my success earlier in the day, got my brain wrapped around that feeling, and I finished.
This example uses athletic activities, but it’s easy to translate this to the business world: Bring your strength from one area, walk into that stressful situation and use these exact words:
“I did that. I can do this.”
I’ve used this technique myself and I’ve shared it many times in my professional training. Once you are able to identify your strength, you become better equipped to handle pretty much anything that gets thrown your way. This is not an arrogant confidence, but a strong, genuine confidence.
This is the foundation to becoming “Grounded in Strength”. Good Luck!
English Channel swimmer, public speaker and communication strategist, Kate Nugent Curtis has been helping business executives succeed for over 20 years. Founder of Communication Tactics and Grounded in Strength, Kate applies the principles of athletic success to push performance both in and out of the conference room. She is the author of Six-Word Lessons for Strength-Based Business Success.