Authenticity, a bird showing its colors - Image by wasi1370 from Pixabay
Personal Brand,  Self-leadership

Beyond “Fake it Till You Make it”: A More Authentic Approach To Building Confidence

During the early days of my coaching career, when I said, “I am a coach,” my facial expression didn’t match it. The truth was, I didn’t feel confident about my new identity. Internally, I still saw myself as a software professional who was transitioning into coaching. And, as you can probably guess, the advice I received at the time was to “just believe it.” However, after 13 years, I’m here to tell you that I recommend a different approach.

Recently, I had the pleasure of working with a woman in her mid-30s, a software development manager at a startup. Let’s call her Jessica. She struggled to talk about her strengths and found it awkward to say things like, “I am strategic, detail-oriented, and customer-focused.”

The issue was that when we say “I am,” we refer to our identity. For example, “I am a mom,” “I am a woman,” and “I am a Bangladeshi born” are all examples of my identities. Of course, we all have many identities, including those tied to our profession. For instance, “I am a coach,” “I am a software engineering manager,” and so on. Identity encompasses everything that makes us who we are, such as our personality, beliefs, values, interests, and social roles. In addition, various factors, from culture and upbringing to experiences and relationships, influence it.

Neither Jessica nor I saw our skills, strengths, or training as part of our identities – at least not yet.

So, I suggested that Jessica shift her delivery from “I am” to “My strengths.” It worked like a charm – when she said, “My strengths are strategy, detail orientation, and customer-focused,” she felt more at ease.

Skills and strengths are traits that we’ve developed through practice and training. They might involve knowledge, expertise, and physical or mental abilities. However, they’re not necessarily part of our identity.

When we feel uneasy presenting ourselves, It’s tempting to follow the old advice of “fake it till you make it.” But unfortunately, that approach can be disingenuous and ultimately undermine our self-confidence. Instead, take a moment to dig deeper and identify the root of the discomfort. Connect with your inner truth and decouple it from your identity. Once you figure that out, you can communicate more objectively and authentically. Only then you will show up more confident and appealing to your audience.

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