In my work, I've seen a striking correlation between the questions and issues athletes battle with on the pitch or court and the ones that we all face in our daily lives - self-doubt, lack of confidence, a desire to be perfect.
We can't always be on our A game every day but there are some approaches you can take, like athletes, to make sure you put in the best performance you can manage.
No matter whether you are on the sports pitch or at work, there are many things which can kill your confidence - comparisons with others, negative self-talk, the pursuit of perfectionism and focusing on what others think of you.
So, how can you overcome these confidence killers?
1. Comparing yourself to others:
As Teddy Roosevelt said, "Comparison is the thief of joy".
In a sporting environment, it's very easy to look at an opponent and think they are better than you, based on their previous results or reputation.
In a working environment, people can equally become intimidated by colleagues who seem more confident, better at public speaking or able to produce work quickly and effectively.
It's important to notice when you're spending time thinking about how good someone else is and not paying attention to how great YOU are. Remind yourself by writing down your top 5 strengths and keeping them to hand.
2. Combating negative self-talk:
The human brain tends to have a negativity bias (NCBI research "Not all emotions are equal" ) which means that we spend more time focusing on things that went wrong rather than our successes. We often talk to ourselves in a way we would never speak to a close friend or relative.
Having confidence in sport is a key attribute for success. Matches can deteriorate into a disaster once self-confidence is eroded.
This principal is no different in everyday life. If you constantly put yourself down and doubt your own abilities, then you are not giving yourself the opportunity to succeed.
Treat yourself with compassion and when that inner self-critic tries to put you down, refute it and look for evidence, as quite often, our beliefs are built on unfounded misconceptions.
3. Pursuing Perfection:
Many athletes want be on perfect form to succeed, but, life is not about performing flawlessly in the big moments, it's about achieving your end goal even when mistakes are present.
Nobody is perfect and mistakes are something we all make and can learn from. They shouldn't derail us from our target. If you don't experience bad times, how do you recognise the good times?
Whatever your end goal is, it's important that you believe in your own ability to reach that goal and overcome every bump along the road.
As author Roy T. Bennett said, "Believe in your infinite potential. Your only limitations are those you set upon yourself".
4. Focusing on what others think:
A real confidence killer can be the concern of other people's opinions.
In sport, some athletes worry about what a coach, pier group or family member may think if they fail. This can add extra pressure to a performance which may result in negative results.
Similarly in life, if you are constantly concerned about the opinion of others, you are likely to be focusing on a negative aspect about yourself - whether that's your appearance, intellect, sociability or self-worth.
Become aware of when you are worrying about outside opinions. We like to think we can mind read and so often we are wrong! We base our concerns on a lack of evidence and build up stories in our heads about what people might be saying about us.
When this happens, ask yourself, where is my evidence?
The first step to overcoming confidence killers is to be aware of when they are present in your life.
Next time you find yourself doubting your own efficacy, comparing yourself to others, pushing yourself too hard in pursuit of perfection or worrying about what other people might think, remember, this will only serve to harm you.