Crash Course

Day 4

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Hello lovely and thank you for joining me for Day 4 of Searching for Serenity's 7 day video tutorial series, the Crash Course to Boosting Your Confidence at Work.

This week we are focused solely on boosting your confidence.  This something that I could, and if you work with me 1:1 probably would spend, 3 months working on your confidence and how you perceive yourself.  

So many of the women I work with have a real problem with negative self talk and feeling guilty; if they are at work they feel guilty that they aren't at home spending time with their families and if they aren't at work they feel guilty for spending time with the family rather than being at their desk at work!  Damned if you do and damned if you don't.

If there is one thing I know about you, it's that you are modest.  You might know that you have done a good job but you don't feel you can say it.  You will struggle with finding positive evidence for yourself whilst being able to focus on all the positives of the people around you.  So that is what we are focusing on this week.  I might term this an annual review but what we are really doing is taking every piece of external evidence that you can find to validate that feeling of confidence and keep you feeling buoyed.

Today is probably my favourite task of the whole week.

Yesterday we looked at your job description and your CV and I asked you not only to focus on your basic work tasks, but also to look at the things that you and you alone bring to the table.  Whether that is that you are incredibly empathetic and are the one who people turn to for support, whether you're the one who brings the cakes in to boost morale when tough times are hitting; whatever it might be is what makes you, you.

When was the last time you had a piece of positive feedback.  Perhaps your boss said it was a job well done or that they were grateful; perhaps a client sent you a gift or a thank you card, maybe if you're a teacher, one of your students or their parents brings a thank you present in because they have seen really progress.

When you receive that thanks or praise, what do you do with it?

I bet you kept it on your desk for a while, or took it home to show others, and eventually it got put into a pile with other things and got forgotten about.

If it was verbal praise or something delivered on email, it was probably gone the moments the words were spoken.

That's not good enough.

We so rarely hold on to the positive things, and by 'we' I mean 'me' as well, I've struggled with this.  We focus on the negative and believe the negative to be true even in the face of overwhelming positive evidence to the contrary.

So, the task for today is gathering together every scrap of external evidence, everything that has come from someone else, and putting that evidence in one place.

I'll tell you a little story.  

As you may know, I am a qualified and practising lawyer, have been for quite a while now.  There was a very long time when I received nothing much more than the occasional 'thanks for you help' email from my clients.  I didn't feel valued, important in their eyes, and to a certain extent I probably wasn't because I didn't feel important.  I didn't have the confidence, the gravitas, the ability to tell them yes and no, and I struggled.

Fast-forward a few years to around the time I qualified and, at that time; I received bouquet of flowers after bouquet of flowers from friends and colleagues who were so proud of me for qualifying.  And a couple of years after that, I started receiving gifts from clients.  Not just a thanks over the phone, handwritten notes sent to me.  Cards that had lengthy explanations of how much I had helped them, even bottles of champagne.  Which I kept.  I kept them and displayed them in pride of place so that, every day I had something that, if someone shouted at me or told me I wasn't good enough, I would come home and look at hotel handwritten note from my client who had bought me a bottle of champagne for Christmas to tell me that I was appreciated.  Because I made a difference to that person.

That is what we are looking at today.  Firstly we are looking at every scrap of positive evidence we have and secondly, what it means for you.

I want you to get a box, a book, something, some physical thing or place, where you can start to put everything together.   Every card you have received from a client or a person you have taught, whoever it might be, goes in the box.  Every email that you receive from your boss with the words 'well done' or 'thank you' (once you have snipped out any confidential information from the email!) gets printed and goes in the box.

Every time a feedback form goes out and you receive 10/10 or a comment that you were fantastic or so kind, goes in the box.  Every time someone comments 'well done' or 'I think you handled that really well' 'thank you for your support' whoever it might be, you write it in the book.  

Every single piece of evidence goes in there.  

Now, I'm not suggesting you breach client security by putting the name, address and telephone number of the individual in there, but enough that, when you read it back, will know who it was from.  However you identify it, you must be able to remember the comment and directly link yourself to the moment that you received your compliment, because that is what we are doing here.
In that moment of receiving the positive feedback there is a warm, glowing feeling and you feel incredibly positive.  Especially if it is someone who has been difficult to deal with ... and then it goes by the wayside because something else happens

What we are doing is preserving those pockets of time, those moments when you felt really happy, went bright pink and blushed because of how effusive someone was, or the moment you thought 'damn right you'll say thank you because I worked bloody hard there!'.

This serves a couple of different purposes.

Firstly, it is all there if you need to go for a new job, update your CV, here s your collated information to show how good you are.

Secondly, we keep the book for every bad day.  Have a bad day?  Come home and read the book for five minutes.  Because what you forget in the day to day of work is that the negative is as transitory as the positive.  We just focus on the negative more.  We need to focus more on the positive.

Finally, this book will grow.  There will be many volumes of this book.  What you do over the years might change, the feedback you receive might change, but it is a journal of sorts, to refer back to and to see how far you have come and how you have grown and what your strengths are.
If every feedback form said that you are great listener then that is clear evidence that you are doing something amazingly well and you might want to explore that further.

Today is not just about grabbing your notebook, it's about grabbing a pretty box (RANT: get a pretty box for this!  This isn't some crappy shoebox that you throw everything into, much like I did my university notes, this is something to grow and cherish and is beauty.  It is about linking to that feeling of being on top of the world and feeling unbeatable, so many it beautiful, even if it is just a little bit of Xmas wrapping paper wrapped around it.)

Make it beautiful; make it something that you cherish.

I would love to hear how you get on with this task and what evidence you have to hand of your positive work and strengths.  For me, I always kept copies of my feedback forms in the bottom drawer of my desk and would pull them out and read them if I was having a bad day at work, and I would remember what it was like to deal with those clients.  I would also remember how many of those clients had been difficult; I might have gotten a 10/10 at the end but those clients might have hated me for the 9 months prior because they weren't getting their way.  When they were happy, at the end, they could look back and see I had done a good job.  

So, this is also a reminder that the positives often develop out of the negatives, from which we learn, grow and develop, as professionals and people and sometimes you need a reminder of this when it hits the fan.

I would love to hear from you, what positive evidence you have, what you are collecting from clients and colleagues to put in the pretty box.

As ever, you can reach out to me at the Searching for Serenity Facebook group or email me at

I would love to hear from you and hear how you are getting on with this.

I will be back in your inbox tomorrow to continue with this 'annual review process' (but hopefully you are not finding it as painful as you usually do!).

Having an amazing day, bye for now!