Day 22: Gather evidence of past success
It’s Day 22 of Confidence Boot Camp, and we are still here with you every day, working out to build those confidence muscles, and we’re happy you’re still with us, too. We’ve got a great topic for you today, and a special guest who will demonstrate a very simple technique for boosting your confidence, especially when you’ve had a confidence shake or a below-the-line day.
Our topic today is “Gather Evidence of Past Success”, and it comes from the Cognitive/Psychological domain of The Chemistry of Confidence. We learned this technique specifically from our colleague and inspiritor, Stormy Sweitzer. Last year, we were conducting a Villa Leadership program in the UK, and in our discussions of building confidence, Stormy shared an exercise that has helped her considerably in her life.
A little background: We met Stormy some years ago and started working with her shortly thereafter. She is a self-described “socialpreneur,” and lives a life of curiosity, contribution, exploration and adventure. We recently featured her here on our blog in our Spotlights, and will soon be sharing her full story in Aluminaria. (To list her achievements, contributions, experiences and ventures in this post might crash our site, so you'll have to read the story.) One of the things we love about Stormy, however, is the way she can blend big, lofty ideas (she writes and speaks about “wonder”) with practical, down-to-earth, do-able approaches to make life better. When she shared her idea of the evidence log or journal, the women in the program quickly embraced the idea, and many report they have been using it consistently since last year.
HOW TO KEEP AN EVIDENCE LOG
It’s quite simple: You keep a small notebook and designate it as your “evidence log”. Each day that you accomplish things that boost your confidence, take action to move you closer to your goals, have positive interactions with people, gain insights into yourself, or just have a good day for whatever reason, you record those experiences. These can become the building blocks of self-regard later on when you need them. When we’re feeling stuck or our confidence is rattled, it’s easy to forget that life has ebbs and flows, and it can be tough to remember how ecstatic you felt last month when you closed a big sale, when today all you did was deal with customer complaints.
Keeping an evidence log or journal allows us to maintain a more realistic view of ourselves over time. Research indicates that one of the challenges we frequently face as women is seeing our capabilities accurately, and then being able to talk about our accomplishments without feeling as if we are promoting ourselves. While the evidence log may not necessarily make us more comfortable with self-promotion, at least it can help us track the things that are working in our lives. Looking back over our successes can both help us see ourselves more clearly, and pump up our confidence to take on the next challenge.
CONNECTING THE DOTS
In his famous 2005 Commencement Address at Stanford University, Steve Jobs reminded the graduates to look backwards and “connect the dots” of their learning, and trust that whatever they pursue in the future will somehow connect back to the experiences of their past, whether they were positive or negative experiences. In other words, if we look back and see how our experiences have taught us and shaped us, we will be better equipped to leverage those experiences in the future. In order to measure progress, we have to look backward from whence we came. In our moments of fear, frustration, anxiety and uncertainty, we can easily forget that we already have a track record of good performance.
We hope you will watch Stormy’s brief explanation of how she uses the evidence log, and then challenge yourself with some of the practice exercises outlined below.
1. Get a small journal that is separate from your other writing notebooks. It’s best if this journal is small and can travel with you in your bag. It needs to be visible to you—not stashed under a pile of papers on your desk or otherwise stored “safely” away.
2. Start by thinking back over the last week of events you might call your “victories”—big or small. What did you do that made you feel capable, strong, confident, or happy? Record it in your journal. “Seed” the journal with two or three entries if you can.
3. Commit to writing something down at least three times in the coming week. (If you can do it every day, it’s better, but don’t set yourself up for disappointment or accept your Lizard’s invitation that you can’t be consistent with any new habits.)
4. At the end of the week, look back over your evidence log, and note how reviewing your successes makes you feel. Then record that in the journal—another success!
5. If you really want to challenge yourself, try this exercise. It is a great way to reframe some of our past negative experiences into a positive light, and connect the dots for future success.
- Start by selecting the first negative experience that comes to mind that you’ve had in your life. It could be a childhood experience or a more recent one. It doesn’t matter if the situation was in or out of your control.
- For each experience, you follow this simple formula:
“Had I not _______________________ (negative experience),
I would not have __________________(positive experience)."
Here are some examples:
"Had I not been fired from my job for challenging the company’s policy, I would not have earned my law degree, and would not now be working in labor law advocating for employee rights."
"Had I not broken my ankle on the ski slope last winter, I would not have met my now-fiancé in the emergency department at the hospital."
"Had I not been raised in a family with very little money, I would not have learned to work hard and be financially independent."
If you gather evidence of your past successes, you’ll see more clearly how capable you are, and you can feel more confident in your own competence. And, as we discussed on Day 18: Define Yourself, you’ll be able to more easily talk about your accomplishments without feeling like you are bragging, because you have the evidence in your log to back you up.
Thank you, once again, for following our daily tips and tricks here at Confidence Camp. We’ll see you tomorrow!
Your loving Confidence Camp Crew
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