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Overcoming Failure: Regaining Your Self-Confidence After it Takes a Hit

October 6, 2019

Kathleen Laney

There is nothing like a good old-fashioned failure to send your self-confidence into a free fall. And it happens to everyone eventually, including yours truly. 


Common career failures can range from the everyday, such as losing a key client account or receiving critical feedback; to the more significant, such as being turned down for a promotion or fired from your job. These failures can inflict damage that can deeply rattle your confidence. If it’s bad enough, your very sense of self gets shattered and you can even begin to wonder if you have any strengths at all.


“Confidence comes naturally with success. But success comes only to those who are confident.” - Unknown


Defined, self-confidence is merely a belief or feeling of trust in your abilities, qualities and judgement to successfully perform a desired behavior. And it is an incredibly important trait to have. Think about how often you perform a task that you believe is a waste of time or is utterly impossible. My guess is, never.


Research shows that when your self-confidence is high, you are able to concentrate better, generate positive emotions, increase effort, and give yourself the motivation you need to achieve your goals. In fact, confidence is often the key differentiator between those who succeed and those who don’t.


So, if we do lose our confidence, how can we get it back?


Knowing how to restore confidence when it takes a dip is an essential skill. Chances are, that if you’re working hard and making moves to advance in your life and career, the uncomfortable truth is that you will fail at times, and almost assuredly you will fail more than the average person. 


The goal then for today’s parking professionals should not be to avoid failure and stay in your comfort zone, but instead, build a resilient internal environment so that when - not if - failure does smack you in the face, you can smack right back.


The following are three tips to help you regain your confidence after it takes a hit.


1- Reframe your experience.


“There is no such thing as failure, you either win or you learn.” - Nelson Mandela


The real value of failure is a lesson learned. Your losses could make you feel defeated, keep you on the sidelines, and brand you as a failure - or you have the choice to see these moments as an opportunity to grow, learn, and rebuild for the future. That doesn’t mean it won’t hurt. But it does mean that your “failure” isn’t the full story. The rest of the story is how you move forward and what you choose to learn by seeing the situation differently. 


Reframing your failures as growth opportunities allows you to expand the knowledge that is the foundation for your self-confidence. This process will help you transform the beliefs that don’t help you accomplish your goals into ones that do. Understanding why something didn’t work as expected and taking ownership for the mess-up is a sign of growth and maturity. After all, failure is inevitable, it’s how you process those failures that is up to you. 


2- Fake it ‘til you make it.


“If you think you can, or you think you can’t - you’re right” - Henry Ford


As with many clichés, this one has a bit of truth to it. Feeling truly confident, especially after a setback, doesn’t happen instantaneously. In the meantime, keep your head up high, smile and “fake it ‘till you make it.” There’s a lot to be said about the power of positive thinking and having the right attitude.


“Faking it” doesn’t mean lying about who you are, your abilities or what you have accomplished. This kind of faking it means choosing to “act as if” you are already the confident person you want to be. The idea is that if you behave as you believe, your belief will eventually become reality. Faking it should never be a permanent solution to a dip in self-confidence, but when done right, it won’t need to be.


3- Stay in the game. 


“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.” - Martin Luther King Jr


If you’re looking to recover your self-confidence, there is nothing quite like getting back up on the horse. But let’s be honest: Quitting can feel pretty damn good sometimes. When you decide to ditch a challenging project or avoid taking a risk, a sense of relief can replace a sense of dread. And when you’re feeling particularly unsure, quitting often seems like the best viable option. 


However, true satisfaction doesn’t come from avoiding blows to your self-confidence. True satisfaction comes from sticking with the opportunities that are difficult and challenge you. 


“Confidence Breeds Confidence” - Richard Branson


Try applying these three tips now, if you are in a rut, or save this column for a rainy day when your struggle is real. But remember, the secret for how to regain your self-confidence is that you don’t wait for it to happen. You go after it. Because, for others to believe in you, you must first believe in yourself.


 


A note from JVH:


I heartily agree with Kathleen. It’s interesting, I blogged about this topic just this week. I include the blog here:


Failure, or the fear of failure, can be disastrous. If we are so afraid to fail, we never begin, the disaster may be larger than failure itself. I’m sure you are aware that most of the great successes were built on attempts that failed. It could be said that failure is as important as success.


Astro Teller, the leader of Google’s “X” program, says they try to make a program fail before they try to make it succeed. In an article for the New York Times and in a Ted Talk, Teller says that if they can make a program fail early on, much time and money is saved. Plus, spin offs from the program can become successes.


Astrid reviews in September’s Parking Today Ed Catmull’s exciting and thoughtful book Creativity, Inc. In it, Catmull stresses how important mistakes and failure are to the success of any venture. As Astrid writes in the review:


Catmull invites us to be introspective and to change our perception. Mistakes are a necessary evil. If we are in the arena as Teddy Roosevelt said, mistakes will be made. Failure is painful but how we feel about failure doesn’t have to be painful. “We need to think about failure differently. … failure, when approached properly, can be opportunity for growth.” So, as Andrew Stanton, creator of Finding Nemo and other films at Pixar says, “fail early and fail fast” and “be wrong as fast as you can.”


Just how many times have we let a failing employee bog us down? How many times have we let a program drag on and on, hoping for success but knowing in our collective guts that it was a nonstarter? But think about the bits of fairy dust that came from those failures, the couple of good ideas that came from a bad hire, the lessons learned, the new directions.


Remember these wise words – fail early and fail fast.



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