There’s an easy test you can take that will tell you whether your venture or project will fail. It’s very simple. All you have to do is ask yourself whether you believe you can do it. If there’s any hesitation in your answer, it’s unlikely you’ll make it. Occasionally questioning your strategy is fine, but to succeed in any venture you have to believe that you have the talent to make it work. You have to believe in yourself.
There’s been a lot of research over the years into what builds that self confidence. Not all of it has been shown to be reliable but four actions have consistently stood out.
The idea that you should dress for the role you want is an old one but it’s a concept backed by science. Psychologists call it “enclothed cognition.” In one study, researchers found that when subjects wore a white lab coat that they associated with being a doctor, they showed increased attentiveness, care and attention to detail. The same results weren’t found when the subjects wore a similar painter’s coat.
It’s all about the association. Dress the part, and you’ll act the part.
In the book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, by Carol S. Dweck she describes setting tasks to see how children coped with failure. The first tasks were easy but as the tasks grew harder, Dweck noticed something she didn’t expect. Instead of becoming frustrated, the children became more determined and focused. They took those challenges as learning opportunities and as chances to grow. For Dweck, it was an entirely new mindset, one that saw ability not as something fixed but as something that can be improved and built on through learning, testing and accomplishment.
Know where you struggle and while you might expect occasional fails, you won’t let them hold you back. You’ll embrace them as opportunities to learn and move your abilities forward.
In 2003, a study at Florida State University took a look at 15,000 studies into self-esteem theory. It found that only 200 of those studies were up to scientific standards and none of them showed that high self esteem produces high results. In fact, it found that boosting self esteem alone can actually harm career advancement. Instead of telling people where they need to improve, it lets them believe that they’re good enough and that the world needs to improve.
It’s one thing to believe that you do have what it takes to succeed, but the secret of success isn’t to rely on self confidence. It’s to sharpen the skills that give you that confidence.
If you’ve ever watched professional tennis players, you’ll have seen how they bounce the ball before they serve or jump up and down before they receive the ball. Those aren’t just tools for focus; they’re rituals that build confidence and put the players at ease. Research demonstrates that with rituals, people become calmer and more confident and, importantly, they improve performance.
That ritual morning coffee and meditation might be just what you need to feel in control of your workspace.