A Confidence Workout

I am confident I have become a COVID cliché. I planted a veggie garden, baked sourdough bread with a 200-year-old starter and joined the Peloton® craze. And, while I knew I would build running stamina, I didn’t know downloading the free Peloton® app would also build my confidence. After logging hours of classes with Matt Wilpers, Robin Arzón and Chase Tucker, I realized the same coaching tips that apply to mind over matter in your athletic performance also apply to mind over matter in your performance at work. The JS Coaching Team has been teaching confidence for years, but thinking about confidence as an athletic performance was a new lens for me as a communications coach. The mind-body connection to confidence is well-researched and documented, and, in one of the most-viewed TED Talks, social psychologist Amy Cuddy speaks about the power of body language in shaping your inner and outer confidence.

Here are the top eight tips I’ve captured while logging miles on the treadmill:

  1. Adapt to the hill because the hill will not adapt to you. A runner might struggle up a hill, huffing and puffing and letting their form fail them. Once you lose form, you lose function. Looking ahead to a new challenge at work, do you maintain your form and function? Confidence is a state of mind. You aren’t born with it; you build it over time through trying and failing and trying and failing and meeting new challenges head-on. If we cannot adapt to new challenges — just like pushing ourselves up the hill we thought we could not climb — we cannot build confidence.
  2. We are always a work in progress. Just because you cannot do it today does not mean you cannot do it ever. Your confidence is ever-evolving — sometimes high and sometimes low — just like good run days and bad run days. But you must show up for yourself each and every time to make progress.
  3. Celebrate the small wins. So often we overlook the small, daily triumphs. Peloton® coaches talk about how just showing up is enough. It is so easy to be disappointed that we have not run that race yet or aren’t capable of doing it yet that we forget how small wins lead to big wins. Celebrate the small wins at work too.
  4. The only person with whom you’re competing is yourself, so walk your own walk and run your own run. If we constantly look around the room and think that those across the table are better than us, we have lost before we started.
  5. Learn how to handle discomfort. If succeeding were easy, everyone would just do it. How many times have you turned down a new opportunity because it felt too big or too challenging? Were you afraid to fail? Without new challenges that are seriously uncomfortable, you cannot build the confidence muscle. Get yourself out of your comfort zone and get used to being uncomfortable. The work doesn’t get easier, but your appetite and tolerance for challenge gets stronger.
  6. Eliminate the phrase, “I am not a runner, but …” Oh how many times I have told myself that phrase, and apparently so many of us do. It is a way to dismiss ourselves. I think to myself, “I didn’t run well because I am not really a runner.” Well that doesn’t seem very confident, does it? What do you say to yourself that is self-defeating? These are called negative automatic thoughts or NATs. Dismiss those and claim who you are!
  7. Progress not perfection. So many of us don’t want to do something for fear of failure or fear we will not do it as perfectly as we believe we should. Let’s just call this what it is – perfection paralysis. Celebrate progress and forget perfection. Not every day can be your best day – turn it into a win for the next day. 
  8. Be forgiving and kind to yourself. We all make mistakes at work and in our lives. How quickly do you recover? Mental resilience, bouncing back when we falter and forgiving ourselves build healthy confidence. For some, this comes more naturally than for others. If Peloton® ever offers a “self-forgiveness” class, sign me up!

Peloton® celebrates all milestones — “first run!” “100th ride!” “1st Broadway class!” badges of honor populate the app along the way. Similarly, let’s be sure to always celebrate our confidence milestones big and small. As Robin Arzón says, “Yes you can. Yes, you are.”

Please note that Jackson Spalding is in no way affiliated with Peloton Interactive, Inc.