The workplace, like the playing field in sports, is packed with competition — often against oneself. It demands being at your best, reaching and exceeding goals, working hard to master all aspects of a position, and proving you’re capable of taking on more.
Someone might have all the requisite skills to succeed, but they also might become their own biggest obstacle when self-criticism gets in the way, corporate observers say. Confidence becomes a problem when difficult experiences at work, such as making mistakes or being passed over for an opportunity, cause us to question ourselves and create negative thoughts.
To produce positive thoughts and smooth the path toward success, one needs to create a mindset based on processes that are purposeful, says Grant Parr (www.gameperformance.com), a mental sports performance coach and author of The Next One Up Mindset: How To Prepare For The Unknown.
“The mind can get lonely and focus on negative things,” says Parr. “We risk giving our attention to thoughts that can eat away at us, destroy our confidence, and take us out of our rhythm.
“We begin to listen to a cartoon version of the devil who sits on one shoulder and whispers in our ear. So we need to develop ways to listen to that other voice within us, that angel on the opposite shoulder, to quiet the inner critic.”
Parr suggests a five-step process to develop a more positive mindset and boost your confidence in the workplace:
Focus on winning in the present. Dwelling on past mistakes or worrying about what comes next can create self-doubt. Staying present is key and requires resiliency, which leans on past training and the skills that led to achievements. Parr likens a resilient worker with athletes such as a placekicker, who shakes off a missed field goal and comes back to make the game-winner. “The workplace setting doesn’t wait for you to get over things,” Parr says. “And rather than fearing making more mistakes, you must ask yourself, ‘What’s important now?’ To be the best you can be in the current moment, you have to focus all of your energy on the present and embrace it.”
Breathe to relax and refocus. “Refocusing always starts with your breath,” Parr says. “It casts out distractions and allows you to be yourself. Focusing on your breathing reminds you that this is something you can control, and in turn you can control your thoughts. Ultimately, you’re training your subconscious mind how to use breath to settle you.”
Meditate. “Meditation builds off your controlled, sustained breathing,” Parr says, “and it becomes a practice to develop clarity and create a calm space in the mind. Meditation brings control and harnesses much of the untapped power of the mind. It aligns your mind, body, and spirit.”
Visualize. To reach peak performance, Parr says, people must be able to see themselves performing well. “The more precisely you can see yourself in action, the more you are able to adjust and control that image, change its details, and guide its outcome,” Parr says. “Visualization also entails tapping into an emotion, feeling the confidence of the moment that you see yourself making happen.”
Engage in self-talk. “Learn to become your own best motivator,” Parr says. “You can do this through the power of positive language directed at the self. We want to develop a language that creates purposeful optimism. Find specific language that can give voice to your feelings and enhance your internal drive.”
“Training the mind to generate confidence, qualm fear and spark joy empowers someone to be better than their negative side thought they could be,” Parr says.
About Grant Parr
Grant Parr is a mental sports performance coach and the author of The Next One Up Mindset: How To Prepare For The Unknown. Parr owns and runs a consulting firm that enhances mental skills for athletes and coaches. A recruiter and sales leader in the corporate world for 17 years, he now works with a wide variety of athletes including Olympians, professionals, collegians and high school athletes. His podcast, 90% Mental, provides a window into a broad range of athletes’ and coaches’ mental games and shares their insights around mental performance.