“I have the most confidence when I am well-rested.”
That was the comment from a senior leader in my influence workshop yesterday. Influence is a critical leadership competency and every leader who influences must do so with confidence. Harvard Business School professor, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, in her book of the same name says “confidence consists of positive expectations for favourable outcomes.”
When we show confidence and self-assurance the people we lead come to trust the actions we take on their behalf and on behalf of the organisation and institutions in which we lead. Those actions, in turn, help lead to the achievement of desired goals.
Whether you recognise it or not, we all need confidence boosters, because the systems in which we work and lead, can provide plenty of confidence busters that can deflate our sense of self. From “demoters” and “dingers” who try to tear down our ideas to highlight their own, to co-workers who interrupt us and overlook our contributions, confidence busters can shut us down and cause us to withdraw. Confidence boosters, however, are those things or people or circumstances that buoy our level of self-assurance at work and give us that internal sense that we have what it takes to face a given task. Confidence-boosters help us stay engaged, take initiative, and offer ideas and opinions that benefit everyone.
For many people, for instance, a confidence booster is the ability to recall past successes and to apply those skills and lessons from that past success to a current challenging situation. The belief that “I’ve won before at this game, I can do it again” actually buoys our spirits and motivates us to face the challenge with optimism or a “can do attitude.”
For others, framing actions in terms of purpose and meaning boosts confidence. Purposeful leaders maintain a strong conviction that our decisions and actions have significance. These leaders hold a positive expectation that we are making a difference in the lives of the people with whom we work or for whom we provide a service.
So how might rest boost our confidence?
That business leader went on to explain, that when she is the most rested, when she has adequately cared for herself, she can quite confidently move through her day and face the many challenges with assurance she is putting her best self forward.
As I thought more and more about this leader’s comment, I thought that perhaps confidence is not so much a feeling, but a mindset, a way of thinking, and rest enhances our thinking!
Then I realised four things rest, and self-care, in general, do for us that are quite confidence boosting.
Rest enhances clarity of thought. When we are rested, we tend to be more clear-headed and can more calmly maintain positive expectations. Tired, overworked people just don’t have the capacity to ward off the internal worrier.
Rest improves concentration. A lack of focus can undermine any activity you are engaged in, causing you to be a little less assured about your contribution to the task at hand. For example, the lack of concentration increases the tendency for you to miss information in meetings, especially nuanced information. So much of what we do as actual or aspiring leaders hinges upon the ability to decipher political codes of the organization.
Rest helps improve memory. I don’t know about you, but I have experienced my confidence bubble inflate when I have recalled specifics of conversations and meeting agreements that others have forgotten or not noted. And I’ve also felt the frustration of being so overworked, meeting untenable demands and deadlines that I have forgotten some very basics of my craft. Regardless of the narrative I’ve told myself about why it happened, it didn’t make me feel very good about my work. It didn’t deflate my sense of self, per se, but it did deflate my confidence in moving forward the same way I had been operating.
Rest improves decision-making. Many studies show that sleep deprivation can lessen decision-making effectiveness. It goes to reason then that getting adequate rest coupled with being able to make quality decisions in the first place will enhance your outcomes.
I am reminded of the last time I took a caffeine supplement in college to pull an all-nighter for a physics final exam. When I got to the exam I was so exhausted, I couldn’t recall any of the information that I had crammed into my head. I learned then that my “unrested” brain did not test well! To this day I know that a tired mind is not effective.
So, thanks to my seminar participant for reminding us all that rest can indeed, not only be a tool for facing challenges, but it can also serve as a booster to enhance our ability to navigate our work world with confidence and assurance.