Returning to work in the New Year will have served as a reminder to many of us that we regularly face professional challenges and personal setbacks in our daily lives. More often than not, moments like these result in us experiencing worry and self-doubt, which negatively impact on our confidence.

Neuroscience shows the neurobiological mechanisms underpinning worry and self-doubt. In simple terms, when faced with a difficulty or disappointment, we experience varying degrees of the flight-or fight response, which triggers the release of certain hormones. It begins in the part of the brain we call the A.P.E, which processes information interpreted as threatening or problematic. The overall result is increased activation of the HPA axis. This keeps us alert and activated in the short term.

However, if left unchecked, these processes become unhelpful and can actually prevent us from using attributes we need to perform well in our working lives; such as concentration, confidence, focus and motivation. Science also shows that excessive cortisol production – released from the HPA axis – damages a part of the brain called the hippocampus, which is responsible for producing new brain cells, helping us to learn and manage stress.

It is clear that worrying too much and doubting ourselves is unhelpful to our short-term performance and long-term health and happiness. However, we can learn how to successfully manage our negative emotions and boost our confidence levels.

A lesson from the golden girl

Jessica Ennis-HillIn our new free eBook, “The Elite Business Athlete”, we use the example of Olympic and double World Heptathlon Champion Jessica Ennis-Hill to show how she used simple, practical mental process to overcome a major career setback, find her confidence and motivate herself to move on and be successful in a highly pressurised environment.

You can use the same principles to boost your own confidence levels.

The well-reported foot injury Ennis-Hill sustained in the lead up to the 2008 Olympics eventually prevented her competing in the Beijing Games and required her to use a different take-off foot in the Long Jump event for the rest of her career. For those of you who don’t know athletics, this is pretty much like asking somebody to change the hand they write with and become the world’s best calligraphist by the end of this year!

When faced with this huge challenge, Jessica Ennis-Hill no doubt experienced the kind of stress response we have already described, yet we all know that she found the confidence to continue her progress and has since been hugely successful in her chosen field.

Health, happiness and high-performance is built on good confidence and a concept that Tougher Minds uses to help people understand and manage this continuum is the “House of Confidence”. It helps us understand how to build and maintain effective confidence and the related attributes and emotions that help us perform well.

Staying motivated
Learning how to maintain confidence, focus and motivation in the face of professional challenges and setbacks is one of the key elements of our Tougher Minds Personal Change Management™ and Leadership programmes. We show how to develop mental skills including purposefully reappraising challenges so you stay on track and perform well in business and life.

You can learn more about this and more about our highly successful Personal Change Management™ and Leadership programmes, by downloading our our new eBook “The Elite Business Athlete”. To download it, click here.

If you feel Tougher Minds can help you or your organisation, or if you would like your organisation to benefit from our training programmes for business, please click here to contact us.

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