I recently asked the international listeners of my daily one minute audio program The Morris Code a single question, which was “thinking about the last few days you’ve been at work, which of these skills / mindsets would you like to improve to be more successful in your job.” There were nine possible responses on things such as “feeling less stressed”, “feeling more motivated throughout the whole day” and “better communication with internal or external clients.” The survey allowed one answer per person.

There were two clear “winners” with the exact same number of responses. The first was “being consistently productive through the day and/or week” and “being confident in my actions such as being decisive, more sure with problem-solving, etc”.

This comes as no surprise to me.

We know from the research on self-determination and work-related motivation that people want to feel and experience three main things:

  • Be able to make their own decisions, and make them well (autonomy)
  • Be good at what they do, and have opportunities to be better (mastery)
  • And derive a sense of meaning by doing so (purpose)

Feeling confident and being consistent in work are integral parts of all three aspects of motivation, and particularly autonomy and mastery.

What is particularly interesting is how these two things – confidence and consistency – are actually linked to each other. In other words …

  • To become more confident, behave more consistently (even if you haven’t mastered the task yet); and
  • To behave more consistently, build your confidence generally (by deciding for yourself and taking responsibility for what you do)

You’ll notice that previously I put the word “winners” in quotation marks. I am not surprised that people want to increase both their consistency and their confidence, but that these had the highest number of responses is unfortunate. It shows that many people do not feel as confident as they would like and are not being as consistently productive as they want. That is by no means “winning”.

However, it is possible to change that pattern, and change it quickly:-

1.      Choose to focus on one task at a time and, even if you are not doing it well, do it and then do it again. In time, you will become more proficient. Avoiding it simply deteriorates your confidence.

2.      Stop blaming others – colleagues, the boss, the economy, the weather – and take more responsibility for your own actions and results.

Of course there are other ways to be more confident and consistent, but these suggestions are something you can actually begin today, right now.

Being confident creates consistent productivity and consistent productivity builds confidence.

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