Part of the series “Living and Working Better”
When I got laid off from my VP role in the days following 9/11, I have to say that I felt totally crushed and devastated, even though I didn’t like my job and didn’t want to stay. It’s a crazy phenomenon – that even though you’re given exactly what you’ve been longing for (not to work at that company any longer), you still feel like it’s the end of the world, because of how it’s given to you. Being told that you’re not needed, wanted or deemed important to the organization can crush your spirit and obliterate your confidence. I’ve witnessed this in countless clients – this sentiment:
“My confidence is simply gone. I don’t know how to talk about myself, my accomplishments or even what I do well, now that I’ve been let go.”
While this experience or others like it takes some time to overcome, I’ve found there are 5 powerful ways you can dramatically boost your confidence, starting today.
Step Back And Remeber Who You Were Before This
We humans tend to see only what’s at the tip of our noses. A toxic job, a terrible boss who’s out to get us, a career that devalues us, a relationship that’s demeaning – once we’re in it, we lose sight of who we are and who we were – bright, committed, talented, gifted, contributive, and deserving of being highly cherished and valued. If you’ve had a crushing experience like a lay-off or being fired or demeaned, pull the viewfinder back and take a look at the long arch of your life so far. Remember what you’re great at, what you’ve achieved and stood for and accomplished, and get going reviving your connection to the power of who you are, authentically.
Connect With People Who Adore You
I remember, back in my 20’s, I was laid off from a newly created position at Random House that turned out to be a terrible fit for my skills. Before the 3-month evaluation period was up, my two bosses let me go, confirming that the role they created wasn’t the best for me, or for their department. I was shocked and saddened, yet I remember just a few weeks before, I was sitting in the office at 8pm on the night of my birthday, stuffing boring marketing flyers into envelopes, thinking “OMG, is this really my job now?” But having to admit to anyone else (except my boyfriend) that I’d been let go was just too humiliating. But when I reached back out the recruiter who placed me there, she said, “Kathy, don’t worry. This happens to the best of us. Pick yourself up and come see me tomorrow, and we’ll find you a role that fits!” Those consoling words changed everything for me.
Almost everyone in the world has at least a few supporters, advocates and staunch fans who sing your praises to the moon, and think the world of your talents. After a crushing blow, don’t wait – get back in touch with all those people who think the sun rises and sets on you. Friends, former bosses, colleagues, professors – any and all people in your life who know what you’re capable of and see your amazing potential. Tell them what you’re going through, and ask for their support. Open up, be vulnerable and share how you really feel, and allow them to help you pick yourself up by the bootstraps and get moving toward something you’ll love again.
Make A Fearless Inventory Of What You Have To Offer
Many of the people who’ve had a terrible blow (professional or otherwise) are also folks who’ve not engaged in networking or building their digital profile or personal brand for years. They’ve been way out of touch, out of sight, and out of mind, basically invisible to thousands of former friends, colleagues and potential employers and collaborators. It’s time to change that. Spend a weekend (perhaps this one?), writing down all the jobs you’ve ever held, from age 18 onward, and examine what you loved, hated, never want to do again, and would love to bring forward in a deeper way, in the next chapter of life and work.
Detail out exactly what values you’ve supported, and the functions, roles, achievements, and contributions you delivered. Determine the ones you are most proud of and would like to leverage going forward. Then, build your LinkedIn profile sharing the highest version of yourself. Start talking about yourself in a very positive way (even though your ego still feels bruised), and share with others exactly what you have to offer that could contribute to the world in a meaningful way.
Understand How You May Have Co-Created The Devastating Blow You Experienced
As a therapist and a coach, I’ve seen that people feel most sad, sick and depressed when they feel powerless – when they believe they have no control over what happens to them, and they’re a hapless victim of harsh, cruel circumstances. In my own life, I’ve experienced that feeling too. But I see things differently now. I see clearly how we all co-contribute and shape what happens to us. We’re not hapless victims – we’re powerful co-creators, of our jobs, relationships, experiences, and events in our lives.
Take control of your situation and understand your role in what’s happening. Look at how you treated your boss that led to you getting fired. Examine how you withheld consideration or respect in your work relationship that turned toxic. Open your eyes to how you didn’t take a leadership stand when you were given the chance, and that’s what led to someone else being promoted over you.
I’m not saying you’re to blame. I’m saying that you had more of a hand in what’s coming your way than you might have suspected. Change your perspective and gain greater awareness of the fact that your future will not just be a repeat of your past, once you shift how you operate in the world.
Ask People To Share — In Writing — What They Appreciate And Admire About You
Finally, this may seem like a small point, but it’s been a total game-changer for me and others I work with. Reach out to the 30 colleagues you’ve loved and admired the most in your life, who admire you back, and ask them to write an endorsement on LinkedIn for you. You’ll be amazed at what these testimonials do for your confidence.
Here’s an example: After my layoff as a VP, when I looked back at my role, I was stuck in remembering all the times that I wasn’t a great leader, and it really hurt me. But out of the blue, I received an endorsement from a lovely young woman who wasn’t in my department, but still had glowing things to say about my leadership and what I gave to her during my time there. That one, simple endorsement helped me completely turn around the way I was thinking about myself and my contributions there (and what I’m capable of). That one little quote helped me see that I wasn’t a failure at all.
Here’s some sample language you can use as a start to ask for an endorsement:
Hello! It’s been a long time! I’ve so enjoyed watching your success at ___, and reading about all your latest developments. Kudos to you.
At this time, I’m at a new, exciting juncture in my career, and I’m focusing on building my LinkedIn profile to a higher level, and I wondered if I could ask you a favor? I so enjoyed working with you last year, and I was hoping you might be open to sharing a few positive words about the work we did together, and how you experienced me and our collaboration, and any positive outcomes from it?
I’m looking to expand my work and contributions in the content areas of _______, _____, ______ so any comments about those in particular would be so helpful.
I’m grateful for your help! And I’m happy to do the same for you. In fact, I just wrote a testimonial for you and submitted it for your approval. I hope you like it!
Thank you again for your help, and let’s catch up soon.
Take these five steps, and I promise that you’ll start to feel your confidence and energy revive and restore, and you’ll begin to remember who you really are, and why that matters in the world.
More Info: forbes.com