Around two months ago I found myself in a predicament. Quite by accident my husband and I had stumbled upon a fast flowing river with a wire rope bridge across it. It was snowing, as often happens in Scotland, but across this river was an impressive waterfall which we were keen to see. My husband set off across the river and soon after my dog decided to swim across too. So I was faced with a decision, to go or not to go. I went. Halfway across I nearly turned back, I kept imagining myself slipping and falling, fully clothed with weak swimming skills. When I reach the other side I had to sit down and catch my breath after a big hit of adrenalin.

It was worth it, both for the view and the reminder that I hadn’t been pushed out of my comfort zone for a long while. I could barely remember the last time I had felt physically and mentally challenged in that way. My husband was surprised at my dip in confidence, hearing me say ‘I can’t’ is not something he’s used to.

This experience made me realise that confidence, like fitness, is something that needs to be maintained. Confidence is quite fickle, in one context you could be feeling very confident and therefore strong. Then your situation might change and your confidence could dip, making you feel weaker and under prepared. Imagine being asked to present informally to a team of 5 people you know well, only to be told minutes before you’re due to speak that you’ll be on a stage with an audience of 100 people. You need a strong foundation of confidence to rise to the challenge.

Confidence is important and it touches our professional and personal activities. In fact feeling under confident in your personal life can very easily affect your confidence in a professional setting and vice versa.

In the digital sphere building confidence is critical to success. The goal posts are always changing and your staff and your business need to have the confidence to change tack or adapt.

  • A good level of digital confidence will enable you to:
  • Strengthen collaboration between teams and individuals
  • Streamline internal processes to create more efficient ways of working
  • Empower teams to succeed by using digital solutions to their fullest potential
  • Strengthen relationships with customers and your audience
  • Increase the visibility of your organisation and the reach of your service and/or product
  • Create new business opportunities by demonstrating different and innovative ways of working
  • Remain competitive in a fast paced environment

Most importantly make sure your digital solutions and technology are working for you, instead of against you. This will enable your digital confidence to flourish.

If it’s difficult to know where to start in building your digital skills, a good place to begin is to ask yourself and your staff:

  1. What are the biggest challenges and how could these be overcome?
  2. What areas of your business activities and approach might benefit from improvements?
  3. What skill are important to achieving goals and how can these skills be strengthened?

It is likely that in answering these questions you’ll touch on both digital and non-digital issues. Therefore building confidence becomes a holistic exercise. In this way hopefully digital solutions and technology empower staff to achieve better results and explore new ways of doing things, increasing their overall confidence in the process.

So how to ensure you’re always prepared to cross the bridge (physical or digital) without experiencing ‘the fear’? Following the bridge situation I decided to make sure I continue to maintain and grow my physical and mental confidence. This led to my first bungee jump, extreme but a good boost. I’ll be focusing on smaller, but equally as important, goals for the next few months.

Building and maintaining your confidence is as much about small steps as it is about big challenges – from building your fitness day by day so that you can make it through a 10 mile run to growing your skill set in small doses so you can adapt to new technology and different ways of doing things. It all helps to keep your confidence sharp, and be match fit on whatever playing field you find yourself on.

Some further reading:

The Confidence Gap (The Atlantic. 2014)

Why self confidence is crucial for success (Huffington Post, 2016)

Why we should be playing our part to achieve digital confidence (Guardian, 2013)

Three skills that will give you more confidence in tech (Levo, 2016)