Brene Brown, research professor at the University of Houston, introduced the term “grounded confidence” in her podcast Dare to Lead and discusses it in her book Atlas of the Heart. It’s one of three skills she says are required to create meaningful connection with one another. This contradicts what many of us associate with confidence, which might be arrogance and disconnection.
The core lesson with grounded confidence is that it’s not fear that gets in our way of courage - fear is expected and necessary. It’s how we self-protect when we feel uncertain or fearful.
We create armour, and that armouring behaviour keeps us from showing up in ways that are aligned with our values, whether that’s personal values or business values.
As we learn to recognize and remove our armor, we replace it with grounded confidence.
“Developing grounded confidence is driven by a commitment to learning and improving. Its near enemy [states that appear similar to the desired quality but actually undermine it] is knowing and proving. In our culture, we’re quick to mistake knowing and proving for confidence, when they’re actually a function of low self-worth. Fragile self-worth is the far enemy [the opposite of what we’re trying to achieve] of grounded confidence. A fragile self-worth drives us to protect at all costs.”
Brene has seven practices we can work on to shed the armour and develop grounded confidence:
1. Develop and apply language for experience and emotion
2. Practice courage
3. Rumble with vulnerability
4. Stay curious
5. Practice humility
6. Commit to mastery and practice
7. Feel embodied and connected to self
These sound lovely, but how do we put them into practice? How do we remember to do these things when we, say, walk into a meeting and feel completely unprepared or get the overwhelming sense we don’t know what we’re doing?
I created a flow chart that breaks each of the seven practices down into actionable habits. You can download it here.
I suggest focusing on one or two habits that are either low hanging fruit or big log jams (where even small improvements will have big impacts everywhere). Feel free to add your own habits that are specific to your situation. The point is to focus and commit to the action and do it every single day, so that you’re literally working on this the way you’d work on improving a sport.
Gamify it and make it fun.
Let me know how it goes!