Monday, March 17, 2008

Getting Out of a Slump

How do you get out of a slump?  A common cause of getting in a slump is low confidence.  Getting out of the slump involves stop focusing on what can go wrong, focus on what to do right, and take action.   In Overachievement: The New Model for Exceptional Performance, John Eliot, Ph.D., writes about getting out of a slump.

The Real Problem is Low Confidence
According to Eliot, low-confidence is a common cause of slumps: 

Clients come to me with all sorts of problems.  They're in a "slump," they're choking under pressure, they're not performing as well as they ought to or want to.  Often, their real problem is low-confidence.  Long before they make an important sales call or meet with their boss or the board, they begin thinking about what might go astray, and end up doubting their ability.  They actually are rehearsing potential disasters rather than programming their heads for success and developing confident solutions to roadblocks.

Focus on the Steps and Why They're Good Ones
Eliot writes that you need to change your focus:

I'm often amazed at how quickly people forget what got them where they are in the first place.  The person who is frozen with anxiety over meeting with the board to discuss the financial condition of the company has managed to ignore the simplest fact of the situation: He's being called in to solve a problem, to help move the company forward, to give knowledge or defend viable strategic moves.  Instead of thinking about how he might screw up, he ought to be focusing on the steps he's going to take and why they're good ones.

Action is the Fundamental Aspect of Confidence
According to Eliot, action is a cornerstone of confidence:

Lynn Katen already knew more about regulations around the country than anyone else at the bank.  Once she started acting on that fact, her confidence grew, and so did the bank's confidence in her.  This underscores what I think is a fundamental aspect of confidence: Action.

Key Take Aways
Here's my key take aways:

  • Low-confidence is a common cause of slumps.
  • Action helps restore confidence.
  • Focus on the right steps over focusing on what can go wrong.

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james said...

can the problem of low confidence also lead to depression?

J.D. Meier said...

Based on the book Feeling Good, yes. On a very practical level, we all like to feel successful. When people on my team get down on themselves, I tell them to make a list each day of what they learned or did well. This shifts the focus from whatever they feel stuck on and it's more balanced. This simple listing technique builds momentum and helps defeat low confidence. This is particularly helpful when you're learning something new. It's all too easy to focus on what you aren't doing well at the moment.