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How self-awareness creates inner resilience

It’s natural to experience some apprehension when going for interviews or starting a new role – but anxiety and feelings of self-doubt can be a bigger problem for some people.

In the latest of our series of Obelisk Support’s Move the Needle webinars, Lucinda Acland was joined by expert Liz Villani, Founder of Courageous Success, a global business helping people to be themselves at work and creator of the iAM personalised values tool. We discussed the findings of her recent research and she shared tips and practical advice about how to gain greater awareness of your personal values, and how this develops strong inner resilience and protects you against self-doubt.

Lawyers may be particularly prone to self-doubt


Liz told us that in recent survey of 450 senior managers, 91% had feelings of self-doubt, despite their success and the positive feedback they had experienced in the careers. She emphasised that lawyers may be particularly prone because they are trained to spot problems and this negative bias can then turn inwards into a harshly critical inner voice.

This can sometimes be made worse when working part-time or remotely, as often people gain security from the stability of familiar surroundings to feel comfortable with their competence and performance.

Common ways that self-doubt can affect people at work include:

  • Worrying about what other people are thinking and making unfavourable comparisons with others
  • Overthinking and questioning competence
  • Creating an uncomfortable workplace persona in order to fit in.

These responses create a negative cycle as confidence becomes further dependant on other’s approval and opinions.

The Courageous Success #beyourselfatwork Global Results study found that both men and women are susceptible to self-doubt, but in different ways.

Liz explains that when people hold themselves back, they end up reducing their influence and the difference they can make at work. By continually trying to conform and seeking approval from outside, they reduce their agency, and their confidence becomes dependent on the approval of others.

“91% had feelings of self-doubt, despite their success and positive feedback they had experienced in their careers”

Liz Villani

Founder, Courageous Success

The benefits of being yourself


By becoming more aware of who we really are, we can be less self-conscious and keep a sense of perspective, rather than automatically worrying about what others may be thinking. This gives us greater freedom to tap into our skills. This creates a virtuous circle, when we understand ourselves better and start to adopt our natural behaviour. We can communicate confidently and form better relationships by being more authentic to our true nature and values. Liz explains that by becoming more approachable this allows us to harness a more relaxed side to our personality, which allows us to become more creative in finding solutions.  As she says, “When people are themselves at work, their performance can be greatly enhanced”.

This ethos chimes with Obelisk’s #HumanFirst value and underscores our experience that our clients are seeking talented individuals to help them find legal solutions to their business needs.

Tap into your unique personal values


The good news from the research is that when people are themselves at work, their performance can be greatly enhanced, and they are more positive and happier generally.

Liz advises creating a picture of your own personal values by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What positive words describe the real me?
  • What are my character strengths as a person?
  • What positive words would my friends or those who know me best outside of work use about me?
  • When I am really in my zone at work, what aspect am I really loving?
  • When I am full of energy and feeling fantastic how do I behave?

How to conquer self-doubt in an interview


Meeting a new client for the first time can be especially stressful. Having created a clear picture of your personal values, you can use them when you have interviews and build them into your responses.

Liz recommends that you:

  • Really show a prospective client that you like them as a person, by speaking with energy and enthusiasm
  • Prepare a strong closing statement, such as how excited you are to have had the opportunity to meet and talk with the interviewer whether you are successful or not; leaving a strong last impression is even more important than a good first impression
  • Consider 10 positive words or phrases to describe you as a person, such as kind, warm, funny, helpful, adventurous, and three work-related, such as competent, quick thinking, analytic, to incorporate in your answers.

Remember, prospective clients want to know about you as a person, so bring your unique whole self to the meeting and they won’t forget you.

We hope these tips help you to bring your best self to work and build your confidence. For more advice from Liz, watch the full webinar here.


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