Nobody likes to fail, when you do it’s not a nice feeling and when you fail in public you feel twice as bad. It can shake your confidence and questions your self-belief. But High Performing Teams create self-belief in one another, which is a topic that really interests me.
There have been many articles written about failure and how it teaches us resilience to try again and ultimately succeed. That’s the theory anyway. But regular setbacks will ebb away your self-confidence and it’s not easy to keep going. We are naturally born with self-belief and yet many of us lose it at times. Ironically when we start school is when we begin to have doubts about our self-confidence for the first time.
Self-belief is a fragile thing and needs to be nourished both internally and externally. Recently while I was facilitating a strategic planning and team building event in Dublin with a team from Pfizer I got a chance to test my own self-belief and the opportunity to see at first hand how a High Performing teams create self-belief in each other.
To help with team bonding and to get people to challenge themselves we invited Stephen from Firewalkinghq to come along and organise a number of events. Fire walking wasn’t an option due to the venue, but the alternative events were still challenging. The first event was learning to walk on broken glass, which woke everyone up that morning but everyone participated and very few toes were lost…….
The second event was bar bending, where two people face each other supporting either end of a steel bar resting on their throats. Together with your partner you have to walk towards each other while bending the bar with your throat. It’s a great exercise for building trust. Everybody completed the exercises and no windpipes were damaged. But I did notice the pitch of my voice was a little higher for the rest of the day.
The final exercise was board breaking . To many of us this seemed very straight forward and after years of watching Kung Fu movies I was quietly confident. However Stephen did tell us that not everyone would break the board. Belief and technique are far more important than strength. I wasn’t fazed I was confident that my technique was good and that I’d break the board. But when my turn came the board didn’t break.
My wrist was hurting but not as much as my pride. I had to wait 10 minutes before I could make another attempt. For the next 10 minutes all I could think about is how could this happen to me, total victim mindset . As I walked up to Stephen for my second attempt I was feeling nervous and felt everyone was embarrassed for me. But then one of the team shouted, “ go on Aidan you can do it”, and as I was preparing my breathing and the technique that Stephen had taught us I began to feel a calmness and sense of belief coming from the team standing around me willing me to succeed. I was far more focused than my first attempt and time seemed to slow. The board broke and I didn’t even remember striking it. I felt great but mainly I felt relief.
Afterwards reflecting on the experience I definitely learned more having failed with my initial attempt. I was more focused and realizing that everyone wanted me to succeed rather than thinking they were embarrassed for me totally changed my mindset and increased my self-confidence. I was witnessing how a High Performing team create self-belief.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could always have that sense of self-belief that comes from those around you, even when you initially fail. Leaders who build that sense of trust and belief in their teams create a team environment that are constantly pushing itself to be better, taking the chance that they may fail but never losing that sense of belief in one another. That’s the team I want to be a part of.
My philosophy as a coach is to help teams build that sense of belief in themselves and each other to create a high performing team. Constantly challenging each other to improve, are not afraid to take risks and when they fail, they learn from the experience, find that sense of belief in each other again and go again.
I confirmed to myself that self-belief is fragile but when your team & leader believe in you, your mindset changes and you are filled with self-belief once more.
I would love to hear from others on their experiences of working with teams that cultivate self-belief in each other.