I have run many, many miles. I’ve had the injuries, experienced the chaff, my toenails have turned black and then fallen off. I have also experienced the exhilaration and confidence that comes from training hard and long. Marathons build confidence.
Yet, lately I’ve learned that it’s possible to achieve similar fitness levels, in much less time, through carefully organized interval training. Bursts of work, versus many long miles.
Apparently, it’s not the grueling hours, but the constant pushing on limits and stretching of competence levels (followed by “active recovery”) that leads to growth.
As a leader, I have also experienced the value of teaching and celebrating new skills intervals or “confidence bursts.”
Confidence Bursts During Times of Change
When leading large-scale change, some of the most important work involves giving people the confidence and competence to be successful. Even when people have the skills, if they don’t feel confident and excited about their ability to be successful in the new arena, they will be reluctant to try.
Leaders can build more confidence and competence on their teams by training them in intervals, or short confidence bursts.
The idea is to create a full court press on a given behavior during a finite period of time (usually one day) to prove what is possible at an individual and organizational level. Scaffold people with lots of extra attention, skill building, fun, recognition and celebration. The risk is low it’s just one day, it doesn’t feel like a big commitment to change. Once people experience success with the behavior, their confidence improves and the ceiling of what they perceive as possible moves a little higher.
Every time I have done this, the results have been head-turning and remarkable. The best part comes in the after-glow discussion if you (and we) can make this much magic on this day, why not every day?
How To Build Confidence In Bursts
- Pick one or two tangible skills to work on
- Schedule the “special day” and create anticipation
- Begin the day with energy and fun, make it feel like a holiday
- Set specific, measurable goals that can be achieved that day
- Hold training and focused skill building throughout the day
- Have your “experts” work side by side with those still learning
- Celebrate every little success in a big, public way
- Communicate specific success stories including the “how” behind them
- Celebrate and debrief at the end of the day on “what worked” differently on this day and what was learned
- Begin the next day with a reminder of key learnings
I find a few sets of these intervals (usually a month a part) in the context of a larger change management strategy can lead to remarkable and lasting change. I also know that the change has sunk in when the impact of such days begins to dwindle but the overall results stay up. The behaviors have become so frequent that the extrinsic motivation is no longer necessary. The value in the behaviors has become an inherent choice.
Change is a marathon. And sometimes, finding opportunities to train in intervals small bursts of confidence can be a good part of the plan.