‘Self-reliance, self-trust, and individualism, amongst other things, are ways that we can avoid the conformity imposed upon us. Or, that we quite frequently impose upon ourselves’.

(‘Self-Reliance’ 1841 essay from US philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson)

In our #beyourselfatwork Global Survey, 100% of people share that they use being given autonomy as a strategy for having confidence at work.  And yet our research proves that many of us lack trust in ourselves, mould and conform to fit and tend to underestimate what we are capable of.

The BBC this week shared an interview with Greg Jackson, the founder and CEO of Octopus Energy, a UK start-up valued at more than £1.4bn ($2bn), selling green energy. Despite having more than 1,200 employees, he says he has no interest in traditional things like human resources (HR) and information technology (IT) departments.  His distaste for “command and control”, top-down management structures is born of experience, he says. Running smaller companies of around five people he would learn to cover HR and IT issues himself.  In other words, his perception is that people should be more reliant on themselves than others, self resilience as a tactic in culture…interesting!

According to Catherine Moore, writing in positivespychology.com, there are three signs of self-reliance;

  1. The ability to think independently.
  2. The embracing of your individuality.
  3. Bravery – striving towards your own goals.

She shares tips on how to boost your self-reliance which include accepting yourself, being your own best friend, making your own decisions, knowing your values and not relying on ‘things’ to feel happiness.  Her words are ‘Decide who you want to be, and how you want to get there’.  Love it!

Self reliance makes you strong.  Challenge yourself on your self-reliance, do you?

  • Rely on being valued by others?
  • Over think and be extra critical about yourself in your inner voice?
  • Seek recognition?
  • Look for signs that you are trusted?
  • Worry at times what others think of you?

All of these factors are also indicators of a lack of self-confidence.  Self-reliance doesn’t mean that you never ask for help or collaborate and become an island!  It quite simply allows you permission and freedom to be, live and work as an experience of being you.  Where you bring your full self to bear.

180 years ago, Emerson nailed it and challenged how much we conform and how much of this is self-imposed and yet 180 years on are we really more self-reliant?

Here are some tips for building self-reliance;

  1. Don’t distract yourself from you, spend time in your inner world. Listen, explore.
  2. Occasionally do what you would normally do with others alone, eating a meal, walking, shopping.
  3. Plan a prolonged time by yourself, a weekend, a day, a week.
  4. Talk to yourself, every day practice a conscious, positive self dialogue.
  5. Use phrases like, ‘my opinion is’ to help you to have the confidence to share your opinion whilst removing the pressure to be right. Consciously decide to not sit on the fence.
  6. Don’t always put everyone else first. Balance supporting those around you with your own needs.
  7. Enjoy your own company.

Be you.