Confidence allows us to tackle the challenges, obstacles, and tasks we face in our everyday lives, and yet for something so essential many of us struggle with it. I think this comes from both a misunderstanding about where confidence comes from and not knowing how to develop and harness confidence for maximum benefit. Luckily for you, I’m here to save the day. I’m a true hero. Also, there’s a free download at the end.
People often tell me that I come across and confident and outspoken but the truth is that I am definitely not always sure about myself. No one is! I am not always confident, either, because again: no one is! I get scared and unsure of myself all the time but I don’t let that control me. I forge on. This is because I have a solid foundation of confidence that I can utilise when I’m feeling unsure.
Basically, the key is not to aim to live in some utopian state of constant confidence but to learn how to face confidence-shaking challenges with confidence. You know, fight fire with fire. Confidence with confidence.
Now, these aren’t those “LOVE YOURSELF” mantras where the advice is just to BELIEVE IN YOURSELF by bolstering your self-esteem through self-absorption. That kind of advice can be nice for a Sunday afternoon of bath taking and films in bed, but at the end of the day it really is just fluff.
This fluffy approach is not solid. It is a low return on investment because you are spending all that time (and possibly money) for fleeting feel-good moments. Your time is precious and when it comes to self-improvement you shouldn’t rely too much on these low return on investment methods to serve as a basis for your future.
So my tips are are real, actionable, and free things you can do right now to start building a solid foundation of confidence. They are high return on investment because they are really tiny changes that can have a massive, life-long impact on your relationships, career, and achievements.
01 / Stop saying “I don’t know” and “I’m sorry”
Many women have a habit of padding out their communications with apologies and softeners. We do it without realising, starting sentences by saying “I don’t know, but…” right before diving into discussing something we do know, or prefacing an explanation with “sorry”, as though we must apologise for speaking.
“I’m sorry but that’s just how I see it.” “I don’t know but I’m pretty sure milk comes from cows.”
Stop doing that.
Try: “Anyway, that’s how I see it. What do you think?” “Milk comes from cows.”
If you’re writing casual responses online, start editing out all the apologies. You do know. You are not sorry. Be sure of yourself. Even if you later change your opinion or find out you were straight up wrong you still need to be able to confidently and unapologetically assert your point of view.
Future benefits: You will be able to communicate concisely and confidently in any setting, be it personal or professional, in a way that will have you taken seriously and respected.
02 / Share Something You’ve Done or Created
You know that thing that you keep on the down-low because you know it’s not perfect and the idea of sharing something not-completely-perfect breaks you out in a nervous sweat?
Share it. Share the thing.
Send it to your friends, your family, your social media followers, e-mail it to me, whoever. Just share it. You will be amazed at how just one word of encouragement can dispel a huge chunk of your anxieties and replace it with solid confidence.
If you need a pep talk, my post “To All The Creative Perfectionists” will help you.
Future benefits: You will become familiar with the process of sharing even when you’re nervous, this will benefit you both personally and professionally as you will be practiced at asserting your ideas and creations with confidence and grace.
03 / Strike a Power Pose
I’ve already linked to Amy Cuddy’s TED talk about body language, so hopefully you already know this one. Standing with your hands on your hips and your legs slightly apart (the Wonder Woman stance) raises your testosterone and reduces your cortisol (stress) levels, giving you an instant boost of calm confidence.
Future benefits: Excellent for use before speeches, presentations, job interviews, meetings, first dates, anything. It is the most useful thing you will ever start doing for yourself.
04 / Understand that a Crisis of Confidence = An Action Plan
Chances are, your lack of confidence will be about something quite specific. You’re afraid you’re not good enough. Maybe you are actually good enough or maybe you aren’t, but I believe you can never be too skilled, so this “not good enough” feeling is actually an action plan.
If you think you aren’t good enough, GET GOOD ENOUGH. Build your skills. Learn how to get good. There is no reason why you can’t. This is your only option unless you want to sit around feeling bad about yourself forever.
Future benefits: You will become a calm problem solver who understands how to turn negatives into positives, benefiting you both personally and professionally. In particular, it will help you become a great leader.