The secret to being more confident

Would you like to be more confident in life? Where would you be if you had more confidence?


When I ask this question very often people's responses are remarkably similar:

  • When I have confidence, I'll be better at public speaking...
  • When I have confidence, I’ll perform better in interviews...
  • When…. I will light up the room in meetings...
  • When… I will make friends more easily...
  • When... I will be better at dating...

The pattern is clear. I will be more successful at the things that are important to me when I have confidence. But therein lies the myth about confidence.  Confidence is not a thing. If you wait for it to turn up at your doorstep you'll be waiting a long time before you start to enjoy life.

So how do you ‘get’ confidence?

Most people see confidence as a thing, an object, something to own and possess. I often joke with my clients that if you want to get confidence then you just need to pop to your local supermarket. It’s aisle seven, halfway down, middle shelf, next to the tomato ketchup.  

Now, obviously they look at me in a strange way when I say this, but I say this to make an important point. Confidence is not a thing. It is a process. You have to earn the right to be confident at something.

Dr Russ Harris, author of The Confidence Gap, a book I would strongly recommend reading, explains that getting confidence is a process. You start at position A where you are not confident at performing a task like public speaking. Getting to position B where you can confidently talk in public takes practice.

It might not be the best idea to dive in at the deep end and start with a presentation to 100,000 people at Wembley Stadium whilst live on TV on a topic you know nothing about. It’s probably better to start small with a meeting at work on a topic you are familiar with and then build up to larger and larger audiences.  

The confidence process

So if gaining confidence is a process, what is that process? Here is the process I have successfully guided many of my clients through:

Step 1 – Courage

To do something new takes courage as we have to go outside our comfort zone. It is often this stepping outside our comfort zone that holds us back

Step 2 – Uncertainty

When we embark on something new, we are heading into the unknown. Our brains don't like the unknown and uncertainty.

Step 3 – Vulnerability

This uncertainty makes us feel vulnerable and our minds want to keep us safe and protect us. We have to overcome the feelings of vulnerability to stretch ourselves and grow.

Step 4 – Competence

The more we practise a new activity the better we get at it. Through practice we develop competence

Step 5 – Confidence

Through developing competence we acquire confidence. Confidence isn't a thing; it is a by-product of becoming competent at something.

Step 6 – Comfort

Once we acquire confidence we are able to return to a place where we are comfortable about the situation and ourselves once more.

Once my clients understand this process, they stop waiting for it to arrive at their doorstep before they start doing what’s important to them. Here are my top tips whilst taking that step forward.

Top tips on gaining confidence

1. Earn the right - Gaining confidence is not a thing. It’s a process. You have to earn the right to be confident at something.

2. Avoid avoiding - Don’t expect to be confident at tasks you’ve spent your whole life avoiding.

3. Don't compare yourself to others - Avoid judging yourself by comparing yourself to others. Just because someone looks confident doesn’t mean they are. Never judge someone’s inside by their outside.

4. Practise makes perfect - When you see someone who is truly confident and competent at any task, they have practised it a lot. Roger Federer wasn’t born the tennis player he became. He practised a heck of a lot to get that good.

5. Set achievable goals - Set yourself reasonable and achievable goals. Expose yourself to stretch tasks you want to get good at gradually, over time with increasing levels of complexity.

6. Watch the negative self-talk - Don’t be too harsh on yourself if you have a couple of stumbles along the way. One stumble doesn’t make you a failure. Anything positive you have done to move towards your goal is a step in the right direction.

7. Embrace the anxiety - It is normal to feel anxious about something that is important to us. Learn to accept the thoughts and feelings that go with feeling anxious. Is it the thoughts and feelings associated with the task you are trying to avoid rather than the task itself?

8. Remind yourself of past successes - Ask yourself, what have I done in the past that I achieved successfully that is similar to what I am working on now?

9. Get lucky - Remember the great golfer Gary Player’s famous quote when told he played a lucky shot out of a deep bunker – “You know it’s funny, the more I practise, the luckier I get”.

If a lack of confidence has been holding you back or you have been waiting for confidence to arrive before taking on a new challenge or direction, feel free to contact me and I can guide you through the confidence process.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Guildford, Surrey, GU2 7QY
Written by Steve Maher, Executive, Life, Leadership and Confidence Coach
Guildford, Surrey, GU2 7QY

Steve Maher is a professional coach and psychotherapist with over 20 years of experience helping people through challenging times and building confidence. He work with clients who are struggling with confidence issues, anxiety, forming better habits and improving their lives and careers.

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