An Introduction to Confidence & How to Improve It

I find confidence to be such a fascinating topic because it is both an important component of peak performance in lifes' critical moments and a significant factor in sustained success over time. 

As I researched confidence for this post, something became abundantly clear. You cannot have confidence without developing self-esteem.

The dictionary has both terms as: 

There are ways to artificially boost confidence in the short term with posture, expression, and glow ups but in the long term, the two terms are married, and confidence will not show up consistently without a properly cultivated sense of self-worth. In this way, self worth is at the core of confidence.

Confidence comes from a blend of 3 factors:

It's nearly impossible to untangle these factors. Although it may seem daunting that only one is in your control, neuroscience backs the idea that we can significantly change our confidence through behavior and mindset. It's not worth worrying about the first two outside of your control, set your sights on the final one and you can significantly change your level of self-esteem by addressing it. This requires you to turn inward, reflect on your actions and acknowledge your current relationship with yourself; it won't come from anything outside of you. 

If you read my blog often, I'm about to sound like a broken record, but like most of these things; the best way to approach confidence is as a skillset. One that develops from many sources, including social proficiency, preparedness, competence, adversity, and humility, just to name a few. There are also resisting forces in the form of self-sabotage (imposter syndrome being a primary one).  I'm planning to write more about many of these areas over the next few weeks.

With that in mind, there are four ground rules to self-confidence:

  1. It comes from raising self-esteem. Your sense of worthiness. Your reputation with yourself.
  2. It cannot be generated externally. It must come from within you. If you are not happy with the decisions you've made, you will lack self-esteem. 
  3. It does not compare itself to other people. You feel like you need to be the best. The strongest guy in the gym, or the funniest in the room, the most intelligent in the class. This gives you a temporary lift of self-confidence but it is not sustainable. Instead, it's fragile because all that has to happen is to put you in a new environment in which you no longer hold that precious asset.
  4. You need to pick where it comes from - To be confident you need to pick the right source and the best source is to cultivate the belief that you are the person who does the right thing. In any circumstance, you'll try your best, and you'll learn from any mistakes.

The fourth rule is where we'll wrap up this blog post. When faced with adversity, your confidence level will be largely based on where you draw it from. If your confidence comes from a belief in your ability to grow from challenges and rise up after you've been knocked down, it will be rock solid. If instead, its foundation is set in something outside of you like a skillset you hold, being the smartest person in the room, the toughest, or the richest, then it's fragile because all it takes to remove it is to pluck you out of your area of confidence and place you in a new environment. 

What you can do now

Don't be the big fish in a small pond. Discover the source of your confidence and shift it to an internal source. Then cultivate your sense of self-worth and make that source unshakeable. Confidence from this source, amplified by self-reflection, results in:

  1. Deep faith in ones ability to achieve ambitious goals and 
  2. Magnetic charisma that radiates from the person in any environment or circumstance. 

As mentioned, I plan to write quite a bit over the next few months about the various facets of confidence, self-worth, and resisting forces. It's a fascinating and complicated subject that I hope to shine some light on for myself and you. Here's a question to help start the process of acknowledging your source of self-esteem. 

What is the source for your self-confidence right now? Does it come from the praise of others, responsibility, the love of another, or superiority? 

  1. Write down the source for your confidence. If it's an external source, work to eliminate it, then commit to a new one. 
  2. Write down where you commit to getting your confidence from in the future. Define it and state how it will change your perception of events. 

The best source to choose is the faith that you have the ability to overcome any challenge presented. If you're presented with a challenge, your the person who will figure it out. Even if it takes multiple attempts. If you get knocked down, your the person who gets back up. When you fail, you're the person who takes it lightly but learns deeply. If you get embarrassed, you're the person who accepts the circumstance and steps forward despite it—all qualities of a confident individual.  

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