What is confidence? How to be more confident. A secret unlocked

Throughout my career, I’ve coached hundreds of people who want to achieve various things in their professional and personal lives, and if you were to ask me one of the main things which prevent them from realising their goals, it is this: confidence. 

“I want to leave and set up my own business, but I can’t.”   

“I feel trapped in my relationship but can’t see how my life could ever be better than this” 

“I’ve always wanted to try a new hobby, but I don’t think I’ll be any good at it”

Put simply: when we want to do something, but something holds us back, more often than not that something is confidence. 

Let’s break this down. 

Confidence comes from the Latin word ‘confidere‘ which means ‘to trust’. 

 And that’s a useful starting point because “confidence” is all about trust. If you have confidence in someone, you trust in them. Whether delegating a job at work, being confident in your relationship or even going to eat a meal in your favourite restaurant, your level of confidence in something or someone is based on trust.  

If you have confidence in yourself, you trust in yourself. You believe your ability to deliver or do something required of you. And this drives to the very heart of confidence. 

How to build confidence. Confidence is all about ‘doing’. Confidence is action-orientated. Confidence is task-related. 

In my clinics and consultancy work, I sometimes see people who proclaim themselves to be “not a very confident person”. This is a story they tell themselves. Once we start identifying all the tasks they accomplish on a daily and weekly basis, they quickly realise that confidence comes from knowledge and understanding. 

Even those people who view themselves as having very low self-confidence are confident about carrying at least some tasks or jobs in their life. It’s when we ask people to do things which are outside their comfort zone that people start to crumble. 

And that is not surprising! 

Let me give you an example:  if you are a nurse and you have 20 years experienceof looking after people in intensive care you are going to be pretty confident about going into work every day and doing everything you need to do to support the patients in your care. Now, suppose we asked you to stand up in front of 1000 people and talk about your job. The chances are if you have never done any public speaking before then you won’t feel very confident about doing it, despite your knowledge and experience, and that’s because public speaking is a task which you have never undertaken before. The good news is, public speaking is a skill (something I have had to learn and it still frightens me), and once you understand the basics you can do it! 

Stepping into the unknown requires courage and trust. 

When I left my job in the corporate world to set out on my own, I had to trust in myself that everything would be okay, that the bills would be paid, that I could run my own business. It was hard. Very, very hard. I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth, I was a single parent with two boys, and because I did not trust in my ability as much as I do now, my confidence wasn’t high. And yet I did make the step, and I haven’t regretted it one little bit!  The point is, I had no reason to lack confidence. I have over two decades of coaching, leading, and advising people, and I’m good at my job. The voice in my head undermining my confidence was just that, it was a voice.  

The secret to unlocking confidence is understanding. Once you understand this pesky gremlin is all about trust and the task in hand, you can start shifting your thinking, and once you change your thinking? Anything is possible! 


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