Confidence … something that many of us feel we could do with more of. I’m not talking about brashness here – being loud and ‘confident’ in social situations. I’m not talking about getting your own way because you express your views eloquently and forcefully.
I’m talking about the more important type of confidence. The quiet, reassuring belief in yourself that yes, reduces nerves in social situations, and yes, makes you a more effective communicator … but more importantly, also gives you the confidence – the courage – to be humble and vulnerable … to admit your mistakes and learn from them, rather than being battered by them.
No-one is born with this sort of confidence and self-belief. If you’re lucky, as a kid it might have been instilled in you by a parent, teacher or coach of some sort – but even if that happened, there’s a good chance your confidence has taken a bit of a beating as you’ve progressed through life.
The good news, however, is that it’s something we can all work on. Confidence is not innate. It’s not fixed. It’s a skill. Like so many other parts of our character and personality, if we choose to work on our confidence and self-belief, then it will get stronger.
Unfortunately it won’t happen overnight, but step by step, one day at a time, any of us can develop our self-confidence. For most of us, small steps are the best plan. If you want to run a marathon, you’ll need to do some preparation before stepping up to the starting line. Similarly, if public speaking fills you with dread, but it’s something you either want or need to get better at, then hurling yourself into a big event with hundreds of people isn’t likely to make things better – you need to build up to it.
I’ve heard this idea repeated over and over again. When Simon Sinek was trying to generate traction for ‘Start With Why’, he gave talks at his friends’ apartments in front of a handful of people. When preparing for his TED talk on ‘Fear Setting’, Tim Ferriss did exactly the same thing – he would go to companies run by people he knew, and give a free version of his talk in lunch breaks to anyone who wanted to listen.
It’s the same for any of us. Think about the areas where your confidence and belief might be a bit lower than you’d like, and decide on a small step you can take to try and change that.
No-one is entitled to strong self-belief. But any of us can earn it.