Self-confidence: three things you really need to know

Self-confidence is a very frequent visitor in my coaching and consulting conversations – increasingly so.

It’s hard to admit you aren’t as confident as you would like to be, especially when you are established and successful. Honestly though, everyone struggles at some time or another, and some struggle a lot of the time.

Self-confidence can be elusive though.

It isn’t good or bad – in itself. It doesn’t guarantee success or happiness – but can help, or get in the way. It is frequently misunderstood. Few people really know what it is – and what it isn’t. Misunderstandings, myths and assumptions can hold people back.

This article is an easy read and expands on the most common myths.

If you are keen to improve your self-confidence, there are three things to really know about confidence:

  1. Self-confidence is multifaceted and features elements of self-worth (am I worthy of love, respect, happiness), self-esteem (am I a good, kind, decent, strong, trustworthy person) and self-efficacy (how likely am I to succeed at this task, this skill, this thing)
  2. Self-confidence is also primarily about certainty – how certain you are in the judgments you make about yourself. How much you trust them and how much you use them.
  3. Self-confidence is unique to you and dynamic – changing in different situations and at different times.

By knowing these things, you can work on your self-confidence in the right way.

  • In coaching, we work on issues of self-worth differently than we would self-esteem or self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is generally the most practical and can be a good place to start. By becoming more confident at doing something useful to you, you may also become more confident in yourself.
  • By understanding the role of certainty, you are better able to test how much you trust your own assessments, challenge them, re-frame them if necessary, and notice how you act on them. For example, you might assess that you are good at meeting new people, but rarely actually do it.
  • No one is born self-confident or not self-confident. By getting to know your own self-confidence better you can learn to work with it better. You will have times when you have felt self-confident, certain of your assessment, and able to act on it.

Your version of self-confidence is “how you feel when you are being your best self” (Author Carolyn Webb)

The good news is that there are many ways to improve your self-confidence – here are three tried and tested strategies

Play to your strengths.

Research shows that playing to your strengths improves your happiness, performance, and wellbeing – and confidence. Take time to get to know them.

Be kind to yourself.

A lot of people are tougher on themselves than they would ever be on others. If you find yourself doing this, it can help to ask: “Would I talk to, or think about, a friend in this way?“

Break up big goals into smaller achievable goals 

Confidence is built on real achievement, not hollow praise. Studies show that unfounded compliments can often have the opposite effect – undermining confidence! A steady flow of real achievements, however small, is much more effective and sustained.

To learn more, please check out my book: Dancing with fear and confidence: How to liberate yourself and your career in midlife – available now: ( (

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s