Lack Confidence? Here’s How to Overcome It

I begin today by posing a really important question. Do you know someone — a family member, friend, co-worker, boss, subordinate — who has failed to reach their full professional potential for no other apparent reason than they lack confidence in themselves and their abilities?

If so, it’s sad to witness, isn’t it?

But while I’m at it, let me ask an even more personal question.

Did I possibly describe you?

Have YOU ever struggled with the personal confidence needed to succeed or maybe even try something new and different in the first place? 

If so, think back. How did you feel then? Was it a pleasant, rewarding experience? Probably not.

Far too many people lack confidence — even aspiring leaders. As such, it serves as a leadership obstacle that needs to be identified, addressed, and overcome.

To tackle this problem, you must first realize there is only one thing that will serve to build confidence in any human being. But before I share that one thing, I want to share three things that some people THINK will make them more confident — but they won’t.

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3 Things That Don’t Build Confidence

First, confidence is NOT established as a result of EDUCATION alone.

Intense study, yielding advanced degrees will certainly help broaden one’s understanding of a specific subject area. But education alone will not sufficiently build a person’s level of confidence.

Second, confidence is NOT established as a result of EFFORT alone. We all know many truly industrious people who work long and hard but continue to be unsuccessful in developing ever higher levels of personal confidence.

Finally, confidence is NOT established as a result of REPETITION alone. Doing something repeatedly may create a personal comfort level forged in familiarity. But the repetition of one task won’t necessarily transfer confidence to new and different tasks.

So, then, if EDUCATION, EFFORT, and REPETITION are NOT the magic potions guaranteed to build personal confidence, what is the ONE THING that will allow you or me to soar confidently while others quake in their boots?

The 1 Thing That DOES Build Confidence

That ONE THING? It’s SUCCESS. Simple, garden variety success.

Think about it. With every acknowledged success in life — large or small — the confidence in ourselves, our abilities, and our potential momentarily, at least, soars.

While basking in the warm afterglow of some recognized personal success, our confidence levels will naturally be at their highest peak. 

It’s in those fleeting moments that our minds expand. That’s when we’re most open to new opportunities and trying new things. So, to intentionally prolong those heightened levels of confidence, we must consciously focus on the successes that got us where we are. 

An Exercise If You Lack Confidence

For practical purposes, here’s an activity for you.

Make a list of all your past noteworthy accomplishments. No success is too large or small to be captured. 

Include past successes from grade school, high school, and college. Don’t overlook your successful experiences in sports, volunteer, and extracurricular activities. 

And, of course, capture every success imaginable from your past work experiences.

From Day 1 to the present include all successes involving projects, people, and promotions.

Once you’ve developed your comprehensive list of broad-based successes, then it’s time to note what you’ve learned or gained from each. 

Questions to Ask Yourself

Ask yourself questions like:

What new talent did I discover?

Is there a  new skill I learned or developed? What relationship was I able to expand?

Finally, looking forward, honestly ask yourself if you’re currently utilizing all these tools at your disposal.

If not, why not?

Remember, success breeds success.

Yesterday’s successes can and will provide the confidence necessary for today, which in turn will serve as the springboard for growth and success in the future.

Does your team need help building their leadership confidence and skills? That’s what we do. Learn more now.

Photo by Wolrider YURTSEVEN

Phillip Van Hooser

Phillip Van Hooser, CSP, CPAE, Founder & Chair, Van Hooser Leadership. A seasoned leadership expert, keynote speaker, and author, Phillip Van Hooser is passionate about developing intentional leaders who can effectively engage and empower their employees to deliver powerful results. His most recent book is “Earning The Right To Be Heard," a primer for creating greater influence and opportunities. Connect with Phil on LinkedIn.


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