People tell me I’m confident.
I don’t disagree. I’ve developed more confidence than the average person and it’s a huge asset in my work and life.
But I’ve come to realize many people misunderstand key components of confidence and how it works.
Here’s what I’ve learned about it as a relatively confident person…
1. Confidence isn’t the absence of fear.
Just because you believe you can do something doesn’t mean you don’t fear doing it.
It’s easy assume things are easy for confident people — that they don’t worry, get anxious, or fear failure in their pursuits.
That’s not remotely true.
Everybody fears things. Gets uncomfortable. Feels unsure.
Confident people feel as much fear as everybody else. But they don’t allow fear to prevent them from action.
They acknowledge the fear, cope with it, and in some cases even embrace it as motivation.
But they never get the luxury of living without it. Nobody does.
2. Confidence is fueled by failure as much as success.
Success is not the key to developing confidence. Failure is.
This is because an ability to handle failure is what enables you develop confidence that you can succeed the next time.
One of the best ways to build confidence is to suffer a failure and recognize you survived it. To see that your fear of failure — which is often the reason you lack confidence in the first place — is overblown.
Failure teaches us we are more resilient than we imagine.
It’s too easy to blame a lack of confidence on a lack of success. That’s not where it comes from.
My confidence doesn’t come from belief I will succeed, but rather from belief I’ll be OK if I don’t.
3. A long-term outlook makes it easier to be confident.
I tend to take a long-term view of the world, my life, and my work. This has made it much easier to be confident.
While I have my share of short-term goals, my focus on a long-term trajectory enables a more confident approach because I don’t die with every bump in the road.
It’s easier to believe you’re headed in the right general direction than it is to be sure you’re taking the shortest path to get there.
People who struggle with confidence tend to be impatient as well. That’s because they approach things with a short-term mindset.
They’re focused on the moment, the project, or the last sentence of criticism they heard, and lose sight of how far they’ve come and where they’re headed.
Focus on the big picture, not the small details.
For example, it’s easier for me to be confident about the general sentiment of this post than it is for me to be confident that the last paragraph I wrote is exactly right.
4. Preparation builds confidence.
I’m a good digital marketer.
I’m comfortable saying that because I’ve put in the time to prepare and learn what it takes to be good at my job.
Even if presented with a challenge I’ve never faced before, I’m confident I can solve it because I’ve built a foundation of expertise to call on in the process. And I know I’ll be able to figure out what I don’t know.
The more preparation you do — the more you learn, experience, and practice — the more confident you’ll become.
Confident people understand this because they are constantly preparing — broadening their skills, adding to their knowledge base, and expanding their horizons.
Preparation is their secret weapon. They know they can call on it as needed.
It’s a big reason why they’re confident.
5. You generate confidence, it’s not given to you.
It feels good when somebody compliments you and certainly gives you a confidence boost, but the core of confidence doesn’t come from other people — it has to come from yourself.
If you depend on others to boost your confidence then you become vulnerable to the ebbs and flows of the judgment of others.
Sometimes their feedback will be correct, but many times it will not.
Confident people don’t allow others to determine their confidence.
I’m confident about my work because I know I do good work. I love when others recognize it, but the quality of my work is not determined by them — it’s determined by me.
That attitude enables my confidence. When you anoint yourself as the most important judge of your activities, you take control of your own confidence. You don’t rely on others to give you permission to feel good about yourself.
You always have the right to be confident. Don’t give it away.
6. Confidence is contagious.
I bet you enjoy being around people who are confident. Working with them, spending time with them, and following them.
I know I do.
Not cocky, arrogant, and self-centered people — that’s a whole other story. I’m talking about confident people.
We are drawn to people who believe in what they do and genuinely own who they are. Their confidence spreads to everyone around them. It’s contagious.
We feel more confident when we’re part of a team led by a confident person. And we find it easier to be confident when our company exudes a confidence about who it is and what it does.
This ability to inspire others is not only a reason to be more confident yourself, but it’s also a reason to seek out more confident people to be in your life.
If you feel insecure or lack confidence, look at the people in your circle. I bet most of them lack confidence too.
7. Confidence creates pressure.
Not everything about being confident is great.
While it’s much better to be confident than not, there are some dangers that come with a confident outlook on the world.
Confidence can make you believe you’re capable of doing anything and solving any problem. It’s a great attitude to have.
But it can also create a pressure to then deliver on those promises.
The more confident you become, the more self-imposed pressure you put on yourself to live up to that confidence.
It’s important to remember confidence isn’t a magic bullet and not everything you do is going to work. As I mentioned before, we’re going to fail as much as we succeed.
Don’t let confidence trick you into thinking otherwise and don’t beat yourself up for those failures.
8. The more varied your experiences, the more confident you become.
If you’ve only lived in one place, only hung out with the same people, or only worked at the same job, you can only be so confident.
Familiarity may be comfortable, but comfort is not confidence.
To become truly confident it’s important to step out of your comfort zone and broaden your experiences. The more you are exposed to, the more life you experience, the more confident you will become.
9. Confidence is a choice.
It’s as easy for me to come up with a list of 100 failures in my life as it is to come up with 100 successes.
Based on that, there’s no inherent reason for me to have confidence or not.
I’m confident because I choose to be.
I choose to focus on my success and believe it is more indicative of who I am than my failure.
Because I believe those successes are the “real me,” I am confident.
I don’t know you, but I know you’ve had both success and failure in your life. And if you lack confidence it’s in part because you believe your failure to be a more accurate depiction of you than your success.
You don’t have to believe that, you choose to.
You can make another choice.
And I hope you do.