How Do You Develop Self-Confidence?

In April I said, "The single biggest divider between the good and the great is self-confidence."

I saw my friend Rahim Fazal today (a really impressive person!), and we got on the topic of self-confidence. I raised the question: How do you develop self-confidence? Here’s what we brainstormed:

  • Celebrate small wins. Life is a series of small steps. Each step you take which brings you closer to your goal is worth a pat on the back — even if you don’t make it to the end.
  • Talk to people. Seek out advice and help from positive people. In addition to simple encouragement, when you have a "personal board of advisors," some of the impact of a failure can be absorbed by them.
  • You be the carrot and the stick. Try not to rely on others for approval or motivation.
  • Perspective. This is most important. Gaining perspective on the course of events is mighty difficult. All the more so for young people, since we rarely "look back" (and have little to look back on!). In general, I think our greatest successes and our greatest failures are often not as important as we think.

What else?

7 comments on “How Do You Develop Self-Confidence?
  • As I see it, sustainable self-confidence is not possible until you stop perceiving yourself as a concept and thus cease to be selfconscious.

    That is, being unselfconscious negates the necessity of having to maintain self-confidence.

    You notice this when occupied with and enthusiastic about something, like an interesting new idea, that you don’t think about yourself as much and so act more from intuition than calculation. In that state of enthusiasm a person may appear to be full of self-confidence, but I would argue that it is simply an absence of selfconsciousness that appears to others as self-confidence.

    Just like cats appear to be self-confident, but only because there is no ‘self’ in them to be confident about.

    Also, you mentioned not relying on others for approval or motivation. I believe that to really become independent of what other people think, it is necessary to let go of the perceived value of their approval. That is, valuing neither approval nor disapproval and thus becoming free of both.

    Not in a way that disregards or belittles it, but in a way that allows you to weigh the relevance of both praise and criticism without being attached to them either way.

    And that must be an essential thing for entrepreneurs, because you can never really do anything new or creative without going against popular opinion.

  • Be consistent. Consistency breeds results. Ex: If you are in sales…keep making those calls. Calls turns into deals. Deals gives you confidence.

    It’s the holidays…I’ll get back to those calls in 2007.

  • a few more…

    — Know your weak points and work on it. Look at others who are good at it, connect with them or at least read their write-ups, blogs or books. Over time, you would gain strength and soon you would be on top of it.

    — Surround yourself with people who are significantly more intelligent and draw insights from their methods, how they go about their achievements. Always there’s something to learn from each one of them.

    For eg. Ben managing a world tour and a Book deal while he was all of 17. An entrepreneur while he was all of 12. Now if Ben can do it at 12, you can do it while you are well into your 30s or 40s, no matter what your limitations are.

  • I think that mental illness throws a wrench in the works for a lot of people. You can read as many self-help books as you like, go through therapy, climb mountains, challenge, challenge, and challenge yourself some more, but if you’re mentally ill, you’ll only get so far. I think there’s one set of rules for “normal” people and another set for those of us who aren’t quite normal. Some limitations are insurmountable–why not be realistic about it?

  • I believe in capitalizing your strengths more than working on your weaknesses. More confidence erupt when you know you have the ability to do something, versus pondering over your ability to do it. Practicing in addition, develops your confidence. That’s why practicing before an interview is highly recommended. Lastly, emotional intelligence creates high confidence. If you know you are able to control your emotions and the emotions of others around you, chances are you are more likely to be comfortable and be prepared for for uncomfortable situations when it arrives.

  • I think that being happy with who you are is essential to gaining confidence. Realizing that you have faults does not mean being down on yourself. You acknowledge your faults and then start improving them . And be happy with where you are at in the present.

  • Add this one to the list:

    Understand that everyone feels fear and uncertainty. The self-confident ones feel it and still press ahead!


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