Clients frequently ask me one big question. It seems to haunt executives at all levels. Business owners and CEOs share a common bond for this one aspect of their ability to lead. Get bumped up one more rung on the ladder of success and you run smack into this question.


The question? How do I build confidence? In other words, how can I feel more comfortable doing what I need to be doing? Nobody is born with limitless self-confidence. If you ever see someone who is demonstrating a great depth of confidence, it’s because they’ve worked on it.

Self-confidence is like a mental muscle that must be trained and built up over time. Stop working with it and atrophy creeps in. You get weak and uncertain.

First, let me make one big distinction. Healthy self-confidence has nothing to do with arrogance. When talking about leadership, confidence and arrogance are on opposite ends of the spectrum for high-quality leaders.

Self-confidence is a force from within that can inspire those around you. Demonstrating solid, unwavering confidence in the face of some opposition or confusion builds team trust and helps to keep people moving in the right direction.

As soon as the leader starts to show doubt and fear, the whole team loses heart.

Been There Done That?

You likely know exactly what I mean. You face a situation where people are relying on your leadership. Whether you are a first-time leader/manager or a seasoned executive.

Staring a new challenge in the face you can feel uncertain. There are doubts and unknowns which you, yourself can give into. How do you overcome it?

10 Ideas for Building Confidence

1. Visualize your success

Create a positive forward-looking picture in your own minds’ eye about what success looks like’s. Get a clear picture and hang onto it. Low self-confidence is a poor perception of who and what we are.

It is often inaccurate. If you just got promoted, it’s because someone believes in you. Cherish that thought. Make them proud of putting you in the role.

“What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” — Napoleon Hill

2. Celebrate your wins

High achieving people seldom choose to celebrate a win. You typically shrug it off saying something like “I should have done that.” NO! Log that win. Give yourself a small party in your heart and mind.

Realize you accomplished something good. Keep a journal of the wins. Review it regularly. Give yourself the chance to recognize the good you are capable of achieving.

3. Avoid limiting thought

Limiting thoughts are about living life with a list of negative ideas implanted by people from long ago can paralyze your confidence. If you revert to limiting thoughts when confronted with a new issue, you’ll never be able to show confidence. Why? The limiting thought undermines your ability to have confidence.

It spawns doubt. “I can’t do that”, or “I’m not smart enough”, or “I don’t deserve this” are all limiting thoughts that haunt so many people. Purge them from your mind.

4. Do something that scares you every day

Build confidence by overcoming a fear or anxiety every day. Face the music and make yourself have a win. (See #2 above). Face the things that create fear and doubt. Get them behind you.

5. Take 100 days of rejection challenge

Jia Jiang has become famous for recording his experience of “busting fear” by purposefully making crazy requests of people in order to be rejected over 100 days. His purpose was to desensitize himself to rejection after he became more upset than he expected over rejection from a potential investor.

Busting fear isn’t easy to do, but if you want to have fun while building up your self-confidence, this is a powerful way to do it.

6. Help someone else

Doing for others is a great way to get out of your own skin and realize the power of helping others. You can forget about the thing that may be holding you back. Even if just for a moment, try being kind to a total stranger at a bus stop or in a store. Stepping out from behind your mask and doing something powerful for someone else builds the self-confidence muscle.

7. Care for yourself

“Self-care is never a selfish act — it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others.” — Parker Palmer

Self-confidence depends on a combination of good physical health, emotional health, and social health. It is hard to feel good about yourself if you hate your physique or constantly have low energy.

Make time to cultivate great exercise, eating and sleep habits. Dress the way you want to feel. You have heard the saying that “clothes make the man.” Build your self-confidence by making the effort to look after your own needs.

8. Be yourself, the other job is taken

Don’t try to operate in someone’s shadow. Work on who you are and what you believe you can deliver. Trying to copy someone else’s personality, look, action or presence is a waste. Yes, you might learn from those you admire, but you can never be them. Why should you even want to? That job is filled. You need to be YOU!

9. Learn from mistakes

“Experience is not the best teacher. Informed learning from experience is.” ~John Maxwell

Study the mistakes you make. You will make some. First, don’t beat yourself up over them. Break it down and explore why it became a mistake. Learn what ways you could have done something differently.

Make a serious mental note of the learning. Vow to not do that again. Most of all, be aware of the learning and chalk it up as another win despite the outward appearance of a loss having happened.

10. Get advice from trusted sources

Have people in your corner who can exhort you, encourage you. Build confidence by having honest, reliable feedback from people you trust. Be sure you have people who know you and are looking out for your best interest.

More frequently today busy owners, entrepreneurs, and executives are hiring coaches to help them work through all of these ideas. As with any endeavor where you are building strength, endurance or agility, having a coach in your corner can help.

You can read books or watch a video, but only a coach can watch you doing what you do and point out the ever-so-slight adjustments you need to make to perfect your skill.

What are the ways you use to build self-confidence?