First published in Thrive Global on 5 June

Confidence is not just nice to have. It’s a must-have. It doesn’t matter what area of life or business you name, without it we’re lost. That’s not just because we’re naturally drawn to confident people; we often follow someone who is confident over someone who isn’t. And, we do this with very little thought or consideration. But why?

Confidence speaks! And it’s measurable. 

Sometimes looks can be deceiving, and we end up following the wrong person down the garden path. Perhaps, we don’t ask enough questions and do our due diligence. It still holds true, however, that a confident person inspires action. It also allows us to motivate ourselves into taking action. There are different theories on the subject as to whether confidence is both a trait and a skill. Some people seem to be innately seIf-assured. If you weren’t lucky enough to be born with it, you can build your confidence muscle and literally become the most confident person in the room. It just takes some work.

How often do you talk yourself out of things because you convince yourself you don’t have what it takes?

You can lay that squarely at the feet of self-doubt. We all have an idea of what it is to be confident. We recognize it when we see it or hear it: Confidence is being sure about the truth of something or a self-assurance of one’s own abilities or qualities. It’s the belief that we can rely on or have faith in someone or something. It helps you gain credibility, make good lasting first impressions and supports you in dealing with pressure and meeting life head-on. Tackling life head-on instead of avoiding its difficulties means we don’t miss opportunities that we both want and deserve. 


Context matters

How confident you feel depends on both the situation you find yourself in and on context. We can all find examples in our lives where we exhibit a profound level of confidence. If you are confident in one area of life, since it is a skill, it can be transferred to other areas of life. If we break the word con-fidence down it’s made up of con, which means with, and fide which is belieftrust or faith. Put them together, and it means acting with or in faith and trust. Note, it doesn’t say blind trust. That would be naive. No matter how much we might want to do something if we have a skill or a knowledge gap, then it’s foolish to be overly confident.


Practise, practise, practise

While it would nice if we just show up totally confident and ready to tackle life when we find things challenging it still means doing the work to develop the required skill. Think about the 4 stages of competence where we actively move from having no idea about what we know to having so much skill in an area that the task or situation is second nature and we act without thinking; it just happens “naturally”. So of course, that means practice, practice, practice. And, not just any practice but the kind where you monitor your approach or results and continually adjust and correct until you ‘get it’. Once you’ve reached a level of unconscious competence or even when you are consciously competent it’s easy for you to have faith in and trust yourself. Competence naturally engenders self-assuredness. And, as a result, others are more likely to follow your lead and belief in both you and your initiatives.


Fake it till you make it?

I’ve always had a problem with the idea that you can fake it till you make it. I get the idea of it. I just think that the approach is flawed. Backward even. We can smell a fake a mile off. That’s why authenticity is a bit of a buzz word these days. Instead of faking it till you make it, I prefer to “Act as if…” and then fill in the blank. When you act as if you come from a place of already having achieved the very thing you would otherwise fake. In the early stages, there’s still likely to be a skills gap, and you will always be authentic. Your confidence will naturally and organically grow until you can OWN it!


OWN it!

We are always communicating. I’m not talking about just what we say. What we say relays our message to a lesser degree than how we say it. A staggering 93% of communication is non-verbal. It’s known as the 7-38-55 rule. You can utilize this to your advantage. The rule comes out of Psychology studies at UCLA. According to the study, 7% of communication is related to feelings. To attitudes, 38% is related to voice and tone while the remaining 55% comes down to body language.

If you were owning it, how would you stand? How would you dress? What would your intention be before you communicate? There’s that context word again. When you combine owning it with acting as if confidence flows more naturally.

Try it and see what happens.

If you are keen to see how you score on confidence click this link.