Confidence – Innate or Learned? by Liz Watt

We all know people in our professional networks who seem to be innately confident – nothing seems to phase them, they breeze through life taking everything in their stride, they are always positive and never scared.

Of course, there are many for whom this is their reality – they are indeed supremely self-confident and never suffer from a moment of self-doubt.

I would suggest though that these individuals are in in the minority – the more I engage with my Coaching clients on a deep level, the more I realize that quite often many are living with a genuine lack of self-confidence and they have to really steel themselves to overcome or manage the business and personal challenges they encounter on a daily basis.

Yet to the outside observer, these are all confident, successful people who are achieving in their chosen career, who would appear to have their lives on track. Imposter Syndrome is a very real phenomenon!

This is not to suggest that most people are in fact quivering wrecks terrified to face the world though! Most people I encounter are pretty resilient and learn to manage the areas of their life where they might not feel completely in control. For example, fear of public speaking is one of the most common anxieties, often ranked higher than death in the pecking order of ‘things to fear’. And yet somehow speeches are made, seminars are delivered, and meetings are facilitated. Most of us manage to overcome our fear and ‘fake it to make it’ – we do the best we can, we face the fear head on and in the main, people would never know that we suffer from a lack of confidence in a particular area.

One area I really lack confidence in, for example is driving. Not crucial to my professional life admittedly, but something I would rather avoid at all costs, much to the hilarity of my nearest and dearest who cannot understand my fear. Of course, I do drive, and get around fine, but don’t suggest a motorway, or driving somewhere unfamiliar to me……

But if you do suffer from lack of confidence and gaining confidence in a particular area seems like a huge hill to climb, what can you do about it? Is gaining confidence a learned skill?

I believe there are techniques and tools you can employ to increase your confidence – as with so much in life that is worth having, it requires effort, hard work and practice. The following ideas might help you build your confidence:

  • You’re Good – Remember Why! You have a professional skill, are experienced in what you do. Take some time out to reflect on your achievements, think about your successes and take pride in them. Better still, ask a trusted friend or colleague to list 3 things they believe you are good at and why.
  • Passion – what are you really passionate about? It doesn’t matter if this is a personal or professional passion – being able to let your passion for something really shine through will make you feel better about yourself and others will take their lead from your exuberance.
  • Take Risks! Don’t be afraid to try something new. Taking calculated risks is a great way of experimenting, moving forward, expanding your skills base. What’s the worst that can happen? And the exhilaration when it goes well – which it will – is infectious!
  • You Have A Voice – Use It! If you never put yourself forward at work, are reluctant to let your talents shine through, never say what it is that you want to do, how will anybody know? So be prepared to speak up, to volunteer for that responsibility, to ask for the training you need so that you can move forward.
  • Your People – surround yourself with positive people who will champion you, who you enjoy working with, who are fun to be around and who share your values and ambitions. Avoid at all costs those who are negative and who sap your energy and motivation.
  • Be Kind To Yourself. We all make mistakes, sometime things don’t go to plan, we might upset someone by accident, we might not win every pitch. That’s life. Don’t beat yourself up or ruminate. The key is to look at the situation honestly, think about what you can learn from it – and then move on. It is all about silencing your inner critic and not allowing that pernicious voice to undermine your confidence.
  • You’re Not Alone. Look around you at your colleagues and friends, you may think they are all sailing through life brimming with confidence. The chances are though that they have their insecurities, doubts and worries, their own areas where they don’t feel all that confident. Appreciating this might make it easier to recognize and celebrate your own achievements and accomplishments, and empower you to not let a lack of confidence to stand in your way, but to be determined to overcome any impediments to reaching your personal and professional goals.

If you do suffer from a lack of confidence in any area of your life, the start of the new year is a good time to think about the changes you can make to build your self-esteem. They don’t have to be dramatic, but a shift in thinking could pay amazing dividends!

If you would like some help in building your confidence, please contact me for a confidential discussion: or 07867 517919


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