Developing Confidence


Developing confidence is about much more than learning to do an activity better.  It is about changing how we feel about ourselves and dealing with our thoughts and beliefs.  It is about facing the things we fear and being curious about why we fear them.  Learning to push through the fear will create a world of limitless possibilities – one where you are in control of your own destiny.


  • Being confident and taking control of your life means assuming the responsibility for yourself and what you do and say.  It means being honest with yourself and looking at what you can learn from each and every situation.


  • Developing Confidence and feeling good about yourself is a skill you can learn.


I find it absolutely fascinating how clients always assume that everyone feels more confident than they do.  They look around a room and make assumptions about others. If you talk to the others they think are so confident often the reality is quite different.


Learning to be confident is like learning a new skill or the rules to a new game.  Think about an experienced driver.  When they first started driving they were very nervous, there was too much to remember, 20 miles an hour seemed like racing, other drivers were impatient and passing the test was a huge barrier.

Before too long the technical driving of the car is done automatically. The driver is confident that they can manage the car, the traffic, listening to the radio and carrying on a conversation all at the same time.


  • Confidence is about believing you can


A university maths student missed his class.  He rushed into the classroom after the lesson had ended, saw two problems set out on the board.  Now the Professor usually put the homework up on the board in this way.  So the student copied the two problems down and went on his way.


Over the next two weeks he worked away at the problems.  He knew he had to get them sorted as he wanted to pass his course at the end of the year.  He spent hours on the problems and finally was able to take his completed homework into class.


The professor was absolutely stunned – he thought the problems were unsolvable despite the best mathematical brains having working on them.


Why did the student succeed where the professors had failed?


The one and only difference was that the student believed that he could succeed.  If homework was set, he thought it must be possible to complete it.  He also believed that failing to do the work correctly and handing it in on time would mean failing the course.


There is a big lesson to learn from that student.  Believing creates self fulfilling prophecies.  If we believe we can achieve – we will.  If we believe we can’t then there is every chance we will be proved right.


Believing you can – stacks the dice in your favour.


  • Confidence can be created and re-created.


When your confidence gets knocked you may need to work harder to build it back up but once you know how to do it you have that skill for life.


You can learn to be confident about yourself what ever the situation.  Confidence is developed by being curious about the unknown, being ready to learn about yourself and others.  You don’t need to know all the answers before you start. All you need is a will to ask the questions.


  • Developing confidence is about being prepared to tackle new things.  Acknowledge that it may be scary but be determined you will try anyway.  Be curious about how it will feel to succeed.


We are all frightened of the unknown.  If the human race had not been prepared to move outside its comfort zone we would still be living in caves.  No sailor would have sailed out of sight of land.  Think what a leap of faith it was to set out across the ocean when everyone else believed you would fall off the end of the Earth.


In more recent times consider the achievements of Roger Bannister – he was the first person to run a mile in less than four minutes. Everyone said it was impossible.  The medics believed that if you ran that fast you would be unable to breathe in enough oxygen and it would mean certain death.


If you look at the news reel footage of the event, you will see people running along side Roger on the home straight with an oxygen bottle.  What ever anyone else thought Roger believed it was possible to run the mile in less than four minutes and was absolutely determined to succeed.  Succeed he did.


What I find most interesting is that once the impossible was achieved, others then found they could achieve it too.  Within 46 days Banister’s world record was broken and in eighteen months well over a hundred people had also run a mile in less than four minutes simply because they now believed it was possible.


Most of us are grappling with our version of the four minute mile.  What is your challenge?  Dealing with illness or the unknown? May be it’s the thought of interviews or public speaking which fills you with dread, perhaps it is meeting new people in social situations, which makes you feel tongue tied and awkward.


Just know you can not only develop the skills and confidence to overcome your challenge but also enjoy the experience.


  • Developing confidence is about learning from things which go wrong.  Seeing failure as an opportunity to learn to do things better the next time.


What is the difference between those who succeed and those who fail?  Those who achieve success are determined to succeed in the long run, yet prepared to fail and learn from that failure.


They set out determined to achieve their goal.  Any setback, any failure is seen as an opportunity to learn.  They are resilient; they pick themselves up and use their mistakes as feedback. Asking “What do I need to do differently next time so it will be better”



Dyson created over 2000 design prototypes for a Hoover before he came up with the final design.  The design which has made him millions.  His success was built on believing success was possible and having the confidence and perseverance to stick with it..  You know you too can succeed in what ever your goal may be – if you are determined.


Be prepared to use setbacks as part of the journey to achieve success rather than taking any setback as a personal insult and a sign to give up.


  • Confidence can be learned from others


Think of someone who is very confident.  It can be someone you know, a celebrity or politician, someone in a film or a book.  What is it about them which make you believe that they are confident?

Think about how they present themselves.

Are they well groomed and dressed for the occasion?

What is their posture like?

Watch their body language?

Are they smiling?

Do they look at people directly?

Listen to their speech patterns.


Modeling others successful behaviour gives you the opportunity to “borrow” some of their techniques.  Choose 5 different people from very different backgrounds who you think are confident and look for the patterns which are common to them all.  Try some of them out for yourself.


  • People cannot tell pretend confidence from the real thing


The interesting thing is that you can fake feeling confident and people will believe it is true.  What is even more wonderful – if you practice faking it, pretty soon it will become the reality.


My mum used to say to me “walk into the room, hold your head up high and smile.”  It is good advice; others will take their lead from you.  If you look in control they will believe you are in control, even if your knees are knocking and your stomach is churning.  By practicing you will soon find that looking and sounding confident gets easier and feeling confident will start to be a reality.


Other people are attracted to positive people.  Try smiling and making the first move by saying a simple hello; it will break the ice with others, watch how their body language changes when you smile at them.  Play a game with yourself.  How many people can you get to smile back at you as you walk to work or when you are in a lift?  If they don’t smile back don’t worry, try someone else.



If you don’t feel confident – Fake it until you make it.


  • Being well prepared will support your confidence


Leaving things to chance, arriving at any occasion unprepared does nothing to help you develop confidence, so the key is to be as prepared as possible.


What ever the occasion dress the part, clothes can act as your armor.


If you are giving a presentation, confidence is in that preparation.

So know your stuff

Prepare your presentation making it fit the purpose

Make sure you have a great introduction and conclusion

Practice your speech until you can do it without having to read each word

Consider the type of questions you are likely to encounter and prepare your answers

Do your confidence building exercises regularly before hand

Dress appropriately

Think positively


You will find the nerves lessen and are easier to get under control.


  • Take an interest in others – it takes the pressure off you, it helps you to feel confident and in control and makes the other person, feel good too.


If social situations leave you feeling anxious, if dealing with professionals leaves you in a panic a useful rule of thumb is to take an interest in them.


Create rapport


Make eye contact.

State what the issues are for you

What are the outcomes they would like

Be careful to listen actively

Act upon what they say and do your best to help yourself


* Don’t accept everything unless you have asked questions and you feel it is the best way forward


Not only does it make it easier for you to talk to others, the dividends are huge.  Others will feel more valued and will form a positive opinion of you.  Rapport and trust will grow and you will feel valued and confident.


  • Being confident is about learning to see things through a positive reality


Life is all about seeing things through our own version of reality.  Perception is coloured by our experiences.  When the Police collect statements following an incident there are huge variations in descriptions of what has just happened.


It is true when you are asking for a factual recount and also true when you ask people to interpret events and the way they feel about them.


Ask two people about the same situation.  One might tell you about all the things which were missing, what went wrong, all the faults and flaws.


The other- about the things which went well, the strengths and what they and others got out of the experience.


It is the cup half empty, cup half full syndrome.


  • You have a choice as to whether you want to be a cup half full or a cup half empty person.


Listen to your language over the next few days.  See if you couch things in positive or negative terms.  In your head reword the same conversations using only the positive version


As you go through the day look actively for anything positive about each event even if it is something you don’t like doing.  The train might be late but as you stand waiting at the station you can see the sun shining, or you have a chance to prepare for a future event in your head.  You might not like going to work but you do like what that salary allows you to do. Be creative, the only rule of the game it to make sure your reaction is a positive one.


Experiment- watch the difference in the people you are speaking to.  Look at their facial expression and body language when you express things positively.


  • Work at being positive – a solution finder rather than a problem giver.


Learn to be positive and to look for the positive in others.


Being positive yourself and being around positive people has a wonderful spin off.  Positivity is infectious.  Actively seek out people who have a positive outlook on life.  Listen and look carefully at what they do.  Model their success.


Equally if you surround yourself with those who are negative you need to learn to shield yourself from being dragged down by them.

Help develop your confidence by surrounding yourself with positive sponsors and by being your own positive sponsor


What do I mean by a sponsor?


We have positive and negative sponsors throughout our life.  Positive sponsors are those who encourage us, telling us “you can do it,”  “we have faith in you” “go for it” “We will support you in what ever you are doing”


Their sponsorship supports us to strive for and gain success.  Being around positive sponsors is empowering, it helps us to believe that anything is possible.


Negative sponsors in our lives are those who tell us “be careful”  “you can’t do that” “You are too stupid, too tall, too short, too fat, too thin, too frightened…”


I could go on. If things are difficult they are the ones who say “I told you so, I knew it  was too hard for you.  I knew you were going to fail!” If you listen to them you will find you confidence seeping away.


So surround yourself with positive sponsors.  The magical thing is you can create your own set of sponsors.  Look for people who will support and encourage you to live life to the full, help you to grab your opportunities with both hands and who will be there for you when you are dealing with life’s feedback.  They will encourage you to keep going.

They’ll help you sort out how you can do things differently, how to learn from the experience, pick yourself up and keep trying. They’ll bolster your self belief and confidence.


The great thing is that it is possible to be your own positive sponsor.


  • Don’t let past experiences limit your future ones


If you assume that because things went badly on one occasion they are destined to go always go wrong you will limit yourself and feed your anxieties.

Approach each new situation with an open mind.  See each occasion as the opportunity to learn about yourself and others.  Be curious. Take the learning from your previous experience and look forward to trying out your new found insight in the next situation.


  • Be honest with yourself in a positive way.


Self awareness is important especially if we are to learn from our experiences.

So how can you do that?  It is important to give yourself positive, constructive feedback.

Look for what you can learn, how you can make it better next time.

It is unrealistic and very destructive to expect to be good straight away or to be perfect every time.  Think how hard top athletes have to practice to be medal winners and to maintain peak performance.  Think about the polished performance you see from actors – it is the result of rehearsals and lots of coaching from experts.


Don’t wait for others to tell you when you are doing well.  Make it your job to take responsibility for monitoring your own performance.  Be realistic about what you expect from yourself and give yourself credit for what you do.  Concentrate on what you might do next time to improve things rather than beat yourself up for failing this time.


If you are constantly worrying about what others think about you, how you look, what you are saying and doing your attention will be on those worries rather than concentrating all your efforts on what you are doing.  It is such a waste of energy.


Just think how much better your relationships would be if you concentrated on your partner and your enjoyment together rather than worrying about whether they think you are too fat or thin, or that they hate your bald spot.


How much more effective would you be at work if you were concentrating on the job at hand?


Anything is possible – you have the capacity to be confident and happy, to be able to take things in your stride.  You have already taken the first step to a more confident future.


So let’s recap:


  • Developing Confidence and feeling good about yourself is a skill you can learn.


  • Confidence is about believing you can


  • Confidence can be created and re-created


  • Developing confidence is about being prepared to tackle new things.  Acknowledge that it may be scary but be determined you will try anyway.  Be curious about how it will feel to succeed.


  • Developing confidence is about learning from things which go wrong.  Seeing failure as the opportunity to learn to do things better next time.  Being prepared to use setbacks as part of your journey to achieve success rather than taking it as a personal insult.


  • Remember confidence can be learned from others


  • People cannot tell pretend confidence from the real thing – Fake it until you make it


  • Being well prepared will support your feeling confident


  • Take an interest in others – it takes the pressure off you, it helps you to feel confident and in control


  • Being confident is about learning to see things through a positive reality – Learn to be positive and to look for the positive in others.


  • Help develop your confidence by surrounding yourself with positive sponsors and by be your own positive sponsor


  • Be honest with yourself in a positive way, evaluate your performance rather than waiting for others to validate it for you.


  • Don’t let past experiences limit your future ones


Just know that you can build your confidence and self-esteem enabling you to approach any situation with a sense of anticipation, so that feeling curious and having sense of purpose will be at the forefront of your mind helping you to feel motivated and in control of any situation social, professional, new or familiar.


You can find lots of free resources on my website

You can also get a free download of my latest No1 International Best selling book, “Thriving Not Surviving The 5 Secret Pathways To Happiness, Success and Fulfilment” from the website.

About Lillian Cauldwell

Own and operate an Internet Talk Radio Network for 10 years, 2005 to Present Published Author of Non-Fiction Book, 1996, "Teenagers! A Bewildered Parent's Guide. Published Author of several fiction books, 2006 "Sacred Honor" and 20010 "The Anna Mae Mysteries: The Golden Treasure." Playwright of Theater of the Absurd and Black Comedies. Screenwriter, Black Comedies