Section 1: What is Confidence?
When you think about confidence, what comes to mind? For many people, it will be an image of someone speaking in front of a large crowd, a performer on stage or the ‘cool kid’ at the office or in a friend group.
But confidence isn’t just these things. Sure, speaking in front of large groups and performing on stage requires confidence, but confidence can also be much more subtle.
Real confidence means feeling secure in yourself and your abilities. Confidence isn’t about feeling better than others. It’s a quiet inner knowledge that you are capable.
“Confidence is showing up in every moment as if you’re meant to be there”.
Confidence is about valuing yourself and feeling worthy, despite any imperfections or what others may think about you. Deep down, you feel good about yourself and your actions, you know who you are.
My name is Amund Fjeldstad and I’m the founder of YONG. Over the years I’ve had to do many things which required a huge amount of confidence. While serving as the Group Vice President of Gartner EMEA for 16 years, I had to lead many important meetings with high-up people, speak in front of big crowds and navigate difficult situations.
I had to learn as I went, trying, failing, sometimes succeeding! Now, I want to share those lessons with you, so you don’t have to spend 16 years figuring it out.
I’ve met many young people who are full of self-confidence and who look forward to applying for jobs or going to work every day. However, I’ve met others who feel shy and nervous. They are afraid to speak up in case they get something wrong or look stupid. Quite a few tell me they feel as if they have an ‘inner voice’ telling them that everyone else is better than they are.
Do you ever feel like this?
My advice is to relax. You are better than you think you are. You are good enough! I’ll show you how to get this point across to other people.
I’ll also show you how to build self-confidence and turn problems to your advantage. At the same time, I’ll explain how to handle anxiety or nervousness and how to impress people with your good qualities without boasting or sounding conceited.
Your journey to lifelong self-confidence starts here!
Section 2: Why Confidence Matters
Build your confidence and so much more!
Confidence helps us feel ready for life’s experiences. When we’re confident, we’re more likely to move forward with people and opportunities — not back away from them. We try more!
And if things don’t work out at first, confidence helps us try again. This ability to try and fail is so important. It’s one of the most important things you can learn in your career.
Developing self-confidence also means you accept and trust yourself and have a sense of control in your life. You know your strengths and weaknesses. You set realistic expectations and goals, communicate clearly, and handle criticism well.
“With realisation of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world.”– The Dalai Lama
It’s the opposite when confidence is low. People who are low on confidence might be less likely to try new things or reach out to new people. If they fail at something the first time, they might not try again. A lack of confidence can hold people back from reaching their full potential.
Besides being useful at work, confidence can also help us in the world – with our friends, our partners and our family. Knowing yourself and having confidence is like a superpower, and I want to help you develop yours!
Confidence is also so important because without it, no one is going to trust you. Why should others believe in what you’re saying when you don’t even believe in yourself? If you want to advance in your career and lead people some day, developing confidence is essential.
Section 3: How to Feel Confident
Now you know what real confidence means, and how important it is to developing your career and your life. But how do you feel more confident? When you’re feeling low, it can seem very difficult to build confidence.
The first thing I want to say is – try to relax. You are better than you think you are. I guarantee you have qualities that employers will appreciate.
Employers want to hire a person, not a machine. Relax and take a deep breath. You’re good enough!
With this attitude in mind, let’s explore some simple tools and techniques you can start using to become your best, most confident self.
3.1 Knowing and understanding your abilities
To feel truly confident, you need to really believe you are capable. The best way to get that belief is through using your skills and talents — by learning and practising. There’s no point in trying to fool yourself: the better you know your information and skills, the easier it will be to feel confident. So the best way to start is to put in the work!
However, don’t be a perfectionist about it. You’re probably already more of an expert than you think. If you find it impossible to be confident in your professional skills, start with personal skills and hobbies. Are you a good runner? Perhaps you’re an excellent listener? Or you’re helpful and enjoy assisting others with their tasks? These soft skills are often more important in professional environments than you might think. Once you have a good understanding of your area, it’s time to start expressing your abilities to others!
3.2 Expressing your abilities
If you say you’re good at something, do you feel as if you’re boasting? Everyone has unique qualities, including you, and these often matter far more than academic qualifications when it comes to your career. This is why you need to learn to talk about who you are and what you stand for in a confident way that inspires trust. Here are five ways to feel more confident about mentioning your strengths:
1. Talk About Yourself With Confidence:
Now that you’ve practised your professional skills and identified your soft skills, you need to start talking about them. This is a key part of developing your confidence and pride. And you should feel proud! You’ve accomplished a lot, and many people are in far worse positions. You’ve tried hard and you deserve this.
2. Say What You’re Good At:
Do you feel confident enough to look directly at someone and say you’re good at something or have a particular skill? If not, you should practise. Here’s a good exercise you can do with a friend. It involves three steps:
Next, repeat the exercise but with one difference: when it’s your turn to talk about something you’re good at, stand up while your friend sits and listens. Then swap roles. Both do this three times in total.
Why is this helpful? Because most people feel safer sitting than standing — and particularly dislike having to stand up and speak in front of a group.
When you practise, you gain more confidence and it starts to feel much easier. How did you feel about this exercise? The point is to feel more comfortable talking about something you’re good at in a calm, relaxed way without feeling you’re boasting.
3. Express Yourself in a Different Way:
If you find it hard to say you’re specifically ‘good’ at something, try to find other ways of expressing it which might be easier. Find a different way to communicate the same idea without using the word ‘good’.
Here are three examples:
«I’m happy that I finished my studies with excellent grades even though I had an extra job as a waiter.»
«I’m proud that I stand up and speak at meetings, even if I’m the least experienced person in the room.»
«I’m pleased that I was brave enough to call someone I didn’t know and ask if she could mentor me.»
These are all perfectly good ways to say you are good at something or that you achieved a positive result. However, you sound as if you’re modestly stating facts. You also sound sincere because you’re describing your own feelings.
4. Show, Don’t Tell!
Another way to avoid saying you’re good at something is to show that you are! For example, you could show people something you’ve written, designed or made. This could be from work or from your school, college or university days.
There are many possibilities: a report, model, presentation, sketch, article, booklet, book, program, picture or something else entirely.
Don’t send the item by post or by email. Present it to people face to face, so you can talk about it and explain what you did.
If it’s a physical object, let people pick it up and get a good look. It’s an excellent way to let people know you’re good at something without actually saying so.
5. Mention Praise and Awards:
Another way to let people know you’re good at something is to mention praise, awards or positive comments you’ve received.
For example, you could mention a medal or trophy you won at sports, the prize you won in your specialist field or the fact that you’ve been elected to a particular position.
There are many possibilities: being featured in a newspaper or magazine, a time when you were promoted or given extra responsibilities, or just a positive comment from your coach or manager.
By referring to positive things that other people have said, you avoid the need to say anything good about yourself.
Everyone is good at something, and that includes you. Practise talking about your skills, good qualities and achievements until you feel relaxed and comfortable doing so. This is a good way to develop your self-confidence just by being yourself. If you ever think you aren’t any good at anything, you’re just being unfair to yourself. It’s a perception in your mind, not a factual reality.
Make soft skills
your super skill!
3.3 Mindset hacks for ultimate confidence
Confidence is all in the mind. It’s not some ‘thing’ you can take hold of, and it’s not a simple piece of information you can repeat and learn. One of the best ways we can build confidence is by re-framing certain beliefs we may have about ourselves and how the world works.
Here are five magical mindset shifts you can make to boost your confidence, and your career. Remember, you don’t have to feel confident within hours or days. This journey takes time and effort, but eventually, practice makes perfect!
1. Have Respect, but not Too Much
During the early part of your career, you might get the impression that everyone else is better than you.
It’s common to feel this way. I remember that early in my own career, I had a lot of respect for consultants. I thought they had almost magical powers. Later on, with the benefit of more experience, I thought, «I can do what they do!»
You should treat other people with respect, of course, but don’t take this too far.
Everyone was once young and inexperienced, just like you.
2. People are All Alike
Even important figures of authority are just ordinary people. They started off just like you and slowly worked their way up.
They have the same highs and lows as everyone else. Even if they seem to have achieved a lot, you can be sure they struggle at times and find life difficult. They probably also have their moments of self-doubt.
“We are all experiencing the same problems as everyone else. And pretending we don’t so that every one of us thinks we’re alone” – Joseph Fink
You may think some people are naturally full of self-confidence. This is almost certainly not the case. There will be times when they stumbled, fell and made mistakes — but they kept trying.
No one is born with these skills. They’ve had to put in a lot of practice.
If you work hard and develop your self-confidence, you will eventually achieve a great deal. You are just as good as anybody else and you have the same opportunities.
Have a positive outlook on life, be alert for opportunities and keep your eyes open. Take the right steps and you will succeed.
3. Make Mistakes
Are you afraid of making mistakes? You shouldn’t be. In every company, people make mistakes at every level. Sometimes, financial officers get their calculations wrong, senior managers make bad decisions and marketing managers back the wrong campaign.
The only way to never make a mistake is to never do anything! The important thing is to learn from your mistakes so you don’t make the same ones over and over again.
Did you know that many companies expect their employees to make mistakes?
I know someone who runs a Norwegian technology company. She tells new employees that she expects them to make two or three mistakes every week. Every Friday she tells them about a couple of mistakes she has made that week.
If you get too worried about making mistakes, you become defensive and never achieve anything. Never be afraid of mistakes. Learn from them and be determined to do better next time.
4. Avoid Impostor Syndrome
‘Impostor syndrome’ is the false but worrying belief that whatever you’ve achieved has been mostly down to luck, you aren’t really as good as people think and, at any moment, you could be ‘exposed’ as a fake who doesn’t deserve any praise or credit.
This has nothing to do with how good you actually are at your job. It’s not about false modesty or low self-esteem. It’s a lack of trust in your own knowledge or ability. Even when you’re successful, you say, «I was just lucky», or «It probably wasn’t because of anything I did».
Most people who suffer from impostor syndrome eventually get over it. If you have this type of problem, here are three pieces of advice:
5. Everyone has Insecurities
Do you struggle with feelings of insecurity? It’s a common problem.
Perhaps you feel insecure in social situations or sometimes lack confidence in your skills and abilities. If you think that only you have these insecurities, and everyone else always feels confident, you’re wrong.
Everyone struggles with insecurity at one time or another. It’s perfectly natural, especially when you’re facing a new situation such as a job interview or your first day in a new company.
Consider all the things you don’t know when you start a new job. Face all the uncertainties with your head held high. Think of it as an interesting voyage of discovery. Enjoy the personal and professional development involved. If you don’t know something, ask someone who does.
Everyone prefers you to ask questions rather than simply guessing. No one can expect you to know what you haven’t been told or shown how to do.
Relax, and enjoy the process of learning all about your new job, new environment and new opportunities.
Build your confidence and so much more!
3.4 Believing in yourself
Maybe you have often failed at a certain task. Perhaps you keep on failing and you cannot understand why. You keep going over the same task in your head and everything seems to make sense, yet you keep on failing.
Hold on! Have you ever wondered whether your failure is due to not believing in yourself?
It can be hard to achieve things in life – from the smallest task to the largest – if you lack a strong belief in yourself and your capabilities.
It can be hard to believe in yourself when you lack confidence, and this can often lead to feeling down.
However, if you put in the effort, find that belief in yourself, you can unlock the many tools you can use to start believing in yourself.
How can you gain greater self-confidence and believe in yourself ? One way is simply to practise! Here are five ways to avoid self-sabotage and start thinking in a constructive way.
1. Believe the good things people say
Suppose someone praises something you’ve done but also points out one small thing you could have done better. Do you ignore the praise and focus on that one negative point?
Are you the kind of person who only believes negative comments and ignores or rejects positive ones?
Don’t do this. Believe positive things that people say about you.
2. Don’t talk yourself down
How do you reply to a compliment? Do you dismiss it or brush it aside? Do you say things like: «Oh, it was nothing», «It was easy», or «Anyone could have done it»?
Stop doing this! Don’t talk yourself down!
Say how much you appreciate the compliment. You can always find a way to feel inferior if you look for one.
3. Focus on your good points
Do you spend more time thinking about your strong points, and the things you’re good at, or your weaknesses?
It’s a bad idea to dwell on your weak points. Focus instead on all the things you do really well and can be proud of.
4. Don’t dwell on possible problems
Don’t spend your life worrying about things that may never happen.
When you focus too much on possible problems in the future, you are wasting your time.
Instead, focus on things you can do now to increase the chances of getting a good result.
5. Use positive influences
Whether you realise it or not, you are influenced by the people around you.
In every area of life, from business to sports and entertainment, successful people say they owe a great deal to those who influenced and inspired them when they were younger.
“You become the average of the five people you spend most time with.”
Think about this. Make good choices and surround yourself with people who help, support and motivate you.
Make soft skills
your super skill!
Section 4: Dealing with Nerves and Anxiety
Many things can affect our confidence. Sometimes our nerves and anxiety get the better of us and we have to take a moment to pause.
Pausing is important. It gives us room to take a step back and think about a situation or task with a clearer head.
If we are in an anxious mindset, we are usually going to try to get things over and done with, which is where mistakes can happen.
If we take a moment to pause, we can usually pass through the nerves and reach the other side: clarity.
Here are five tips you can use to overcome anxiety and nerves:
1. Tip One – We all get Nervous Sometimes
The first time I heard that it’s common for people to feel nervous, I didn’t believe it. I thought I was the only one with this problem. The truth is, just about everyone feels anxious or nervous from time to time.
When you experience anxiety or nerves, don’t fight them. Instead, listen to them. Those feelings are telling you something. You can even thank the feelings for arriving, instead of trying to push them away or pretending they aren’t there.
2. Tip Two – Anxiety is a Message
When you feel nervous, your body is telling you something important is about to happen.
Think to yourself: «This is good. I’m being made aware of something important.»
Welcome the nervousness and work with it, rather than trying to fight it.
When you know something important is coming up, what do you do? You prepare as well as you can. The more prepared you are, the more relaxed and confident you will feel.
3. Tip Three – Use Positive Self-Talk
Do you have what seems like a ‘voice’ inside your head that sometimes talks to you?
Most people do.
For example, after you meet someone remarkable, you nod to yourself and say, ‘Interesting!’ However, you don’t say it out loud in the normal way. You just use your inner mental voice.
Unfortunately, your inner voice can sabotage your efforts to do things.
It might tell you that you aren’t good enough or that other people are better than you.
Many people struggle with this type of negative self-talk. You need to stop this happening.
If your inner voice tells you how nervous you are, you need to do two things:
1. Stop this inner voice (which is sabotaging your confidence).
2. Find your real voice.
4. Tip Four – Use Power Words
You may find that you feel confident in some situations but nervous in others. This is common.
Fortunately, there’s an excellent way to calm your nerves, and get rid of negative feelings, whenever you want to feel strong, relaxed and confident.
All you have to do is use ‘power words’.
Many top athletes use this technique.To begin with, think of situations where you naturally feel strong, confident and positive.
5. Tip Five – Overcoming Shyness
There are three situations in which it’s normal to feel shy:
– When you are unsure how to act.
– When you don’t know how others will react.
– When everyone’s attention is focused on you.
When you feel shy, you experience symptoms of stress such as a faster heartbeat. You might blush and find it harder to express yourself. You may even feel you just want to sink through the floor!
All these feelings are perfectly normal.
A small amount of stress can sometimes be a good thing, if it helps you to stay focused. However, anything above a small amount is unhelpful.
To end this section I’d like to leave you with a story about a nervous person:
Section 5: Be Patient
Building confidence is a journey which takes time, effort and practice.
This is especially true in the workplace.
It can be easy to lack confidence when you are surrounded by colleagues, especially because you have probably decided some of them are better than you.
Perhaps you feel judged by some of your colleagues and care too much about what they think.
This can result in a lack of self-confidence.
Perhaps you are new to your job and feel uneasy and unsure of your own abilities. This is where self-belief is very important.
Make sure to compliment yourself and tell yourself that you were hired because you are suitable for the job, and that it is ok to make mistakes. After all, we are only human!
Confidence and patience go hand in hand.
Confidence doesn’t happen overnight. Just like many things, it takes time.
Do not force it, it will happen in stages, slowly but surely.
Take note of the small moments of confidence and the breakthroughs that occur daily, weekly or monthly.
You are going to have to change the way you feel about yourself in order to be confident, and this can be quite a challenge. Be kind and compassionate towards yourself.