The 5 Steps to Building Unshakable Confidence

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I have spent hundreds of hours coaching executives over the last few years, from VPs to CEOs and tens of thousands of hours as an executive in the corporate world. I haven’t had a single coaching client in my practice or a peer or team member in my career who has not struggled with self-confidence. We all struggle at times with self-confidence, yet it is such a critical skill to achieve anything in life.

The truth is this:

  • Everyone deserves to be confident  
  • Everyone deserves to be the best version of themselves
  • Everyone deserves to build the life and legacy that they are meant to live

But why should you in particular care about self-confidence, both in yourself and within members of your organization? As a leader, developing your employees to build their self-confidence in your organization will have significant benefits for your company. Self-confident workers are more likely to: 

  • Collaborate as a team 
  • Resolve conflicts constructively 
  • Accept feedback as a gift
  • Have great communication skills 
  • Have increased productivity 
  • Be happier at work and more loyal 
  • Adapt to change and innovation 
  • Lead others 
  • Be exceptional leaders 
  • Deal more assertively with customers, suppliers and business partners

This all sounds pretty great, right? But the real question is: how do you go about building this type of confidence? Here are a few things you can do right now to develop unshakeable confidence.

Adopt a growth mindset 

In her seminal book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, American psychologist Carol Dweck explains the two main mindsets we have when approaching new challenges and life in general. “In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits,” she writes. “They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success — without effort.” On the other hand, she says, “in a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work — brains and talent are just the starting point.” This view creates a love of learning and resilience essential for great accomplishment.

You will reflect and focus on what you can learn from your experience in a growth mindset. Of course, a failed presentation is bad — however, you will not get fixated on the result because you enjoy the process of personal growth. You see this failure as a temporary setback and an opportunity to learn from your experience.

Related: 6 Actions You Can Take Every Day to Build Your Self-Confidence

Practice gratitude 

According to positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps you feel more positive emotions, enjoy good experiences, improve your health, build resilience to deal with adversity and cultivate strong relationships. 

Every morning when you wake up, before you even jump out of bed, take a peaceful five-minute break and reflect on three things you are grateful for. This will put you on the road to cultivating greater confidence in your life and self.

Increase your say-do ratio 

Your say-do ratio is the ratio of how often you keep your promises to yourself. Take a few minutes to reflect on how often you keep your promises to yourself or others. Ten times out of ten? Maybe you are just building that muscle and keeping four promises out of ten, resulting in a 40 percent say-do ratio? Make an honest assessment of yourself. 

Going forward, make sure that when you promise anything, whether to yourself or others, your promises are meaningful to you, which will help you increase your say-do ratio. Set yourself a target of a minimum of 80 percent as your say-do ratio. That’s a good start. You can always bump it up from there.

Your fear is boring — confront it

As a leader, you are exposed to many anxiety-inducing challenges. From public speaking to negotiating a million-dollar deal with a demanding customer or taking risky decisions to move your organization forward. Feeling fear at times of ambiguity is natural and human. However, giving in to your fears will only make them more impactful and hold you back from stepping into your full potential. Whatever you fear, make it a priority to face it head-on. 

  • Imagine the worst-case scenario and think backward. Ask yourself: what do I need to do or learn to avoid the worst-case scenario? 
  • Look for evidence: how likely is it that your worst-case scenario will come to fruition? 

Once you confront your fear, such as when you make a phone call you’ve been dreading, reinforce your success by treating yourself. Do something that brings you joy: take a walk in nature, dine out or gift yourself something that makes you happy. 

Lean into your strengths 

People who use their strengths at work are more likely to be engaged and perform at higher levels. In life, leaning into your strengths can save you frustration and increase your happiness. Learning how to lead with your strengths will help you set an example for others. It will empower you to achieve your highest potential as a leader in your department and your organization as a whole.

Create a list with your strengths on a postcard and place it on your desk in a visible corner. Whenever you find yourself in doubt or facing an overwhelming challenge, look at your list of strengths and trust your unique gifts. Most importantly, don’t take your strengths and experience for granted. Appreciate them, because you worked hard to acquire them.

Related: 10 Ways to Become a More Confident Person (Infographic)

Grow your competence 

Competency is the attitude to perform a certain work effectively and sufficiently. Is your lack of confidence coming from not having enough experience or competence in a specific field? You can be an incredibly caring leader. But if you don’t build the right competence to lead effectively, you will only have a detrimental impact on your team’s performance. As a leader, if you lack competence in a specific field, it is important that you take an honest inventory of critical skills you need to develop.

Make a list of the skills and competencies you want to build upon. Look for strong role models excelling at these skills within your organization and reach out and ask for mentorship. Remember that you are never too old to start to learn. Most leaders enjoy the opportunity to mentor and positively impact someone else. 

Alternatively, you can find external resources. For example, hire an executive coach with experience in your field of competence, listen to audiobooks, enroll in an online course or join a mastermind with a group of executives. Expose yourself to challenges to apply your learnings and grow your competence. Take a playful, child-like approach and stay curious to test and learn.

Related: How to Be More Confident