4 Steps To Stronger Self-Confidence

“Experience tells you what to do; confidence allows you to do it.”
Stan Smith

Self-ConfidenceA colleague of mine, Harvey Mackay told me the story of a professor who stood before his class of 30 senior molecular biology students. Before passing out the final exam he said, “I have been privileged to be your instructor this semester and I know how hard you have worked to prepare for this test. I also know most of you are off to medical school or graduate school next Fall. I am well aware of how much pressure you are under to keep your grade point averages up. Because I am confident that you know this material, I am prepared to offer an automatic B to anyone who opts to skip taking the final exam.”

The relief was audible. A number of students jumped up from their desks, thanking the professor for the break he was giving them. “Any other takers?” he asked. “This is your last opportunity.” One more student decided to go.

The instructor then handed out the final exam, which consisted of two sentences. It read: “Congratulations, you have just received an A in this class. Keep believing in yourself.” It was a just reward for the students who had worked hard and believed in themselves. They had a strong sense of self-confidence.

And that is, by the way, the FIRST key to greater happiness and success on and off the job. Personally, I’ve spent 30 years researching those keys, and I’m convinced there are 12 keys that will determine how far you’ll go in life, work, and relationships. In fact, those 12 keys are the very backbone of my two-day program called the “Journey to the Extraordinary.”

Let’s delve into that FIRST key of self-confidence a bit further. How can you build your confidence and keep your confidence … no matter what is happening or not happening in your world?

1. Review the things you did well … every day.

Instead of dwelling on what didn’t work or the tasks you didn’t finish, focus on what you did accomplish. Don’t minimize these.

And when someone compliments you on something you did well, make sure you accept the compliment by saying thanks. Don’t respond with comments that trash the compliment and the other person. Don’t say such things as “Oh, it was no big deal … Anybody could’ve done it … It was really nothing … or … Don’t mention it” garbage.

2. Become aware of who you are … and celebrate the good things.

Many people … maybe most people … do not truly and fully understand themselves. That’s unfortunate because there is a lot of good in you that needs to be recognized and celebrated.

Jorge Luis Borges, a 20th century author, had it right. He wrote, “Any life, no matter how long and complex it may be, is made up of a single moment — the moment in which a man finds out, once and for all, who he is.” Find out who you are and celebrate the good things.

That’s what Sue Reinhart, a team lead at the world’s largest automobile insurance company, did. “I love this program! With the tools you gave during the ‘Journey to the Extraordinary’ program, with your ten weeks of reinforcement after the program, and with your ‘30-Day Self-Esteem Builder,’ I am feeling so good about myself. My self-confidence has really risen.”

3. Take control of fear.

“In the absence of confidence, fear and worry take control. Progress is held in check and momentum grinds to a halt.” So say the authors Canfield, Hansen, and Hewitt in “The Power of Focus.” I agree.

And to make things worse, everything you want is on the other side of fear. So what can you do? Don’t believe everything you think.

I’ll never forget the time I didn’t do that. Even though I had won two “Outstanding Faculty Awards” from two different universities, and even though I had a successful speaking and consulting business on the side, I let fear get the better of me when I was hired by one of the world’s biggest and most famous organizations to conduct a two-day “Presentation Skills” seminar. I began thinking to myself, “I’m only in my late 20’s. Sure, I’ve got a Ph.D. and a great track record, but what do I have to tell senior managers and executives? After all, they’re in their 50’s and make ten times the amount of money I make.”

I got into a self-defeating thought cycle that was probably evident when I began the two-day program. They saw fear instead of confidence. Within an hour of the program starting, the person in charge of the meeting said, “You’re no good. Your program won’t help us. And besides, I could do a better job of teaching the class than you.” He relegated me to a seat in the back of the room where I sat silently and watched him teach the next two days. I was thoroughly humiliated.

I learned two things. First, take control of my thoughts. Refuse to let fear take over and wipe away my confidence.

Second, don’t believe everything you think. I was believing bad thoughts about myself before I spoke, when I started the program, when I sat in the back of the room, and when I re-lived that embarrassing situation for the next two weeks. And I shouldn’t have believed those thoughts in the first place.

About three weeks after the program, another senior person from same organization called me in for an interview … to discuss the possibility of conducting several programs for them. I immediately told him about my failure with another group in his company so he had all the facts before we went any further in our discussion. His response? “Oh, you’re talking about Bill’s meeting. Don’t worry about him and what happened. He’s a real J_RK!”

The truth is I probably could have done a better job on the seminar that was taken away from me. But the bigger truth was I sabotaged my confidence and best efforts by thinking the wrong thoughts and letting fear take control.

Finally, for the purpose of this “Tuesday Tip,” to build your self-confidence…

4. Push yourself to accomplish short-term goals.

There’s no greater way to build confidence than getting things done. So every day do something that moves you closer to finishing a project, closing a sale, or building a relationship. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted or interrupted.

Break your big goals into smaller short-term goals. It feels great and builds confidence as you see each smaller goal get accomplished. In fact, I’d even suggest you print this next statement out and put it on the wall in front of you so you read it several times a day: THE ROAD TO CONFIDENCE IS PAVED WITH WEEKLY VICTORIES.

Perhaps the best news of all … you don’t have to take forever to build and maintain your self-confidence … if you simply use the right tools. Amber Lynch, a manager at the Complete Property Management Group learned that. She said, “I used to struggle with self-confidence. But your affirmation exercises at your ‘Journey to the Extraordinary‘ program made an INSTANT and positive difference in my self-esteem, and I continue to use this confidence in my professional career and personal life.”

Put one or more of these techniques into practice and you will also see an INSTANT and positive difference.


Take two minutes at the end of each day to review the good things you accomplished that day. Do this for a week, and notice the good feelings and good results you get.