Five steps to confidence

How to develop into becoming a more self-assured person

When my colleagues and I feel confident about a goal or cause, we take bold action toward finding solutions and accomplishing something impactful and goal-directed. Notice I didn’t say, “have the confidence to,” but rather, “feel confident about.” Therein lies the secret of being more confident and acting like it in situations where you really need to. Confidence isn’t something you have. It’s something you feel.

Merriam-Webster defines confidence this way: 1. a: a feeling or consciousness of one’s powers or of reliance on one’s circumstances, b: faith or belief that one will act in a right, proper, or effective way;  2. the quality or state of being certain: certitude (Certitude is a strong intellectual and gut feeling).

There’s a process that you can learn and practice to become a more confident person. This process can be separated into qualities and attributes of which you become aware, focus on and can feel working within you.

There are degrees of confidence that range from feeling timid and uncertain to taking full ownership of a topic or situation. One’s attitude may even cross into perceived arrogance with very high confidence levels.

When you “own” the subject you’re speaking about, your energy level can give you boldness. There can be a fine line here. Arrogance is of course a negative trait but sometimes people may perceive a confident person as being arrogant. A false perception can stem from insecurities, ignorance, fear, envy or even a lack of confidence itself. However, the person with a well-developed sense of confidence will be respected when they articulate their understanding and experience in a matter.

The feeling that allows you to act confidently in your business, even when challenged, is an inside job. It’s one that you can apply in any situation when you know how to manage the “Five Components of Confidence.” Each one of us can learn to recognize and develop these five things within us and harness them to our leadership advantage:

1. Controlling outcomes: Regardless of what’s referred to as fate or luck, we control our own destinies through the choices we make every day. If you fear that you will fail, you’ll tend to make choices that attract that result. Conversely, as you remember the positive outcomes after you applied yourself in the past, you know logically that you can do it again.

2. Self-expression: This is about feeling safe to be heard. Most of us feel some level of fear or anxiety about what others think of us. This fear creates the impression that we lack confidence which reinforces our self-doubt. To effectively express yourself, you need to feel safe in your ideas and convictions. When you have tested knowledge about a matter, you are in the safe zone to make your case through bold self-expression.

3. Ability to perform: Highly confident surgeons don’t enter the operating room expecting success based only on their schooling and experience. They have self-belief in their ability to learn with every next procedure, and the curiosity to accumulate knowledge to improve their skills and assist their colleagues. As you acknowledge that you can never know everything and shouldn’t become comfortable with what you only know today, you still need to believe in your ability to maneuver nimbly and with level-headed judgment through ambiguous circumstances.

4. Humility: Humility is an often misunderstood word that people mistake for meekness or timidity. Far from either, humility brings respect to those who possess it. It’s about being comfortable with not having all the answers and an awareness that others don’t either. Know what you don’t know and be comfortable with that.

5. Social agility: Fear about what others think needlessly holds so many people back. Remember that those who are inappropriately critical or combative are simply reflecting their own challenges. Our work product is largely dependent on how effectively we can handle the social dynamics around us. If people are critical, use your humility, learn from it, but do not define yourself by it. If you do, others will control your confidence.

Russ Ouellette, managing partner of Sojourn Partners, Bedford, can be contacted at 603-232-9403 or through

Categories: Business Advice