What is Confidence?

career development leadership development personal branding success Nov 16, 2009
What is confidence
How confident do you feel in all areas of your life?  Are there areas of your life where you feel more and less confident?  Would you like to be more confident in any area of your personal or professional life? One of the key steps in personal development is understanding your confidence level and building on it. In order to be more confident you must develop a deep and detailed understand what confidence is, particularly as it applies to you.

Most of us walk around with a vague notion of what confidence is, perhaps based on a definition we learned in elementary school and refined somewhat over the years. I conducted an internet search on definitions of confidence and all the definitions I found lacked an important quality of confidence. This lack of definitional clarity may explain why so many of us lack a feeling confidence - we're looking for the wrong thing!

However, few have a detailed understanding. By taking the time, yourself or with a success coach, you can develop a detailed and actionable definition so you can build your confidence.

How do you define confidence?

Each person has their own unique concept of what confidence is. Often times the definition is vague and without a coach, most of us typically dedicate little time and energy to gaining clarity about confidence and other personal development issues. An important key to success is gaining clarity around everything you are doing.  Whether or not you feel confident depends how you define confidence. 

A Starting Point: What is confidence?

Confidence is a state of being expressed as a feeling of safety derived from the faith or belief in yourself to engage in an activity at a level that you define as competent.

This definition of confidence is different than most that you will find. Consider what seems to fit and not fit when thinking of your own definition. There are a couple of key points to notice about what confidence really is. First, confidence is a feeling. It's not a characteristic or a skill. People with confidence may act a certain way, but that is the outward expression of what comes from the inward feeling. Second, this feeling is completely controlled by you. You determine what the level of competence is that is required to feel confident!  Let's look a little more at each of these components and see why they are so important.

Confidence is a state of being and a feeling.  It's important to realize confidence is a feeling you have because if you are not looking for the right thing you're unlikely to find it. In working with people I have often seen that people have a belief that confidence is a skill or a characteristic or even a state of being (He is confident, for example). These are close, but not quite accurate. And without an accurate picture it's difficult to recognize where we are confident and what we need to do to build confidence.  We need to know what we're looking for!

Secondly, confidence is related to whether you feel you have a certain level of competence in an area. There are two factors that can drive this whether you believe you have a sufficient level of competence:

1) Where to you set your bar?

2) What messages to you give yourself?

Both of these are completely in your control.

In the case of "Where's the bar set?" we often set standards for ourselves that are unreasonably high. How do you know if they are unreasonably high?  Do you set standards you consistently are unable to achieve? Would apply these same standards to someone else? However many of us don't give ourselves permission to be much less than all knowing or perfect.

In the second case, what messages to you give to yourself on a daily basis?  Anything like "I'm not good enough?" These destructive messages we play over and over again in our minds directly attack our feeling of confidence. So no matter how much you know or how skilled you are, it is just simply not enough. As a result, you either embark on an endless journey of knowledge seeking hoping you'll feel confident once you learn "just one more skill" or you will just give up because it feel like no matter what you do you're not getting what you want.

Where do you feel less confident in your life?  Are you setting the bar to high? Is your inner critic in your way of success? Would you like to know how personal development coaching can help you feel and be more confident?


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