Confidence can be built, here’s how to do it

30 September 2016 -


At times we all lack confidence, but if you know the right techniques you can soon get your mojo back

Guest blogger Kate Tajeiro

“I’m confident. I am. No I’m not. Yes, I am. Well, I am a bit.” said a friend’s child about a forthcoming sporting event. It’s what we grown-ups think sometimes too, and yet we rarely voice it.

Very early in my career, when I was facing the biggest career challenge in my work life to date, a well-intentioned person told me to “just be confident and be yourself”.

It was my first interview for one of the coveted places on the Marks and Spencer Management Training Programme. They might as well have told me to be an ‘aardvark’; the fact was that I simply didn’t know ‘how’ to be confident.

Confidence can be quite hard to define. For some it means being in control, for others it means feeling knowledgeable, and for many it just means having some kind of power.

Confidence can certainly be elusive if we try to ‘summon’ it up on demand, as if trying to rub a lamp to call a genie. Yet more often than not, feeling confident simply means just feeling okay, rather than uncertain, with a given situation.

So, let’s look at the things that make us feel more sure about whatever it is we are embarking upon.




Calm (enough)



Wearing the right clothes or gear




Standing tall

A colleague of mine was a dancer with the Royal Ballet. She recalled how her nerves often threatened to completely undermine her ability, and therefore her performance.

Very often, this lack of confidence struck moments before she was about to go on stage.

Her solution was to use her anxiety instead of trying to ignore it. She would think about the butterflies in her stomach as flying in formation, as if she were directing them. This made her feel more in control, which in turn made her feel readier to face the challenge ahead and go on stage, where generally her confidence quickly returned.

You can feel both fear and remain confident and prepared. And even if we do feel under confident, we can use this emotion to help us to push just a little bit more towards regaining control.

Taking steps to be more prepared, rehearsed and looking good means that we are ready to harness the adrenaline that may well be coursing through our veins.

You can take steps to ‘feel’ more confident with a little input and discipline.

We can achieve extraordinary things even if we are under confident, so long as we have developed the habit to not let our wavering confidence undermine us.

Use these questions to help you recognise what’s going on in your mind and to get you into a more confident place: Why might you not be feeling confident? For example, have you overlooked a necessary step in the journey towards your achievement? What can you do about it?

Acknowledge it.

Think about when you do feel confident. What confidence inspiring scenario is most vivid for you? It may be a work situation, something at home, being with friends or doing an activity. Recall how you felt, as vividly as you can.

When do you feel at ease? When do you feel in control?

If you can access how it feels to be confident, strengthening the neural pathways as you do so, it will be easier for you to rise above the anxiety you may have about your own abilities.

I work with a very successful CEO of a global corporation who suffered a horrid tragedy as a child. And this can sometimes still cause him moments of great anxiety, which can threaten to stop him in his tracks.

He has a rose garden that is his pride and joy. And when he feels his anxiety returning, prompted perhaps by having to make an opening plenary at a conference of thousands (he doesn’t like crowds), he imagines being in his rose garden.

The pleasure he associates with his garden releases the serotonin, dopamine and endorphins in his brain which in turn send feel-good signals to other cells.

At this point all his preparation and rehearsal kicks in and nobody knows that this successful man has to use this anchoring technique to get to an assured, confident place.

He admits that the anxiety doesn’t completely dissipate, but just the act of thinking about somewhere where he feels at ease helps him regain control of the situation.

Being able to drop the angst down a notch or two gives us more clarity, enabling us to move ahead and do the job at hand more easily and convincingly.

Confidence can sometimes feel as though it is a little elusive; however if we take steps to be prepared and act as if we were confident, we will begin releasing the punishing grip that under confidence has on us.

Feeling under confident can be extremely uncomfortable. But when we have taken steps to feel better about a challenging situation, we will feel more assured and able to do the tasks that lie before us.

Not only do we have our own ways of reaching it, but we also have different ways of manifesting it.

As we have seen, successful people who we may consider to be super confident may not be naturally so, indeed it is more than likely that they have worked very hard on cultivating this image of self-assuredness.

With discipline and effort we can all find our way to confidence.

Extract by Kate Tojeiro author of: The Art of Possible – new habits, neuroscience and the power of deliberate action. Priced £16.99 hardback and £8.99 Kindle and eBook.

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