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Confidence is NOT the answer

At least it’s not the first thing you need.


I had a lot of engagement on my recent article Don’t tell me to “Be more confident” and enjoyed the input from various people. One in particular got me thinking.


“Let me let you into one of the lesser known secrets of "confident" males (and females too I figure). Regardless of how confident someone appears, beneath they have their own cauldron of bubbling insecurities, and their own sense of inadequacies. Males are less inclined to let on about what these are unless you get really close. But they have them! And often in spades! And their own insecurities often lead them to exhibit a whole bunch of other behaviours.”


Shane, who has been a senior HR executive and now about to go off on a sailing challenge - Golden Globe Race 2018 – which involves being alone for 300 days at sea. You’d think he would be pretty confident, but he was the one who offered the comment above.


So no one is 100% confident 100% of the time.


Also, ‘Appearing confident’ is over-rated because people who ‘look’ confident are not necessarily confident. There can also be different appearances of confidence, not the typical dominant, loud, alpha-male ‘look’.


After reflecting on Shane’s comment as well as my own experience with confidence, I’m beginning to see that confidence is NOT the answer, or key to success.


Confidence is a result of doing something, making progress, achieving something, getting comfortable with something we were uncomfortable with before. If you want to have confidence before starting anything, you won’t start anything. Sometimes we can use lack of confidence as an excuse for not doing anything and end up in a vicious cycle of low confidence.


So what’s needed then?


What would happen if we focused our energies on connecting with our:

Courage and grit – to get started despite being scared or lacking confidence and keep going when it’s tough.

Purpose and passion – to be pulled to take action whether you feel confident or not.

Presence and calm – having strategies to acknowledge and handle the stress and anxiety when stepping outside our comfort zones.


It’s having the guts and our hearts pulled to take action. Confidence will follow.


It does help to have a base level of self-confidence, something inside that says “I can handle whatever happens”. This kind of self talk is more likely to happen when we’ve actually dealt with some tough things in life – so we might say “If I survived THAT situation I can handle anything.” Katty Kay and Claire Shipman in The Confidence Code share a number of examples of people who endured very difficult childhood experiences having a strong sense of self belief that they can handle most challenges in life. But if we play it safe, if we don’t take risks or go outside our comfort zones, we don’t build that deeper self-belief and guts, nor are we likely to find what pulls us.


Telling people to “Be more confident” seems even more ludicrous, don’t you think?


The women in this video clip show courage, grit, purpose and passion. Were they always confident? I’m not so sure.



How much courage, grit, purpose and passion do you have to become confident?


Join us or encourage other women to attend the Quietly Powerful Women’s breakfast on practical confidence building to explore this topic further. 22nd November 7:30-9:30. Group discounts available for 5 or more people – please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for details.


Quietly Powerful Women’s introductory breakfasts are all booked out but more will be happening as there are people on waitlists. Please add your name to the waitlist for Melbourne breakfasts and the Sydney breakfast to be the first to hear about the future events.


Related articles:

Introversion is not a disorder and femininity does not equal weak

Quietly Powerful – an oxymoron or truth

White paper: Quietly Powerful – be heard, get ahead and make a difference without feeling fake as a quieter professional woman

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