Two weeks ago, I wrote about finding your confidence and shared some approaches on what worked. Those approaches were just the beginning. They gave me confidence in my skills and what I could accomplish. I didn’t feel confident on the inside yet. It was starting, but certainly, not at the level, I needed to be successful. That journey for me was more difficult.

I can tell you that building skills and knowledge and being able to apply them, then draw on those experiences when needed, absolutely helped build my confidence.

The most significant step that helped me, and many others I have worked with, was to build a personal foundation. It happened over time. I built self-awareness. I sought out the guidance of professional counselors. I read self-help books. I participated in as many courses as I could and I observed people in action, to see what behaviours resonated with me.

True confidence comes from believing in yourself. For myself and my clients, success came when there was clarity on what we wanted, what was important in our lives, what our values were and what we were prepared to accept and not accept in our lives. That gave strength and conviction. Not at first though, we had to test our beliefs and values with others. We learned that when we speak with conviction, others have confidence in us.

I remember a friend asking me to lie for her. It didn’t sit well with me and was against my values. I didn’t want her to think I wouldn’t support her and I didn’t want her to be mad at me, so I was hesitant to say no to her. I stalled. I asked questions. I did everything but say no to her.

I had to keep reminding myself that I needed to be true to me and if I lost her friendship in the process, so be it.

I finally mustered up the strength to tell her that I care about her and wanted to support her, however, I was not comfortable lying for her, and that lying like that was not who I was. I was fearful of her response. She was upset at first, but then she came around and realized that she was putting me in an unfair position and that I made her think that she too needed to be honest.

That was an ‘aha’ moment for me. Not only did I stand up for myself, I inspired her to change her perspective. It gave me strength and built my confidence. The next time a similar situation came up, I was a little stronger. Each time it got easier. Even though I didn’t feel it yet, I pushed through anyway and said what was in my heart.

The other major activity I did was to look past my fear. To do that, I asked myself – what is the worst that could happen? The worst was that if I made a make a mistake, I would look stupid, I would be laughed at or rejected. When someone doesn’t have enough self-worth – those scenarios are very hard to handle.

I asked the question again. If those scenarios happened, what’s the worst that would happen?

People may laugh or criticize me or reject me. I won’t die because of it. I had a choice to be paralyzed in my fear or grow from it. I chose to grow.

Experience taught me to not present my perspective in a cocky way acting as if I had all the answers. I would say something like, “Based on the information I have, I think this is the answer.” Or, “This is what feels right for me and it may not work for you, that’s ok.”

I learned that others shared my thoughts and didn’t always have the courage to speak up. I learned that no one ever laughed at me or ridiculed me or rejected me. As long as I showed some degree of humility, they were right there beside me, supporting me. That gave me confidence.

The last activity I did was to make sure my personal image was aligned with how I wanted to be perceived. I wanted to look sophisticated, fun, colourful and confident. I cleared out my wardrobe to keep only the pieces that fit my image. I changed my look including my hair and makeup. I paid attention to my body language as well – eye contact, posture, and my poise. Even though I may not have felt fully confident yet, I looked it.

The key success factors I and my clients have gone through to build inner confidence have been:

  • Self-awareness – building a personal foundation of personal beliefs
  • Standing up for our beliefs with others – even when we don’t feel strong enough yet – it takes practice!
  • Pushing past our fear by working through worst-case scenarios and learning from them
  • Creating a confident image through wardrobe, grooming and body language.
  • Accepting that building confidence is a journey of small steps and small wins and definitely a conscious effort to make it happen

I am asked often how to build a personal foundation. In response, I have created a group coaching program that you can participate in from the comfort of your home. For those of you who would like to build your confidence, I invite you to take the journey.