People tell me I’m confident. I don’t disagree (see, I told you I was confident)—I’ve developed more self-assurance over the years, and it’s a huge asset in my work and life.
But I’ve come to realize many people misunderstand key components of confidence and how it works. So, here’s what I’ve learned about cultivating it:
1. Confidence Isn’t the Absence of Fear
Just because you believe you can do something doesn’t mean you don’t fear doing it. It’s normal to assume that confident people don’t worry, get anxious, or fear failure in their pursuits.
But that’s not remotely true. Confident people feel as much fear as everybody else—but they don’t allow it to prevent them from action. They acknowledge the fear, cope with it, and in some cases even embrace it as motivation.
But they never get the luxury of living without it. Nobody does.
2. Confidence Is Fueled by Failure as Much as Success
Success is not the key to developing confidence—failure is.
One of the best ways to build confidence is to suffer a failure and recognize you survived it. Failure teaches us we’re more resilient than we imagine. It’s too easy to blame a lack of confidence on a lack of success. That’s not where it comes from. My confidence doesn’t come from the belief that I’ll succeed, but rather from the belief that I’ll be OK if I don’t.
3. A Long-Term Outlook Makes it Easier to Be Confident
I tend to take a long-term view of the world, my life, and my work. While I have my share of short-term goals, my focus on a long-term enables a more confident approach because I don’t die with every bump in the road.
People who struggle with confidence tend to be impatient. That’s because they approach things with a short-term mindset. They’re focused on the moment, the project, or the last sentence of criticism they heard, and lose sight of how far they’ve come and where they’re headed.
Focus on the big picture, not the small details. For example, I’d rather be confident about the general sentiment of this post than be confident that the last paragraph I wrote is exactly right.
4. Preparation Builds Confidence
I’m a good digital marketer, and I’m comfortable saying that because I’ve put in the time to prepare and learn what it takes to be good at my job.
Even if presented with a challenge I’ve never faced before, I’m confident I can solve it because I’ve built a foundation of expertise to call on in the process. And I know I’ll be able to figure out what I don’t know.
The more preparation you do—the more you learn, experience, and practice—the more confident you’ll become.
5. You Generate Confidence, It’s Not Given to You
It feels good when somebody compliments you and certainly gives you a confidence boost, but the core of confidence doesn’t come from other people—it has to come from yourself.
If you depend on others to boost your self-assurance, then you become vulnerable to the ebbs and flows of others’ judgment. Sometimes their feedback will be correct, but many times it won’t.
Confident people don’t allow others to determine their success. When you anoint yourself as the most important judge of your activities, you take control of your own confidence. You don’t rely on others to give you permission to feel good about yourself.
You always have the right to be confident. Don’t give it away.
6. Confidence Is Contagious
I bet you enjoy being around people who are confident—working with them, spending time with them, and following them.
I know I do. We’re drawn to people who believe in what they do and genuinely own who they are. Their confidence spreads to everyone around them. It’s contagious.
This ability to inspire others is not only a reason to be more confident yourself, but it’s also a reason to seek out more confident people to be in your life. If you feel insecure or lack confidence, look at the people in your circle. I bet most of them lack it, too.
7. Confidence Creates Pressure
Not everything about being confident is great.
While it’s much better to be so than not, there are some dangers that come with a confident outlook on the world. It can make you believe you’re capable of doing anything and solving any problem, but it can also create a pressure to then deliver on those promises. The more self-assured you become, the more self-imposed pressure you put on yourself to live up to that confidence.
It’s important to remember confidence isn’t a magic bullet, and not everything you do is going to work. As I mentioned before, we’re going to fail as much as we succeed.
Don’t let it trick you into thinking otherwise, and don’t beat yourself up for those failures.
8. The More Varied Your Experiences, the More Confident You’ll Become
If you’ve only lived in one place, only hung out with the same people, or only worked at the same job, you can only be so confident.
Familiarity may be comfortable, but comfort is not confidence. To become truly confident, it’s important to step out of your comfort zone and broaden your experiences. The more you’re exposed to, the more life you experience, the more confident you’ll become.
9. Confidence Is a Choice
I’m confident because I choose to be. I don’t know you, but I know you’ve had both success and failure in your life. And if you lack confidence, it’s in part because you believe your failure to be a more accurate depiction of you than your success.
You don’t have to believe that, you choose to. You can make another choice.
And I hope you do.
This article was originally published on Medium. It has been republished here with permission.
Photo of people talking courtesy of Portra Images/Getty Images.
Josh Spector is a digital marketing consultant, idea collector, and creator of the 10 Ideas Worth Sharing newsletter. The former head of digital media and marketing for The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, he continues to oversee digital strategy for The Oscars in addition to working with entertainment industry clients and creative professionals. Say hi on Twitter @jspector.More from this Author