Tanveer Naseer

Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Writer

Confidence – A Habit Worth Building

When we look at the various examples of effective and successful leaders, one of the traits we see that they share in common is exhibiting a strong sense of confidence. Now by confidence, I’m not referring to pushy, aggressive, or self-serving behaviour. Rather, I’m pointing to those leaders who create this air of calm reassurance about them, who are clearly happy with their lives and are comfortable with who they are; those who we often refer to as being “natural born leaders”.

Ironically, confidence is not something you’re born with, it’s something you develop from inside. And confidence is certainly not linked exclusively to positions of authority, but is something that everyone can nurture and develop in themselves. But how exactly do we foster this feeling of confidence, especially in those moments where we feel it starting to wane? To answer this, let’s look at the common traits found among those who exude a sense of confidence:

1. Believe in yourself
One thing that’s obvious when you see or hear a confident person is that they have a keen awareness of what they are capable of. When they walk onto a stage to give a speech, stand at the top of a ski hill at the beginning of a race, or when they face their team to offer some guidance on what to do next, there’s no mistaking that sense of assuredness about what they can deliver in that moment.

Confident people also demonstrate a firm understanding of what they believe to be right and wrong and this understanding comes from within them, as opposed to being determined by what they feel those around them would want.

2. Know and appreciate your limitations
This is probably the least evident part of the puzzle in being more confident and that is accepting your limitations. Too often, we tend to obsess over what we can’t do well. But if we look at someone who we’d consider to be a confident person, it’s clear that they are not plagued by any feelings of inadequacy as a result of their personal limitations.

In fact, being aware of one’s limitations allows confident people to cut themselves some slack over being unable to succeed at these tasks, in addition to not having any issues with asking others for help.

3. Challenge yourself
Of course, knowing your limits and perceiving them are two separate things. And this is where challenging yourself comes into play. By challenging yourself, you’re not only getting a more accurate assessment of your true limits, but you’re also giving yourself the opportunity to increase your comfort zone. With more space to grow in, it will be easier to feel confident of your abilities going forward.

4. Recognize your accomplishments and the praise you receive
Another obvious aspect of confident people is that they don’t shy away from recognizing their accomplishments. More importantly, though is the fact that they are aware of what others have said about their efforts and how they’ve benefited from them.

Although most of us acknowledge what we’ve achieved, over time we tend to forget these past accomplishments, and especially how those efforts benefited others. That’s why it’s a good idea to keep track of your achievements, along with what others have said about them. After reviewing this list and seeing the positive impact you’ve had on those around you, it’s hard not to feel confident in your abilities and how they are perceived and valued.

5. Visualize a confident version of yourself
When we think about presenting a confident side of ourselves, we often use others as the example that we should emulate. However, what we should be doing instead is imagining how we’d behave if we were the model of confidence. For example, what would your body language look like? When you speak to others, how would your delivery sound? What kind of information would you share about yourself, and how you would describe your accomplishments?

By visualizing ourselves as the example of confidence, it becomes easier for us to project this out for others to see as we’d be reflecting our inner selves in the process and not simply mimicking the behaviours of others.

In the end, we need to remember that confidence does not come from attaining a title or position, nor is it something that can be given to us by others. Instead, confidence arises from an understanding and appreciation of our own abilities and how our contributions can be of benefit to those around us.

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14 Comments » | Tags: , , , , , , | February 18, 2010 by |

14 Comments
  1. On February 18th, 2010 at 1:56 PM Frank Dickinson said:

    Holy cow you're good! (Feel better about yourself don't ya? 😉

    Seriously Tanveer, this is good stuff. Let me highlight a few of my favorite parts:

    "…it’s a good idea to keep track of your achievements, along with what others have said about them. After reviewing this list and seeing the positive impact you’ve had on those around you, it’s hard not to feel confident in your abilities and how they are perceived and valued."

    I keep a file called "They Love Me!" filled with accomplishments and what others have said about them. It helps me to see my impact on others and helps me in the confidence ballpark.

    "When we think about presenting a confident side of ourselves, we often use others as the example that we should emulate. However, what we should be doing instead is imagining how we’d behave if we were the model of confidence."

    Visualizing this can change lives – truly.

    "In the end, we need to remember that confidence does not come from attaining a title or position, nor is it something that can be given to us by others. Instead, confidence arises from an understanding and appreciation of our own abilities and how our contributions can be of benefit to those around us."

    Perfect summary of the confidence game!

    Yep, you're good!

  2. On February 18th, 2010 at 2:56 PM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Thanks Frank. I'm glad you enjoyed this look at how we can build our confidence.

    Following my piece on how leaders can nurture employees to use their strengths, I wanted to turn the lens inward and show how individuals can empower themselves as well. Like many behaviours, confidence is a muscle that the more we train and use, the stronger it becomes and the easier it is to demonstrate to others.

    Thanks again, Frank, for sharing your experience and thoughts. 🙂

  3. On February 18th, 2010 at 8:05 PM Susan Mazza said:

    You've done a great job of pointing to the mindset of confidence that anyone can develop. I especially like your thoughts about our relationship with our limitations and how if we are willing to challenge the limits we perceive we actually discover that we are more capable than we may have realized. Maybe one of the differences between confident people and those who lack confidence is the willingness to challenge their perception of their our own limits (over and over) vs. use that perception as a reason to not bother trying at all.

    Love the picture by the way!!

  4. On February 19th, 2010 at 10:47 AM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Thanks Susan, I appreciate that. I think the desire the challenge our perception of our limitations – and along with it, the willingness to accept the possibility for failure – is a very important element to building our confidence because we’re giving ourselves the opportunity to gain a clearer impression of ourselves, our abilities and where our strengths lie. That’s why confident people seem to succeed so much and do so well – they’ve learned first hand what they’re strengths are and where the real limits of their abilities are found.

    Glad you enjoyed the picture – for me, that kind of a shot immediately creates that impression of a confident person. Thanks again, Susan, for sharing your thoughts on this piece and thanks for the kind words. 🙂

  5. On February 19th, 2010 at 11:09 AM Sharon Eden said:

    Hi Tanveer… Appreciate and agree with Frank and Susan's comments. I particularly enjoyed your point about confident people recognising compliments and accepting them. Feel compassion for those who when you compliment them reply along the lines of…. Oh, this old thing!

    And, while I believe confidence can be learned, I believe its basis is a natural confidence with which we are born. For some their environment nurtures and develops that confidence. For others there's a necessary disconnection form natural confidence when the environment works against it.

    Yet it's always just a hair's breadth away. And always always available for re-connection!

    Love to you…

  6. On February 19th, 2010 at 6:45 PM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Thanks Sharon. It's nice to see so many different parts of this piece resonating with people.

    You're right that there's an element of confidence that is innately derived, the 'nature' element that is apparent in most human behaviours. But as with most human traits, there's still plenty of room for people to create their own sense of confidence based on their life experiences and the perceptions that come from it. And as you said, it's only a matter of reaching out to connect with it.

    Thanks again, Sharon, for sharing your thoughts in this discussion. A pleasure, as always. 🙂

  7. On February 22nd, 2010 at 9:20 PM John Haydon said:

    Tanveer – Nailed it again!

    The most insightful part of this post, for me, is that confidence comes from “a firm understanding of what they believe to be right and wrong and this understanding comes from within them”.

    A strong sense of mission is what makes me confident. This makes the confidence issue bigger than how I feel about my own capabilities. It becomes about the riotousness of the pursuit, not the person.

  8. On February 23rd, 2010 at 11:34 AM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Thanks John; I appreciate that. 🙂

    You’re absolutely right that having a strong sense of purpose helps to make someone more confident and this is because your focus is not simply on yourself, but on something bigger than you; something you intrinsically know and understand to be the right course to take.

    Thanks again for sharing your thoughts on this, John. It’s turning into a fascinating discussion in seeing what aspects of building confidence people are drawn to.

  9. On February 23rd, 2010 at 8:17 AM Richard A Marti Jr said:

    Nice Tanveer. You reached in and grabbed my heart. I don't usually think about my confidence until someone says something nice about me. Then I am confronted with the tension between that confidence and security I present to the world and the inner turmoil I wrestle with in my thoughts. Yes, I am confident. But that doesn't mean I always feel it. Sometimes I am scared shit-less. There is a connection to the mission John Haydon speaks to that compels me to go confidently. Thank you for communicating this so eloquently. You inspired me to reach even higher.

  10. On February 23rd, 2010 at 4:32 PM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Wow, thanks Richard for the kind words. I’m flattered and humbled to hear how much this piece has resonated with you and I’m thrilled to know that it’s inspired you to push yourself even higher. And thanks for sharing your experiences with this, Richard. I appreciate your contributions to this discussion. 🙂

  11. On February 23rd, 2010 at 12:05 PM John Haydon said:

    It is. Glad I got to know you!

  12. On February 23rd, 2010 at 4:17 PM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Thanks John. Likewise. 🙂

  13. On April 18th, 2011 at 5:49 PM Lara said:

    Very well observed and so succintly written. I think its really important to also realise how important it is to instil this feeling of confidence in our little ones and at a young age. You say that "confidence is not something you’re born with, it’s something you develop from inside." and I highly agree. When my children do something for the first time that they have never done before, like try to ride a bike, I shower them with praise and really instill in them how amazing it is what they have achieved. On hearing this, they invariably want to try harder, do better, and the next time they get on the bike to try to ride it, I can see they already have a little more confidence than before. It all starts from a young age.
    Nice post!

  14. On April 19th, 2011 at 11:36 AM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Thanks Lara; I'm glad you enjoyed this post.

    As a father, I completely agree with you about the importance of instilling a sense of self-confidence in our children at an early age. By encouraging our children to believe in themselves, challenge what they think are their limits and praise them for their accomplishments, we can help them build a sense of self-confidence which is sustainable because it's built within themselves and not dependent on outside factors.

    Thanks again Lara for sharing your thoughts on this piece.

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