Confidence is that one vital ingredient that will propel you forward in life and empower you to knock down brick walls. Without it, you’re completely useless. Now, if you’re lacking in confidence right now, that’s okay. Everyone has wished they had more confidence and self-assurance at one point or another.
I often see people make the mistake of expecting to be confident the very first time they try something new or work on a new skill. That kind of lofty expectation is a huge mistake — authentic confidence comes from hard work and knowing what you’re doing, so why would you feel confident your first time? Today, let’s walk through five simple steps toward actually building strengths and capabilities that will inspire true self-confidence.
Step 1: Gain a Basic Understanding
It can be scary to embark on a skill-building journey when you have absolutely no idea what to do. I can totally understand not wanting to look foolish. That’s why before you start diving in headfirst, you should take some time to learn about this new discipline. You should study, read, and pursue at least a minimal understanding of what you’re about to do.
When you absorb information from people who know much more about this topic than yourself, you’re putting yourself in a better position to feel prepared for any challenges that might arise. This understanding will lead to a sense of self-assurance that will be your friend during the next step of this process.
Step 2: Try It, You’ll Like It
Try out your desired skill in a low-pressure environment where you don’t have to worry about the outcome or result. Use this opportunity to try and get a feel for it and understand what it feels like to carry out the steps or strategies you learned in the prior stage. If you were learning to make a cup of tea, you might have already read about the basic process of brewing tea, but you won’t grasp the difference in taste until you’ve experimented a little.
Making a first attempt also grows your confidence by cutting away at any deep-down intimidation you’ve been feeling. You may not be perfect (in fact, you almost certainly won’t be), but at least you know you can do it on a basic level. It’s like when small children are terrified of going on a roller coaster, but once they ride it and step off, they say to you, “That’s it?”
Step 3: Refine Your Knowledge
If you’ve ever learned a brand-new skill, you know that knowledge is really the intersection of understanding and experience. At this point in the process, you have to start being extremely honest with yourself. Through Step 1, you learned what exercising this skill correctly looks like, and through Step 2, you’ve hopefully discovered how far along you are on the path to doing it right. Now, it’s your job to figure out how to fill those gaps. Spend time with people who are better than you at this skill and ask them for their own best practices. Listening and gathering up their specialized knowledge is what allows you to move forward.
Step 4: Take a Leap of Faith
It’s often said that if you fail to use your newfound knowledge from a seminar or event within 48 hours, you’ll never see a single ounce of value from that event, even if you learned a lot in theory. Skill-learning works the same way. Once you’ve brushed up on your knowledge of how to properly perform a skill, you need to muster up the confidence you’ve already developed and take a leap of faith.
You know where you’re at. You know where you need to be. And you know what you should be doing. Once you actually try to apply your new skill, you’ll start getting better and growing in expertise. Remember to leave yourself room to grow at a realistic pace. If you think perfection is the only option, you’ll give up far too early.
Step 5: Review with Others
It’s pretty likely that you’re not only working on this skill for your own benefit — often, we build skills so we can better serve others and enrich their lives. So once you think you know what you’re doing, it’s time to present your skill to others. It may be good to have confidence from within, but the truth is that most of us also need some external validation to prove we’re actually good at the ability we think we’ve mastered.
Go out of your way to ask for opinions and comments on your performance. And please, listen when people tell you that you’re good at what you do! Give them the power to override your fear of not being good enough by providing you with honest, positive and celebratory feedback.
Confidence takes time. You may not be 100 percent happy with your skill level today, but if you follow these five steps, you’re well on your way to the confidence, self-assurance and fulfilment that comes with mastery.