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Wish You Had More Confidence?

Wish You Had More Confidence?

BY Michelle McQuaid

Wish you had a little more confidence and a little less fear and self-doubt? Is your need to get things “just right”, to avoid failure at all costs, to please others and to be liked causing you to hesitate in ways that are holding back your career? And creating mountains of unnecessary anxiety and stress?

Recently I’ve been coaching an amazing group of female business leaders each incredibly accomplished in their own right. So when we dug into what most often had them spiraling down towards functioning instead of flourishing, I was shocked to discover the biggest challenge they faced was their lack of confidence.

And they’re not alone. In fact, one study of managers by the European Institute for Leadership and Management revealed that 50% of female managers and 31% of male managers admitted to experiencing self-doubt.

Of course it’s completely natural to experience moments of fear and uncertainty at work, but if you’re consistently struggling to turn your thoughts into actions then your lack of confidence is probably impacting your career and your wellbeing.

So what can you do to overcome self-doubt without becoming an arrogant jerk in the process?

What Is Confidence?

It turns out confidence isn’t simply feeling good about yourself, saying you’re great – perfect just as you are – and believing you can do whatever you want. Nor does it require you to speak over the top of others, ignore their ideas or demand you always be given what you deserve.

Rather, confidence is what allows you to start acting and risking and failing, and to stop mumbling and apologizing and hesitating. With it you can take on the world, but without it you remain stuck on the starting block of your own potential.

In fact, best-selling authors Katty Kay and Claire Shipman in their review of a vast range of confidence research found that confidence matters more to our success than competence does.

How? Well if you choose not to act, you simply have less chance of success.

In this episode of Chelle McQuaid TV, I’ll show you three steps you can take to confidently and authentically step forward at work.

Can You Act With Confidence?

Based on all the research they reviewed, Katty and Claire recommend these three simple steps:

  1. Take action. It seems nothing builds confidence like taking action, especially when the action involves risk and failure. So step outside your comfort zone and if the very idea feels overwhelming focus on how your actions can benefit others to kick-start your confidence. Start with small challenges that allow you to grow, improve and gain confidence. If you fail, think about how you can do it differently next time and try again. If you succeed, set yourself the next challenge and keep stretching yourself forward again and again.
  2. Think less. Note down the stories you’re telling yourself that undermine your confidence and ask: Is this the only explanation for what’s unfolding? Try to capture as many plausible alternatives as possible and invest your attention on the explanations that build, rather than destroy your confidence. And if all else fails try a little self-compassion and talk back to yourself like you would a friend who was full of self-doubt.
  3. Be authentic. Be confident in a way that feels genuine to you. You don’t always have to speak first; you can listen, and incorporate what others say. You can speak calmly but carry a smart message. Play to your distinctive strengths and values. And don’t be afraid to express your vulnerability. After all, you’re at your most powerful when confidence emanates from your core.

You can test your levels of confidence by taking this brief survey at Or listen to me interview Katty in-depth about her research in confidence at work on this free podcast. And if you’d like to try shift your brain chemistry when it comes to confidence watch this fabulous TED talk with Amy Cuddy for a simple way to feel more confident before your next meeting at work.

What might be possible for your career if you felt a little more confident at work?

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