marisa morby

Why Building Self-Confidence Matters

Self-Confidence Gone Wrong

Not trying is the real mistake

I had a classmate in college that was very smart and capable. He always did great in school, and seemed set up to succeed. But when we were done with college, we had to start applying for jobs in a workforce where we felt totally unprepared. His usual confidence and “I can conquer that” attitude faded away as reality set in.

Originally he sent out a few resumes a week, but as the weeks wore on and one month turned into two, he stopped trying. Jobs would come up that looked exciting, but instead of applying he would make an excuse of not having the right experience, or it was too far away, or he didn’t know that it would be a good place to work.

Slowly, he gave up and settled for a job that he didn’t really want, but that paid the bills and was easy. Some might think that he had a problem with self-esteem. But they are two different things; and self-esteem is more of a fixed feeling. You either have it or you don’t. In recent research, self-esteem has been seen as much less important than self-confidence and self-compassion to measure how happy and successful a person will become.

So, how could someone who has decent self-esteem, and had been so confident in one setting, feel so totally out of place and unconfident in another?

Self-Confidence Done Right

Knowing that you can master something is a great way to start

But someone else in that same situation can have an entirely different outcome. I had another friend that worked at the same company I did. He knew he was smart and capable, but also knew that he had to pay the bills. He wasn’t in love with his job, but it was steady and reliable.

After a couple of years he got restless. He wanted to open a restaurant but wasn’t sure that it was a good idea to leave something stable for something totally new that was basically a crap shoot. Sure, he was a great cook, but he knew nothing about running a business. We talked about it one day, and he wanted to know what my opinion was.

I told him that if he wasn’t happy where he was today, he wouldn’t be happy there tomorrow. If he saw an opportunity to make a change and do something he’d always dreamed of, then he should take it. Even if the idea tanked, at least he tried it.

He thought about it for a couple months more and eventually quit to get his restaurant going. He had to do all the renovations of the building he bought because he’d used almost all of his money just to get the space. He moved in with a friend to save on rent, but eventually ended up sleeping in the restaurant because that way he could work until it got dark and then get up early and start again. When I saw him right before the restaurant opened he was completely exhausted but happy.

And now? After a few years of running his restaurant he opened a second location in a bigger part of town. He’s doing something that he always wanted simply because he was willing to take the chance and believed that he could do it.

What Self-Confidence Is

Trusting your own abilities and knowing that you can succeed will help you make better decisions

Remember my classmate from the first story? How could he be so confident in one setting but not in another? The thing is, self-confidence isn’t a fixed state. Instead, it’s an action based skill. It’s knowing you can succeed at something and trusting your own abilities. But you have to actively try new things, fail, and try again in order to strengthen it.

By choosing to stop acting when things looked hard, he unknowingly fulfilled his own fear that he wouldn’t be able to get the job he wanted.

Why You Need It

Believing that you can succeed is the catalyst to make you try

Having self-confidence will make you feel more secure in your ability to succeed, and willing to take positive risks because you know that with hard work you can master a new skill.

Tips to Be More Self-Confident

You can start becoming more self-confident right now

1. Know that if you put the work in, you can master whatever skill you are working on.

  1. Understand that failure leads to success. Don’t be worried about failing; worry about not even trying.

  2. Trust yourself. Don’t let past mistakes cloud your future decisions. Just because you made bad decisions in the past doesn’t mean you’ll keep making them. The past does not equal the present.

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