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We’ve all had those situations that take us out of our comfort zone. Our heart starts to beat a bit faster. Our breathing gets shallow, and we may even begin to sweat.

Those circumstances where deep inside something is telling us to be alert.  We sense we aren’t confident.

Gaining confidence is something that can be learned and cultivated. Confidence comes from a feeling of well-being and an acceptance of who we are and in our ability right now. As we continue to develop and grow, it’s natural for our confidence to ebb and flow.

Here are practical ways to build confidence:

See Challenges as Opportunities It’s normal to be apprehensive in new situations. When the glass seems half full, solutions are limited. Acknowledge the change. Try to reframe the situation as an opportunity to learn and contribute differently.

Create a Sense of Purpose – Identify the reason for taking on the challenge in the first place. Knowing what we want to accomplish and why it’s important can inspire us to move forward.

Gain Knowledge and Understanding – Take an inventory of the facts to gain knowledge of the circumstance. What’s known and what’s unclear? Identify personal strengths and potential areas of vulnerabilities. Knowing our capabilities helps determine the resources and support needed to bring our best.

Plan and Prepare –One of my favorite quotes is “If you fail to plan, you plan for failure.” A plan provides an anchor and blueprint from which to pivot. As new information presents itself, we can make mid-course corrections.

Think and Act Positively – When we question our abilities there is an inclination for negative thoughts. Shifting the internal talk can be hard for many people.

When presented with challenges, a confident leader coaches themselves and provides balanced feedback. From positive thoughts come positive actions.  How we breathe and carry ourselves can shift our emotions, our internal talk, and our actions.

Harvard Business School Professor Amy Cuddy has shown posture has a direct correlation with building confidence. Amy’s research suggests assuming a power pose and “faking it until you become it” to get started. Thinking, acting and dressing the part can have a positive effect in building confidence.

Take Action – Often I see people paralyzed, waiting to take big steps when a few smaller steps could lead to more actions. Smaller actions are easy to get started and give an early indication that we are on or off track.

As a child, my mom would say, “if at first, you don’t succeed, try again.” It means shedding the need for perfection and doing something. Expect to make a few mistakes. The actions will provide feedback and insights from which to make an adjustment.

Don’t let the fear of failure paralyze or step in the way. Get prepared to “Fall down seven times, and get up eight.”

Seek input and feedback – Chances are others have tread this path before. Seek insights from others. People will be flattered to be asked. Listen to all the ideas to make an informed decision.

Celebrate Early and Often – Whenever, I suggest people celebrate early successes, I hear all kinds of reasons why to wait. Build confidence by celebrating the small actions along the way. With each success come others. Want to build confidence? Stop waiting for the end result and start celebrating smaller milestones.

The next time you start to doubt your abilities, use these points as a guide to step into the role with confidence.



Are you entering a new role and want to boost your confidence?

Lead the change into a new assignment using tips and tools from The Executive Transition Playbook: Strategies for Starting Strong. Staying Focused, and Succeeding in Your New Leadership Role. Available on Amazon.

As a leadership strategist, I help senior leaders navigate today’s intensively competitive business world with success. Learn more about me at