post written by: Marc Chernoff

7 Unconventional Ways to Build Your Confidence

7 Unconventional Ways to Build Your Confidence

If you were able to maintain a level of self-confidence that no circumstance could shake, what would you be doing differently?  Just imagine the things you would accomplish if you were confident that you COULD.

This kind of confidence comes from positive self-imaging, and it is something that you can proactively build for yourself.  It doesn’t happen while you wait passively.  When you leave it up to external factors, you build your self-confidence on sandy ground.  What you need is a rock-solid foundation, and this only comes from building it from within.

Plenty has been written about building self-confidence – creating a plan, setting goals, finding the right mentor, etc. – but today we’re going to take a look at seven ways that are not as widely discussed:

1.  Take chances that make you feel uncomfortable.

The moment you doubt whether you can do something, you cease forever to be able to do it.  Don’t be afraid to feel uncomfortable.  Don’t be afraid to look uneasy and a little silly in front of others.

Running around in your underwear isn’t the solution we’re talking about here, although I’m sure that would feel uncomfortable and look pretty silly.  What we are talking about is growing your inner strength and building your confidence by occasionally putting yourself in situations where you are forced to overcome new and unknown obstacles.

It’s all about your commitment to learning, adapting and growing.  Decide that your visions and goals are more important than your self-imposed limitations.  Dare to try.  Step outside of your comfort zone.  Believe you can and you’re halfway there.  (Read Daring Greatly.)

2.  Fail fast and fail often.

You must encounter many defeats to learn how to not be defeated.  Failing is a process of learning; it helps you grow and know who you are, what you can rise from, and how you can still rise after you fall.  It is this process that boosts your confidence gradually over the course of your lifetime.

You have to remember that it doesn’t matter how many times you fail or how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop taking steps forward.  In the end, those who don’t care that failure is inevitable are the ones that most often achieve success.

3.  Be wrong and be OK with it.

You don’t have to always be right, you just have to not be too worried about being wrong.

Just like occasional failures, being wrong from time to time is inevitable.  People who take the position of always being right aren’t confident, they’re cocky.  They think they know everything and they want you to know it too.  Ironically, their need to always be right imprisons them from being able to learn from their mistakes.

To build true confidence, you have to not mind being wrong.  You have to take a stand, and then admit it if and when you realize your standpoint is wrong.  It’s a process of trial and error that helps you discover what IS right.  And finding out what is right is a lot more important than always being right.

Bottom line:  When you’re wrong, admit it and be secure enough to back down graciously, adjust and carry on.  (Read Carry On, Warrior.)

4.  Compliment others and help them smile.

The best part of life is not just surviving, but thriving with passion, compassion, humor, generosity and kindness, and using these tools to make the world a happier place.

When we think negatively about ourselves, we typically project these feelings on to others in the form of insults, gossip and incidental neglect.  To break this cycle of negativity, get in the habit of praising other people.  If someone looks nice, tell them.  If someone does a good job, applaud them.  Refuse to engage in backstabbing gossip and make an effort to compliment those around you.  In the process, you’ll help these people smile, which will help you feel good about yourself.

By looking for the best in others, you indirectly bring out the best in yourself.

5.  Laugh in the face of frustration.

The best medicine is a strong dose of laughter and letting go.

When things don’t go as planned, laughing or crying are often the only two options left, because they are both instinctive human responses to frustration.  Both are OK, but laughing usually feels better.

Sometimes a little self-invoked humor is all you need to lift your spirits and light the path forward.  Even in your darkest moments, strive to see the lighter side of a situation and crack a smile.  Doing so will help you think positively and reawaken your confidence about all the possibilities that still exist on the road ahead.

6.  Ignore what most people think of you.

How would your life be different if you stopped allowing people who don’t matter to poison your mind with their opinions?

Do you have 5K Facebook friends and 20K Twitter follows?  Good for you.  Do you have a professional and personal social network of hundreds or even thousands?  That’s great.  Just don’t forget that this massive network of acquaintances pales in comparison to the importance of earning and maintaining the trust and respect of the few people in your life who actually matter – your close family members and real friends.  When you earn the trust and respect of these special people, no matter where you go or what you attempt to do, you will do it with a sense of confidence, because you will know the people who truly matter are truly behind you.

Let today be the day you stand strong in the limelight of your own truth, without seeking needless external validation.  Accept no one’s definition of your life except your own, and seek approval only from the people who truly matter in your life.  (This is something Angel and I discuss in the Relationships and Self-Love chapters of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)

7.  Begin right NOW.

To resist at the beginning is always the easiest choice to make, and it’s also the only choice that guarantees you will never reach the end result you desire.

Too often we fall victim to our own waiting.  We feel we have to wait for just the right moment:  To be promoted, to be appointed, to be ready, to be somehow chosen by the powers above, as if there will suddenly be a moment when everything makes perfect sense and the road to our dreams is effortless.

But the truth is, it’s usually just a matter of thinking, “Why not me?  Why not now?”

Right now, in today’s digital, interconnected world, you have access to everything you need.  You can connect with almost anyone you need to know through social media.  You can build your own relationships and professional networks.  You can design and create your own portfolio and products.  You can use blogging and content marketing to attract attention, customers and funding.  You can choose your own path – you can choose to follow whatever course you wish.

Right now, without calling attention to yourself, you can begin to make things happen.  You can take a small step forward, and then another, and grow more capable and more confident with every new step you take.

Your turn…

Let’s revisit the question I opened this post with:  If you were able to maintain a level of self-confidence that no circumstance could shake, what would you be doing differently?

Also, what would you add to the list?  What has helped you build your confidence?  Please let us know by leaving a comment below.

Photo by: Akshay Moon

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  • I needed this today. At my young age I find my self so discouraged without anyone there to actually help me through anything I find these articles to be of relief. And happiness!

  • Superb post! I have been resisting myself from approaching stage. But Now I have decided to show my inner confidence. Thanks.

    I love these lines: “The best part of life is not just surviving, but thriving with passion, compassion, humor, generosity and kindness, and using these tools to make the world a happier place.”

  • A great post with unconventional ways of building self confidence. I liked the point - Fail fast and fail often. There is nothing like to keep trying in face of obstacles, facing our fears, falling and failing, but still getting up again and striving to reach our goals. This definitely build our confidence.

    Couple of other methods that have helped me is affirmations/auto-suggestions and visualization of an event.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • This post came at the perfect moment. I remembered who is important in my life, and how my opinion of me is perhaps the most important. Thank you…I feel so much better about my future.

  • Wonderful and insightful post, enough thoughts to ponder this morning. Thanks.

  • I really enjoyed this article because I feel like I am at a point where my only obstacle is me. The biggest thing that has helped build my confidence has been learning that while no one should judge you on your looks the power looking good can have on your overall thought process can be amazing.

  • Wonderful post. Thank u so much.

  • All good points, but sometimes when you keep failing with other people’s money/investments or making a crap product as part of your learning, it tends to ruin your rep… and your own personal honor. It’s necessary but tough.

  • Marc and Angel

    My best friend recommended that I join your site and begin reading your blogs. I have faced many, many difficult situations in my life and still have challenges ahead of me. Your posts are a must read for me everyday. It’s the #1 thing I read everyday. I must thank you both for your wisdom and superb posts. I am sure for many, you have helped them make small changes to significant ones. I salute you for caring and sharing.

  • This is by far my favorite and most helpful post yet on this site yet.

    I am learning a new business that many people my age may hesitate to attempt. I feel energized and more confident than ever before. Each success feels so much bigger because I stepped past my doubts and fears. Even if it takes me longer than others I am moving in a positive forward direction. I don’t concern myself with doubters. Thomas Edison never thought of his experiments as failures. He thought of them as discoveries that got him that much closer to success. Finding the humor in my frustrations definitely helps! I love this post. Thank you so much for sharing yourself with us.

  • How timely this post is. This morning, I had decided that I was going to be myself when I respond to other people. Texting and emailing I have found myself modifying what I say and even modelling myself on how that person was being and responding to them in their style. So, for example, if someone was short and curt to me, I would be that back to them because they had hurt my feelings by their communication style and I made it mean all kinds of things…

    So, how this has shown up to for me this week is in my response to a short informational email I got from a guy I really like with not even a “Hi” or anything other than the information I requested. First Reaction: “How cold and unfeeling.” Then, I thought “Wow, he has taken time out of his busy time with his daughter to email me the info I requested.” My initial reaction was not to thank him but then I got to thinking - “that’s not me, I always thank people.” So, I sent a thank you and made a little joke (that’s also me). Really, what this is all about is me just being authentically myself rather than trying to protect myself. And, here’s where that wonderful paradox comes in - rather than this making me feel vulnerable, I find it empowering.

    Making those choices upfront…wow! I’m online dating and a guy texted me asking for a date but I found something he said distasteful, I told him so and he apologized but I still said “No thanks” to the date. I pictured myself meeting this guy and it felt totally yukky!! Saying “No, thanks” was totally empowering and I actually took heed of a red flag!!

  • heather poirier
    June 28th, 2013 at 8:29 am

    So wonderful to read and stir the mind to thoughtful questions. Wish the people that DO count I my life would say hurtful things. I have enough of the others.

  • Insightful words to ponder, as always. Thanks for continuing to start my days with positive wisdom that boosts my confidence and mood.

  • Great post!

    I would add that if and when you “stick your foot in your mouth,” or accidentally offend someone, apologize and move forward with your life. I like to say, “This too shall pass.”

    I just experienced the “foot in mouth” scenario. A comment I posted in response to a question that was posted in one my groups offended someone. I meant no offense as I was just adding to the conversation. However, I’m grateful for this lesson for a couple of reasons:

    1) I now know that I cannot and will not have a ‘laugh’ with this person because I don’t want to ‘offend’ her, again. If I have to have a conversation with her, I’ll stick with topics such as the weather. :)

    2) I had the confidence to say, “I apologize if I offended you. It was not my intention.”

    3) I’ll hit the ‘pause’ button and make sure I want to post something.

    4) I can be sensitive to others, but I can’t anticipate if something I say or do will offend everyone or just one person. I’m responsible for me, my thoughts, actions, beliefs, etc.

    Lessons learned!

  • Indeed, Winters do come - you Better be prepared. I can’t agree more. Often we need to reach the ground before we jump. Well, why not.. life is like advanture. Let’s take it as ups and downs. I know it’s hard sometimes but hey… at least it’s not bored ;)

  • Marc, thanks very much for publishing this post; it surely helps young people like me.

    What has helped me in boosting my confidence is not caring about what other people think of me, because through this blog I have come to learn to love myself (i.e my strengths, ideas, beauty, acceptance of my weaknesses etc.) and also being myself. I would try and use your sound advice as a guard and a foundation for the way i live my life…but Marc, I would like to inquire from you whether in the near future your audio and ebooks would be available in book stores, libraries or malls?

  • Thank you for another insightful post! I always lean on the gift of giving towards others as a way to boost my confidence. Be it a prayer, volunteering, or simply helping someone in need, unselfishness is the shortest way to building self-esteem!

  • I really enjoyed this post. I am on vacation and am considering going jet-skiing ( I have never done this before ) I am definitely going!! Time to test that confidence.

  • I always find your posts inspiring and timely. Being betrayed, rejected and abandoned by my husband has been the worst and the best thing has ever happened to me. The initial shock of discovering the broken, angry man he’d spent years hiding led me to be honest and admit there were numerous red flags. I didn’t ignore the red flags. I asked questions but my mistake was in accepting answers that didn’t make sense and not probing…

    Now this man has left me and my children and I view this as a blessing. Even though there are many questions in my life right now, I get to seek the answers that are satisfying for us and it’s exciting.

    As he moves on to the distraction of another relationship he has shown the person he truly is and has freed us from the prison he imposed on all of us. There is confidence in being able to escape from someone else’s pain. Even my 7 year old says our feels happier.

    I wish him peace and meditate on this everyday. The pain he inflicted has bloomed into something quite wonderful.

  • This is by far one of my favorites!! I read your messages everyday but this one moved me beyond my self-imposed prison of not only waiting for the right moment but also being confident that I could build a successful product for my own company. I will start right now as I have everything that I need.

    Thank you for pouring such positive light and love into myself and others. May your lives be blessed and filled with great joy and peace. Keep up the good work Lightworkers!!

  • As a health coach, I’ve learned that taking baby steps can also build your confidence. While I agree that failing fast and often is necessary, it is also necessary to balance that with accomplishing something that you said you would do. The best way to do this is to take teeny tiny baby steps. In this way, you reach each of those goals, teaching yourself that yes, you can do what you say you will do. Then, this continues to build and soon you are taking a little bit bigger steps and then bigger steps yet and each of those steps increases your confidence. Thanks for a great post!

  • Love this! Much need advice thanks!

  • It has been so most often in my lifetime to be bonded by others’ opinions as the best regard is the worst subjective duty that I could never repeated,from this site I have learned that being ever right is cocky and being doing things in the way you feel whether wrong or right base on your confident is trial and error that could let me to discovery facts of my life rather than following people advises.

  • I have spent the better part of the last 2 years reading your blog which I heard of through a friend. Not only has it really helped me through some tough situations, but it has also taught me a great deal about who I am and where I want to be going in the future.

    You probably get this a lot but really, Thank you so much for all the thought and effort that goes into each and every post. It really brightens my days :)

    Keep up the good work !

  • This is great! I love the point on fail fast and fail often.

    Yes, this can erode your confidence at first. But if you stick with it, you’ll gradually build a new sense of confidence. A confidence based on the knowledge that you can survive even the worst failures.

    Another good way to build your confidence I’ve found is to accept that you’re a work-in-progress. Sometimes, we lose confidence in ourselves when we think we’re not good enough. However, if we accept that there’s still much to learn and we don’t need to be perfect, that can help us feel a lot better about ourselves.

  • Honestly, if had a more unshakable confidence, I would take my side business full-time. It’s profitable enough, but I’m still nervous about growth and being fully in charge of my own destiny. It’s crazy - what I want scares me.

    Great post though. Give me plenty of motivation and food for thought.

  • Thankyou guys for the good work you’re doing. Its more than amazing.

  • A couple of years ago at the age of 58 I wrote a funny rap song and was asked to perform this as well as stand up comedy. Never performed in front of an audience and maybe never will again, nervous and scared at the time, but well worth doing. If I have a challenge then just look back to that and continue to defy age, love life, live it.

    Great site, always good to read great news.

  • My son and I play a lot of Angry Birds. He never gets frustrated, ever. I asked him why, and he said “I am still little and have a lot to learn. I am just trying to have fun.” Watch children play a game they hardly ever get frustrated, unless its with each other.

    Failure maybe is the next best thing to success.

    Confidence building to me means that you sometimes have to turn things around in your ahead. Mistakes do not equal failures. Success does not equal winning. Confidence is trying again despite the success or failure of the previous attempt. Usain Bolt could have shattered the world record in the 100 meters in 2008, but he slowed down once he knew he won the gold. So was he successful or did he fail, or both, or neither? It did not shake his confidence no matter what you choose.

    I’d love to have the confidence to write and teach full-time

  • Great lines. I also learned in my life not to compare myself with others. Just look in front of you and try to reach your goals.

    Don’t let people to put you down and be happy in your journey towards your goal :)

  • That was just fabulous! Very inspiring and true. Thanks for giving people the tips they need so constantly!

  • David Rapp, you DO write and teach. I look forward to your posts here.

  • The biggest thing that helped me with my confidence was #1 on your list…doing things that I feared. I started getting into a habit of facing my fears, until it became so normal to me that it is second nature now. I started skydiving, got licensed in it, have gone backpacking, rock climbing…looking for new fears to face every day.

    I’m always scared when I first start doing these things, but the feeling I get afterward is priceless. I have respect for anyone who has the balls to jump out of a plane, or rappel down a waterfall, or any of the extreme things that I do. As a result I have more respect for myself, because I realize what I did and just how much strength it took to get there. It in turn moves to other areas of my life and gives me confidence to try other things, and they don’t seem so scary anymore.

  • I talk about confidence targets in my book “Get ER Done - The green Beret Guide to Productivity.” When we trained people in the Army you don’t want them to go after hard targets immediately after training. You give them easy targets to give them confidence in themselves and their training. You gradually give them bigger and bigger targets until they have the confidence they need.

    You can do this for yourself. When developing a new skill, let’s say tennis, find opponents at your level or even less. Don’t play the ones who have been playing for years, you will get discouraged. Same with other skills and goals. Work on developing your confidence.

    Hope this helps.

  • I needed to read this today, I have a small fashion business that I am building; some days I just think I’m not good enough, no one wants my products. Then I’ll get a run of sales or praise and think I can conquer the world. If only I had a solid constant belief in myself I know I could make the dream a reality. I need to read and re-read this post so it really sinks in and get it happening!!! Thank you so much.

  • Hey Marc and Angel, thanks for this article.
    What it raises in my mind is that doubt is the biggest killer. My husband Aaron and I made a pact to never live in fear, and we commit every day to living in alignment with this promise to ourselves and each other. Fear to us underlies a lot of the things you mention in this great blog - fear of what others thought of us, fear of failing, fear of getting things wrong. The hilarious thing is that for me it was another type of fear that actually promoted me to start living differently, and which keeps me committed to my dreams - fear of not living the life I know I’m truly capable of!
    I love your tips for building confidence, because it’s so true… we build confidence by being willing to risk, being willing to fail, being willing to be truly seen as being ourselves and giving life our all.
    Thank you so much.
    Bernadette :)

  • This is a really great article, I especially like no. 4 about making others smile by complimenting them. Funnily enough I started doing this when I worked in sales as I was taught that by opening customers up through compliments goes a lot further than anything else. I started doing this in everyday life with my friends and the impact it has on not only them but on your own self-confidence and energetic vibrations is astounding. You keep doing this everyday and your are going to feel like an enlightened angel by the end of the week!

  • Thank u so much for this post.. It was the right prescription for me. Reading this article gave my failing and falling confidence a super boost. I want to read this many more times,so that these words wil always ring inside me and make me a better and brighter person. Just as I was feeling so lost and washed away…I was desperately trying to pep myself up..AND..I get this mail… I felt like as though I found a huge boulder to hang on to..,for survival.. Thank u again..!!

  • This article is great! Really enjoyable read. It’s put a smile on my face and I am going to put this in practice. One of my favourite actually. The one about failing really hit home. I think at times I aim to be a perfectionist but failing isn’t so bad as long as you get yourself back up. Thanks Marc and Angel x

  • Great post…One thing that I used to do is apply for jobs waaay out of my league. It’s fun and you never know what will happen:)

  • I’m greatly thankful to you for life changing thoughts. the moment i feel upset i just start reading one of your posts and feel calm at mind…… thanx a lot.

  • I have a high degree of self confidence that many people take as arrogance. (Who does he think he is to have self confidence when I don’t have any?)

    I developed it early on because I was brutalalized by a sadistic father during my childhood. I was often bullied by kids at school because I was afraid of getting hurt. Then a kid squirted chocolate milk all
    over my white dress shirt and I cracked. I pounced on him and started to beat him. This was in Catholic high school where they allow you to fight in the gym with boxing gloves on. The coach stopped us and took us to the gym. I beat the crap out of the kid, not because I was a good boxer but all the rage came boiling out of me. Then another kid wanted to fight me and I beat the crap out of him. It was empowering and I realized that I would never again fear any man.

    Then I set out to achieve some goals. For example, I paddled out into a hurricane to go surfing in 20 foot waves with the winds that had died down from 140 mph down to a (MERE) 90 mph. It was the greatest day of my life, man against nature and on that day man won.

    The next year upon graduating, I took off for the whole summer on my motorcycle for a summer long cruise around the country. While doing that I went to the Washington monument and decided on a lark to see if I could run all the way up the stairs without stopping. I did and my self confidence soared and I have been challenging myself ever since.

    John Wilder

  • This blog post is pure genius. That is all.

  • This is so good! I think I would be a much happier, stronger person. I would definitely go for more social gatherings, and speak up more, and more confidently, for example, if I had unshakable confidence.

  • @Pat: Thank you! We’re all in this together. =)

    @Gillian: All you have to do is be yourself and your confidence grows. Great example, thank you for sharing your story.

    @Wisdom: You are absolutely right, when you require no approval from outside yourself, your confidence soars. We are coming out with a paperback version of the book. E-mail ‘angel at’ for more information.

    @Karim: I couldn’t agree more.

    @Sandra Hamlett: The best medicine is a strong dose of laughter and letting go. Congratulations! =)

    @Kari Kilen: Taking action is the common thread but celebrating successes, regardless of the size absolutely increases confidence. I sometimes put items on my to-do list that I know I can accomplish within the next 10 minutes just to get the excitement and momentum of completing tasks. =)

    @Jeff Ray: Your comment reminded me of this quote by Joseph Campbell: “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”

    @Mike Martel: Great point, thank you!

    @John Wilder: Interesting personal stories on building your confidence. Thank you for sharing.

    @All: After reading all of your confidence-building comments I feel like I could take over the world – or at least the world my goals live in. Seriously! Thank you for the positivity and continued support.

    Who’s with me? Let make today count! =)

  • If you were able to maintain a level of self-confidence that no circumstance could shake, what would you be doing differently?
    I would offer suggestions to improve the quality of life, programs, and/or organizations while fearing rejection.
    I would attend more board meetings that make decisions about the education of students with disabilities and set up funds to help support these students through high school.
    I would laugh out loud at every critical or hurtful comment made because they have obviously been misinformed, and I’ll follow the laughter with a life that radiants beauty.

  • Lovely article with a lot of practicality.

  • I would not allow my sister to belittle me and make me second-guess myself and all those I hold dear.

  • I needed #7 just now! I’m on the doorstep of launching my new business (tomorrow) and find that I’ve saved all the stuff I’m not so good at till the very last minute (promotion, press releases, etc.). So #7 reminded me to do it NOW! :-)

  • A liberating footnote to #6 (Ignore what most people think of you)
    Our assumptions about what other people think are often wrong … and always incomplete.

  • Great post thanks. It was very timely and resonates well with some quotes I just highlighted in the book “How Successful People Think” by John Maxwell:

    “People who believe they can’t, don’t. But if you believe you can, you can!”

    “Some men see things as they are and say, “Why?’ I dream of things that never were and say, ‘Why not?’”

  • This article was awesome - really lifted up my spirit. But the thing that gets me low is the negative people around me (my own family). They are very ignorant of things and do not appreciate growth, which makes it difficult. The real difficulty in life is when people around you start feeling inferior when they see you rising. They don’t like change, which creates a very stagnant atmosphere at home. Just felt like sharing my feelings.

  • Self confidence is one important way to get success in life. Your given tips are helpful. Will come again to read more. Thanks for sharing.

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