Confidence. It’s something we all aspire to have, but with people still saying things like “fake it until you make it,” it’s easy to end up feeling like an imposter and appearing intolerably arrogant.
In my younger days, I was guilty of following this all too popular bumper-sticker-like advice.
It wasn’t pretty. I cringe to think of how insufferable I probably was in my early twenties.
But we live and learn.
The truth is, real confidence has little to do with arrogance. One whispers while the other screams.
So, how can we foster true confidence in our own lives?
As with many things, it’s all about habits. Today, we cover five of those who are naturally confident.
You may not have been born with unwavering self-assurance, but fostering these behaviors in your own life can help you to develop it.
Maybe you have all of them already.
Let’s find out.
1) They listen more than they speak
Be it because of social media, movies, or something else, we often associate confidence with dominating conversations, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Yes, confident people do not fear speaking up; when needed, they do. However, in most cases, this is unnecessary.
Because they have genuine confidence, they don’t feel the need to prove themselves to anyone, so they sit back and listen.
They follow Mark Twain’s thinking in this respect:
“If we were meant to talk more than listen, we would have two mouths and one ear.”
Because they never feel the need to take over conversations, rarely are they seen as arrogant. They are more like the strong, silent type.
More than that, as a result of actually listening, they learn. This helps them be more informed and, you guessed it, make more confident points when they do speak.
2) They view failure as a stepping stone
We all fail. But it’s how we handle it that differs.
Even the most successful people in the world have failed. How many publishers rejected Harry Potter before the novel literally changed the world of literature?
Did J. K. Rowling give up after one or two rejections?
Nope, obviously not.
But that’s what most of us would do. We would resign ourselves to the fact that we must not be good enough and call it quits.
Arrogant people would spend their time coming up with other people and circumstances to blame.
Not confident people, however. They see failure as a stepping stone. They know that it’s just part of the journey.
Stories like that of J.K. Rowling are littered throughout history.
Thomas Edison, for example, famously said:
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
If that’s not the definition of seeing failure as a stepping stone, I don’t know what is.
Similarly, Steve Jobs was fired from his own company, but he didn’t quit. He created Pixar and eventually returned to Apple, making it the success it is today.
There are many things at play in these stories, but confidence is a big one.
How many authors, inventors, and innovators has the world been deprived of because they believed failure to be final?
…because they didn’t have the confidence in themselves to get back up and keep on fighting?
Too many, I’d bet.
This next habit might seem a little counterintuitive, but when we break it down, it makes a lot of sense.
3) They embrace vulnerability
We don’t often associate being vulnerable with confidence, but there is a connection.
Now, I am not suggesting that confident people constantly ask for reassurance and overshare with anyone and everyone.
What they are not afraid to do, however, is recognize their flaws and past failures. This is quite the opposite of arrogant folks who will go to great lengths to appear strong at all times.
Confident people are not afraid of what others think and, therefore, feel comfortable being vulnerable.
They know they are not inadequate and have no fear of being so. They are secure enough in themselves to be transparent.
The next one is a big one and could be the game-changer you need to foster real confidence in your life.
4) They compare themselves to themselves
One of my biggest takeaways from Dr. Jordan Peterson’s bestseller, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, was rule number four:
“Compare yourself to who you were yesterday.”
While Peterson is a polarizing figure, it’s hard to argue with this advice. It really struck a chord with me, at least.
Of course, we all know this deep down. I knew it before I read the book, but it was invaluable to dive deeper into this in the chapter he dedicated to it.
Anyway, what does this have to do with naturally confident people?
Well, in short, they do just that.
They know that comparing themselves to others is a fruitless pursuit.
Someone will always be better at something. Someone will always have a bigger house. A better job. A better sense of humor.
Comparing ourselves to others has become easier and easier due to technology, but it’s a recipe for discontentment and insecurity.
Sure, using others for inspiration is great, but the only oranges-to-oranges comparison we can really make is ourselves to past selves.
Naturally-confident people don’t ask themselves if they are better or worse than others. They ask themselves if they are better than themselves yesterday, or last week, or last month.
We all should.
5) They accept constructive criticism with open arms
Negative feedback can be hard to accept, to say the least.
Most of us take it on board and try to see its value, but it can’t be denied that it does dent our ego a little.
Others reject it completely, become highly defensive, and cannot admit their shortcomings.
The naturally confident among us, however, do neither of these things.
They appreciate it, take it on board, and use it to get better. Knowingly or not, follow the advice Socrates gave us:
“Think not those faithful who praise all thy words and actions; but those who kindly reprove thy faults.”
They acknowledge when they might be able to do better, but they don’t let it get them down.
The bottom line
True confidence isn’t about puffing up your chest, drowning others out, or constantly seeking the limelight. And it’s certainly not about proving we are doing better than others or never making a mistake.
It’s a quiet, powerful assurance that allows us to be authentic. This shines through for others to see.
These five habits, practiced diligently, can guide anyone towards a path of authentic self-assuredness.
Remember, it’s not about appearing confident to the world but feeling confident within yourself.
As always, I hope this post was enjoyable to read and gave you some food for thought.
Until next time.