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The Confidence Equation

You’ve probably noticed how some people just have “it.”

  • They are cool under pressure.
  • They just walk in the room and seem comfortable.
  • They are smart and capable, asking the right questions and giving the right answers yet, they also have no problem saying that they don’t know.

What is this sorcery?! How do they do it? How can they be so confident?

Today, let’s explore confidence.


Let’s begin by looking at where people think confidence comes from.

Often a lack of confidence will come from a feeling of insecurity in our knowledge, skills, or worth. Therefore, we often assume that people who are confident know the answers, and are so good at something that they cease to question it.

But we’ve all met people who are brilliant or remarkably skilled, yet still painfully insecure. Just like we’ve all met some people who are about as smart a family-size bag of cool ranch Doritos yet carry themselves with the unearned confidence of a Super Bowl winning QB.

The fact is that confidence has little to do with actual knowledge or skill.

Perhaps it’s innate? Could it be something you just have or don’t have? Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s Maybelline?


There are a few different things that can look like confidence but are actually something else in disguise.

Arrogance is often mistaken for confidence. Let’s me show you how to spot the difference:

  • Arrogance is based in superiority, it’s about one’s self in relation to others.
  • Confidence is about being assured in one’s self, regardless of others.

This is why one makes us feel bad, while the other inspires us and draws us in closer. Both look like people who are ready to move forward, but only one is comfortable enough to bring others along.

Arrogance is often a disguise for something antithetical to true confidence: insecurity.

Many who boast, brag, and demean others to assert their dominance do so to mask deep feelings of mediocrity, and so they tear others down instead of building themselves up. Their goal isn’t to be better, just better than someone else.

However, there is a key that opens the door to confidence and shuts the door to arrogance behind you: courage.

How to Build Courageous Confidence

Sometimes, my 3 year old daughter feels scared. Sometimes this happens when I drop her off at school in the morning. When she feels scared, I ask her this question:

“Where is your courage?”

She then taps on her chest and we practice bringing her courage out to confront her fears.

Courage, as I understand it, is different from bravery, though they are often used interchangeably. However, the distinction is important.

Bravery is to proceed without fear. Courage, is to proceed in spite of fear.

If you really want to build confidence, it begins with courage. You have to acknowledge your fears of mediocrity, your insecurities, and your nightmare scenarios about embarrassment. You have to confront it, and then make the conscious choice to do it anyway.

Courage, is the precursor to confidence. Because here’s the dirty secret about confidence, the fear never goes away, you just learn to make peace with it.

Now, if you’re feeling courageous, let’s learn the four R’s of building confidence.


It’s time to do some deep introspection.

  • Make a list of everything you know you’re good at — your superpowers
  • Make a list of everything you want to be good at — your potential
  • Make a list of everything you’ll never be good at — your kryptonite
  • Think about all of the times you’ve won

You need to understand and accept these facets of you, rather than resisting them. Once you’ve done this reflection, you can graduate to the next step.


Confident people acknowledge their strengths AND their weaknesses. Start by being honest with the people you feel most comfortable with. Play in a safe space by being honest and candid about strengths and weaknesses.

You will soon find that it’s much easier to be confident when you have nothing to hide. Keeping up the illusion for others does nothing to benefit either of you.

But, sometimes, you’re going to have to play outside of your comfort zone. So, how can you stay confident when you feel weak?


The ability to look at a situation from multiple vantage points is an invaluable skill and one that might be exclusive to humans. As a result, we can take the same situation and change its meaning and context almost instantly through reframing.

One super useful reframe, that I use, is the one about cold showers. Cold showers can be uncomfortable, but a strange thing happens after a few moments, you get used to it and it ceases to be as uncomfortable. Even when it remains uncomfortable and you must to endure it, you realize afterwards that despite the discomfort, it didn’t kill you, it just kinda sucked. Cold showers is a good mental reframe for when you just need to say “screw it” and hop in to get it over with.

Another useful one is to reframe anxiety as excitement since the physical manifestation of both emotions feel remarkably similar.

You can also try the Alter-Ego technique.

This is where you create a new identity for yourself with a new name that you step into for high stakes situations. This is similar to an actor playing a part. The only difference is, that for this technique, you’re not going to be anything you’re not. Think of it more like a mixer where you are tuning the levels on different aspects of your personality.

close up photo of audio mixer

You might turn brevity, curiosity, and smiling up, and turn down nervous fidgeting, interruptions, and profanity. Once you give these settings on your mixer a name, you can call forth this version of yourself whenever you need.

Finally, there’s one more reframe I’d like to offer you.

Life is insultingly short, and you don’t have a lot time to waste. Do the thing. Move forward and share your gifts. Step up and be a leader because we need you.

Now, the last R might be one of the most profoundly applicable parts of the confidence equation.


Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.

Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.

-Steve Jobs

No one has it all together, it’s just an illusion. Those who pretend they do, are selling you a bag of magic beans.

So, knowing that, why not take the risk, believe in yourself, and do the things you’ve wanted to?

Go forth, be confident, there’s no reason not to.

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