How to Develop True Confidence

Confidence is a powerful tool, but it isn’t always the most reliable. What’s more important are actionable steps to develop true confidence in your goals and skills.

“What is real confidence?” is a question that many people have. Confidence can be developed through practice, learning and gaining experience. Read more in detail here: what is real confidence.

Vintage soldier with confidence swag collar upturned smirk on face.

Retired Navy SEAL Eric Greitens discusses letters he sent to a fellow soldier, Walker, who was having problems adapting to life back home in his book, Resilience. In one of the letters, he tells his pal about a phone call he had got from a boxing instructor he knew. A heavyweight champion whom the coach had trained was on the other end of the line. The exchange went like this, according to Greitens:

“Hey guy,” the champion said, “I’m in need of your assistance.”

“All right,” the coach responded. “Can you tell me what you require?”

“I’d want you to look after something for me.”

“Can you tell me what you want me to do?”

“Well, there’s this person in the other room,” the champ said, “and I’m going to take the phone in and ask you to speak to him.”

“Who do you want me to speak with?”

“He’s my gardener,” says the narrator.

“Do you have a gardener?”

“He’s in the next room, he’s got this bill, and he’s trying to overcharge me,” she says.

“At this point, the trainer recognized that the heavyweight champion of the world was hesitant to face his gardener about a bill,” Greitens recalls.

How could a tough-as-nails fighter who has faced off against some of boxing’s toughest foes be unable to stand up to his gardener?

“Everyone, Walker, has inconsistent bravery,” Greitens says to his companion.

We may call what he calls bravery confidence.

This narrative is likely to strike you as both relatable and shocking at the same time. We all know that although we are confident in certain aspects of life, we are terrified in others. Surprising, given that confidence is often seen as a universal attribute — we believe that you either have it or you don’t, and that if you have, you have it for everything.

That isn’t the only area of confidence about which we have misconceptions. The majority of us have no idea how you get it. Is it something you inherit from your parents? Something you can only acquire by standing up taller and wearing nicer, for example? Are there distinct types of self-assurance? If that’s the case, how can you cultivate it in its purest form?

Confidence seems to be an enigma for many people. It doesn’t have to be that way, however. We’ll reveal its secrets in the sections below.

What Is Confidence, Exactly?

Confidence is a phrase that may be interpreted in a variety of ways to indicate a variety of things. It’s often lumped in with other traits like self-esteem and optimism, with which it has a lot in common.

Confidence, on the other hand, is a separate attribute that specialists and scientists who research it professionally describe as the feeling that you have the talent and competence to do a job effectively – it’s having trust in your capacity to make something happen or in the route you’re on. It’s a belief that specific actions will lead to specific outcomes — that if you do X, you’ll be able to get Y. It’s not just feeling good about yourself or believing that things will work out in life; it’s a belief that specific actions will lead to specific outcomes — that if you do X, you’ll be able to get Y. It’s because you think you have the capacity to perform well that you feel confident heading into a race. When you’re certain about a decision, it’s because you think you’ve made the best option possible.


As a result, it’s easy to overlook the fact that confidence is “domain specific.” That is, just because you have faith in your capacity to achieve in one area does not indicate you have faith in your ability to succeed in other areas. When speaking in front of big groups, you may be confident, but when making small chat one-on-one, you may be nervous. When you’re working on your art, you could be confident, but when you go into a gym, you might be anxious.

We all have “uneven confidence” since confidence is the conviction that your skill fits a certain activity, yet we don’t all have equal ability for every work.

Calculate Your Confidence

There is an objective/rational component to confidence, as well as a subjective/emotional component.

The brain does a statistical evaluation of sorts when estimating how well we’ll accomplish something or whether we made a decent choice, according to research. It examines the facts — proof of our expertise, environment, and so on — and then produces a prediction about anticipated performance or result.

Every day, we do these kind of computations. In the morning, you don’t even have to think about reaching into a cupboard to get your coffee mug since your brain knows it will be there. The reaction of your manager to your request for a raise is an even larger mystery. Your brain, on the other hand, will analyze the facts — the feedback he gave you at your previous review, the quality of the job you’ve been producing recently, the company’s profit trend — and make a prediction about your odds of obtaining a yes.

We then obtain the sensation of confidence from this objective calculation. If the confidence calculator predicts a bleak future, we’ll feel uneasy and hesitant, and we’ll be less willing to take action, make a choice, or attempt anything new or difficult. We’ll feel confident and courageous if the outlook is sunny, and we’ll be more willing to take a risk, make a decision, or try a challenging activity.

To put it another way, ideas lead to judgements, which lead to emotions, which lead to actions (or inaction). The more certain you are in your ability to do a task, the more confident you will feel, and the more confident you will feel, the more action you will take.

This has clear implications for our happiness, success, and capacity to achieve our objectives. In order to advance in any aspect of life, we must go outside of our comfort zone and take a risk. Without confidence, we will be unable to take action, and our lives will stagnate rather than advance.

It’s critical to understand what factors impact the brain’s “algorithm” for calculating confidence, and how we may feed it more positive facts to produce more confident sentiments, and hence more courageous and life-changing action.

The sources of information for the confidence calculator may be divided into three categories: The first two we depend on often (sometimes without even realizing it), yet they are inconsistent, unreliable, and beyond our control. As we’ll see, the third option is the safest, most reliable, and most controllable technique to boost our self-assurance.


Sources of Confidence That Are Inconsistent/Unreliable


You were correct if you believed that some individuals are born with greater confidence than others. Our overall levels of confidence are thought to be 50% genetic in origin, according to researchers. Some people just have a combination of resilient, optimistic, and adventurous DNA that combines to give them an unwavering sense of self-assurance.

These genetics may cause their brain’s confidence calculator to become miscalibrated, resulting in less than objective ability judgments. These people become overconfident, more confident than they should be in their ability to do jobs for which they are not completely competent. Despite their lack of expertise, they are self-assured.

You may assume that this is a prescription for catastrophe, but studies have shown that as long as someone doesn’t go too far out in front of his skis, overconfidence can lead to beneficial outcomes such as increased social standing, respect, and influence, with no negative repercussions.

In fact, some researchers believe that a little arrogance is an adaptive feature. It makes someone an action taker, which is a desirable attribute as long as they don’t go completely off the rails; we prefer charismatic go-getters, even if they make a lot of mistakes, to those who passively play it safe.

How many ding-dongs at work who don’t know what they’re doing but exude strong confidence are promoted over competent colleagues who seem less confident? How many self-assured politicians get enormous support during an election but seem woefully unfit for office? When the gap between confidence and competence becomes too great, and the emperor is exposed to be naked, overconfidence becomes a problem. Aside from that, it’s a blessing.

Confidence without having to earn it may seem to be a successful strategy, but if you didn’t win the genetic lottery, it’s a feeling that’s practically hard to achieve on your own. People don’t mind overconfidence in someone who has a miscalibrated confidence calculator because it’s real; it may not be correct objectively, but the person truly believes in their talents, and that’s appealing. If you have a more realistic confidence calculator, it will be almost hard to instill confidence in the absence of ability; false bravado may be detected from a mile away.

You can’t simply think your way into more confidence if you’re not genetically predisposed to it. In fact, attempting to do so may be hazardous. People with poor self-esteem who were encouraged to repeat the mantra “I am a lovely person” felt worse, not better, following the exercise, according to a research. The disparity between how they felt and what they were reading only served to highlight how distant they were from that ideal.

Validation from the outside

Getting reinforcement and encouragement from others is another source of confidence for both the genetically favored and the ordinary joe. Pep chats, glowing performance reports, applause, high grades, Instagram likes, and other affirming words and actions may make us feel fantastic about ourselves.


That has nothing intrinsically wrong with it. Compliments activate status-sensitive areas of our brain, releasing feel-good neurochemicals that make us feel elated and empowered. And this surge may create a vicious cycle of increasing confidence: you start lifting, one of the strongest guys at the gym compliments your gains, which boosts your confidence and motivates you to push yourself even harder, which earns you more compliments and boosts your confidence even more.

While external validation may be beneficial in increasing your confidence and motivating you to keep going, it’s a fickle source for three reasons:

For starters, it often boosts your self-esteem rather than your confidence. Keep in mind that although these characteristics are linked, they are also separate. Confidence refers to how you feel about your capacity to succeed in a certain subject, and it motivates you to take action. Self-esteem, on the other hand, is a more “global” concept that refers to how you evaluate your overall character and worth as a person. While feeling good about yourself is important for your health, it does not always translate into action. It may make you feel good to be told you “look wonderful” or “are a very terrific person,” but what do you do with such information? Sure, feeling good about yourself might make you feel more secure about taking a risk or trying something new, but that isn’t always the case. Many people believe they are excellent people, yet they haven’t done anything and are fearful of taking risks.

Second, even when others exaggerate your abilities to execute certain activities, this confidence is fleeting and has no long-term influence. External affirmation may motivate you to take the initial step and put yourself out there, but once you’re in the ring, it quickly fades.

Let’s imagine you’re afraid of approaching ladies, but your buddy gives you a pep talk about how females aren’t terrifying, and you’re OK. Your confidence calculator lends your friend’s remarks a lot of weight at that point, and you stroll inside the pub by yourself to try your luck. You say to yourself, “I can do this!” But, a split second later, your confidence calculator estimates your ability to succeed based on your present level of social competence and previous, unfavorable experiences, and issues a fresh, far more pessimistic prognosis. You say to yourself, “There’s no way I can accomplish this.”

Or your girlfriend makes you feel like you can achieve anything in the world while you’re dating her, but when you split up with her, your confidence goes with her, and you crumble into a shadow of your former self.

Finally, if you rest your self-assurance on other people’s praise, you’ll become much more risk-averse, scared that if you fail, the applause will stop and you’ll be left alone with the stillness of your inner emptiness. If doing what you’ve always done earns you a lot of hugs and back pats, you’re going to keep doing it.


Your mental and physical health suffers as a result of the unstable, topsy-turvy fragility of confidence that is reliant on external affirmation. According to a study of college students, those who placed their self-worth on external sources such as looks and validation from others had greater rates of stress, anger, academic issues, relationship disputes, and alcohol and drug intake than those who based it on internal values.

Mastery is the true source of confidence.

Where else can you go to boost your confidence if you’re not naturally designed for bluster and want to appreciate the praise of people without putting your value in it?

To be competent. To master. Ideally, this will lead to complete mastery.

Give your confidence calculator something powerful, immovable, and fully within your control to hang its forecasts on if it depends on proof that your aptitude fits the work ahead.

The term “mastery” refers to having complete control over a certain area. Apprenticeship, Creative-Active, and Mastery are the three steps on the way to this form of command, according to author Robert Greene. Each step hardens your self-assurance into a rock-solid foundation:

Apprenticeship. You either search for an issue to fix or select a field that suits your distinct inner calling – your vocation. You don’t choose a domain based on what you believe you should accomplish, but rather on the compass of your own personal beliefs and objectives. Furthermore, you select your first employment in this industry based on where you believe you will learn the most and where your talents will have the best prospects for advancement, not on status or money.

You’re delighted to start the Apprenticeship phase, but you’re also nervous and out of your depth. You have a lot you don’t know, and you have no idea what you don’t know. So you put your ego aside and set out to study all there is to know about your area. You pay attention to what your domain’s leaders are doing, take in all of the knowledge that comes your way, study hard, and practice constantly.

While learning the ropes, you make errors on a regular basis, but you see these setbacks as valuable learning opportunities. You actively seek comments on how you may improve your performance and do not take criticism personally.

You have your first meetings with the “Resistance,” as author Stephen Pressfield refers to it. Sometimes you’re bored, irritated, or bewildered to the point of paralysis, and other times you simply don’t want to work, particularly on the monotonous duties that any apprenticeship entails. But you learn to control your emotions, push through them, and work hard every day, even when you don’t want to. You learn how to work like an expert.

You gradually learn the norms of interaction, as well as what works and what doesn’t. You begin to find connections between things you hadn’t noticed before, have a better understanding of the dynamics and interactions amongst your colleagues and rivals, and gain a more comprehensive understanding of the topic you’ve immersed yourself in.


Your confidence in your capacity to handle obstacles grows as you learn the fundamental abilities of your job, and as a result, you’re given new, and more intriguing, tasks to confront.

Creative-Active. “You shift from student to practitioner” in this phase, according to Greene. You’ve gained a better knowledge of the complexities of your area, and instead of just imitating what others do, you’ve started to experiment with doing things your own way.

After you’ve found out the rules, you may start breaking them and experimenting with new ideas. Greater experimentation leads to more success, but it also leads to more failure. However, you learn to “fail quickly” by placing tiny wagers and evaluating how they turn out, learning from the failures, making adjustments, and moving on to the next idea. You grow better at anticipating what will work as a result of this cycle of attempting and recovering, and you get more comfortable with taking chances, viewing failure as a normal part of the creative process.

The abilities necessary to properly traverse your profession grow more keen as you continue to practice them. Your chores will become more natural to you, and you will be able to do them quicker, better, and more effectively. You grow self-assurance in your abilities.

You can see the Resistance as soon as it appears, and you’ve devised rituals and means to expel it quickly. You’ve built a track record of success that you can use to motivate yourself; you can convince yourself, “I’ve done this before, and I can do it again.”

Looking back on how far you’ve gone from the beginning to the present, you can see and feel the progress you’ve made, and you have great faith in your ability to continue improving and rising to a higher level via dedication and persistent hard work.

Mastery. Finally, you’ve reached the Mastery stage. Your decision-making and behavior go from natural to intuitive and nearly automatic. The fundamental functions of your profession don’t require a lot of mental effort, and your familiarity with your work allows you to concentrate on the broader picture.

You’ve progressed from a foot soldier who can only observe what’s going on in the trenches to a commander who can stand over the battle map and survey the whole battlefield. You’re better able to see chances, think abstractly, and create since you’re no longer engrossed in the specifics.

You’re acquainted with your domain’s natural ups and downs, and you understand that peaks will lead to valleys, but that dips, no matter how deep or lengthy they are, don’t endure forever. When things go wrong, you have complete faith in your ability to improvise. You’re not frightened of the unknown and are ready to take risks knowing that you can pivot and regroup if things go wrong.

You have an even longer list of triumphs to look back on, as well as problems you’ve encountered and conquered. Knowing what you’ve accomplished and what you’re capable of encourages you to push into even more difficult and challenging regions of innovation and greatness.


You’ve exceeded your previous mentors and are forging your own unique path.

You’ve mastered your craft and obtained the immense strength that comes with achieving the highest level of self-assurance.

Take the First Step Towards Confidence Development Through Mastery

While the terminology used to describe the mastery process above was primarily focused on the sphere of business, it is a process that can be applied to every domain in life. You may aspire to be the best lover, spouse, parent, athlete, financial steward, socializer, or enthusiast in the world.

The procedure is the same regardless of the domain. You begin the first step by approaching the topic as a humble apprentice, and then you work your way up to master level by learning, practicing, and experimenting.

It’s okay if the initial step is little. Start by reading books and articles on social skills if you want to become a great conversationalist. Then, with your family and close friends, practice appropriate listening and talking practices where there is minimal chance of failure or shame. Then try making small chat with cashiers and servers to get some experience. Every single day. Attend gatherings where you know people and focus on certain conversational tactics that you wish to improve. Examine how different techniques produce various responses. Continue to read books and articles. Continue to explore and practice. You’ll eventually be able to have a friendly, entertaining conversation with anybody, at any time and in any place. You’ll have the courage to stroll into an event where you don’t know a single person and feel completely at ease.

While confidence is domain specific, and only a few people can master many domains, there is some confidence carryover from one domain to the next, and from one life to the next. You know you have the perseverance and discipline to stay with anything and see it through since you’ve already mastered one area, which boosts your total self-esteem and improves how you carry yourself. While mastery in one area will not give you the confidence to excel in another, knowing that you can start from scratch and gradually develop with dedication will give you the courage to take the first step in trying something new.

The world opens up to you when you gain confidence via skill. It has nothing to do with your DNA, other people’s views, or the fact that no one can ever take it away from you. There’s no greater sense of self-assurance than knowing that no matter how you were born or what life throws at you, you can create anything you want of yourself.


The world opens up to you when you gain confidence via skill. It has nothing to do with your DNA, other people’s views, or the fact that no one can ever take it away from you. There’s no greater sense of self-assurance than knowing that no matter how you were born or what life throws at you, you can create anything you want of yourself.


Robert Greene’s Mastery

Katty Kay and Claire Shipman’s The Confidence Code (While this book is largely aimed towards women, it does emphasize studies on confidence that is relevant to both sexes.)



Confidence is something that can be developed. Here are some tips on how to develop true confidence in school, and life. Reference: how to be confident in school.

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