Confidence is a state of mind. One that can be learned and improved upon, says life and business coach, Izak Strauss. We spoke to him about what’s really behind a lack of confidence and how, like any muscle, it can be built over time.
According to Strauss, what’s behind a lack of confidence is fear and self-doubt. “The fear of failing, being criticised, the fear of the unknown – all of these things can take a knock on our confidence. Yet it is at this moment when we need to feel the fear and persevere anyway. To quote Nelson Mandela, “I have learned that courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave person is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.’”
Strauss says that very few people are born with high levels of confidence; it is something we learn over time. Once you begin to focus on improving yours on a daily basis, you will get better at it. And while some people are naturally more confident than others, Strauss says that once we begin to have faith in our abilities and skills, confidence grows. “Like with learning to ride a bicycle, you first need to take the training wheels off before you can progress to doing wheelies – if you have faith in your abilities, you will back yourself up in the face of adversity because you know what you are capable of doing.”
This may mean working on improving self-esteem by taking the time to analyse your strengths and weaknesses objectively – very often we downplay our skills and overemphasise our weaknesses. And a lack of trust in our abilities can make people doubt our skills. “Perception is everything, as fickle as that may sound. The moment people perceive us as not being confident (and we all know that you make an impression on someone within the first few minutes of meeting them) they lose faith in our abilities. Yet, if we are confident in ourselves and in what we do, we immediately create trust and earn respect, translating into success,” says Strauss.