Confidence certainty and doubt. Even if you’re unsure, can you at least act with professional certainty? Or are you allowing yourself to doubt even that?
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How many times have you heard: “he or she knows their stuff, but they just lack confidence..”? Sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? Surely confidence comes from “knowing your stuff”? Or does it? We’ve all experienced a lack of confidence from time to time, despite that, haven’t we? Either in others as well as sometimes in ourselves. So what is this “confidence thing”?
To me, confidence is developed over a period of time as one gathers knowledge and experience and develops that into wisdom. Not just knowing, but doing. It comes from preparation and practice. Agree? So why can we still lack confidence, despite all that?
Confidence Certainty and Doubt. What Robs Us Of Them?
I have written a whole bunch of articles (over 30 actually) around the topic of overcoming personal obstacles. A lot of these also form the “guts” of my book “Life Learnings of a Life Coach“, where we deal with the question of: “what’s holding you back from raising your game?”. You see, what I’ve learned from coaching hundreds of clients just like you and me all over the world, is that no matter how confident or successful, we all have certain areas of weakness. All of us struggle from time to time with negative, even self-sabotaging self talk, particularly when we may be allowing ourselves to feel a little “down” and such unresourceful behaviour patterns are permitted to creep back in.
I don’t believe that anyone is immune to this; even the most strong and confident appearing individuals. We all harbour such fears from time to time. Fears like “being good enough“. Fears like “worrying about rejection“. Fears of “being found out” etc.
The difference between those I described in “The 5% that know Why” and the masses, is that they recognize such behaviour patterns and develop an awareness of them and then seek to do something about eliminating or replacing them. Most can, but most don’t allow ourselves to admit to it or do this. And a subset of those 5% again are the ones that will be willing to invest in finding someone that can help them through the worst ones and hold them accountable to seeing them through. They are the few that will engage a coach. The rest? Well most of them will continue to keep listening to each others opinions and unfortunately remain in the 95%.
Confidence can be defined as: “a feeling of assurance, especially of self-assurance”. Oh, assurance of self? Wow. Could that have something to do with my conditioning? Could that mean if I lack confidence about something that could have something to do with my beliefs? As in belief in myself? As in sometimes allowing my self-talk to doubt my capability?
Interesting. Remember Henry Ford’s famous cliché: “whether you think you can or you think you can’t – you’re dead right”. Infuriatingly true, isn’t it? So then perhaps it is often up to what I believe to be true, even in the presence or absence of sufficient facts?
I’m sure all of you reading this will agree that confidence isn’t something we can easily just switch on or off. Or the lack of it being something we can address in a short blog, such as this. I‘m sure we all experience a lack of confidence at certain points in situations, in our life and work. As a coach, I often work with clients to identify and overcome certain “blind spots” and often need to help them address their ability to build and maintain their confidence, particularly in challenging situations.
What this has taught me however, is that on that path of assisting clients in “raising your game, to get on top of and stay on top of your game and ahead of the rest”, that where there might be a lack of confidence, we can overcome that in the short term through acting with certainty. Let me explain.
The Thesaurus defines certainty as “something that is clearly established or assured”.
Mark Twain called it: “the emphasis of a certainty that is not impaired by any shade of doubt”. ” So if the Thesaurus defines doubt as: “the state of being unsure of something”, then certainty and doubt must be antonyms? And to me that means that by choosing and emphasizing one, we can do that at the expense of the other. Certainty then can be a decision. That’s a reasonable conclusion, isn’t it?
I believe that it is a requirement for being a successful professional today. I used to hate the term “fake it until you make it” and some of you might be cringing right now as you read that, however there is some truth in it in the context of what I am talking about here.
By consciously choosing to act with certainty, you can help yourself overcome fear or doubt. First your certainty needs to be greater than your doubt. You can achieve that mentally through the right self awareness, self talk or affirmations.
Then your certainty needs to be greater than their doubt – that of those who you are talking or presenting to.
And when that’s worked a few times it can buoy your confidence. Or you can learn from that and judge the feedback to fine-tune it for next time.
Its often like an out of form cricketer – a couple of good boundaries in an over and you can see them grow taller and think “this game is just too easy”.
As a professional, I believe you owe it to yourself to act with certainty, always. I firmly believe and have also personally experienced that confidence will grow over time.
Confidence Certainty and Doubt. So What?
So if this is resonating with you and you can see or feel where or how you might be able to leverage this approach, why don’t you find some opportunities this week to “try it on” and see if it makes a difference for you? I’m sure you’ll agree with me that this isn’t rocket science, but simple common sense, right?
What do you have to lose by “having a go”?
And if this blog post may have raised a few questions that remain unanswered for you, why not email me at and I’ll be delighted to discuss them with you?
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sidra khanani says
looking for stuff on confidence, your article added great knowledge for my Research working on the topic of Confidence.
I have also written a blog on this topic hope you will like it.
Nick Gole says
Love the simple teachings in this blog. Acting with certainty is so true, its is like there is no right or wrong decision, once you decide on a course you stick the course. The fake it until you make it is awesome and it certainly adds to confidence. In time you will not have to fake it as you will have gained the valuable experience that will create the confidence to act.
I loved your “fake it till you make it” analogy and the way forward via choosing to act with certainty. You comments “certainty needs to be greater than your doubt and certainty needs to be greater than their doubt” definately rings true.
The challenge when faced with uncertainty is to somehow remember these words and literally fake it (act with certainty) until the confidence returns. That is where having a mentor or a coach comes into it as they can help with a dose of reality by reframing the inner conversation one has towards the positive and setting achievable goals to help bring back confidence.
All good stuff.