How can you boost your self-confidence?

Fear of failure and not wanting to look foolish in front of colleagues can lead us to live our lives in straight-jackets; doing what’s expected of us instead of listening to our inner voice. This lack of self-belief hits us all at some point in our lives, testing us most strongly in times of significant change.

The following 5 tools will help you navigate change with more confidence and view failure as an essential component in the road to self-realisation.

Get out of your comfort zone.

Remember your comfort zone is a great place, but nothing grows there. Routines are safe but you can feel incredibly exposed when something unexpected happens. Regularly exploring new things allows you to become more relaxed in dealing with stress and uncertainty.
Consider putting yourself forward for challenging assignments or taking up something new outside of work. Have fun on the way and use this as a playground to get yourself used to new environments – take risks and allow yourself to fail in a safe place. Remember, most of us don’t know what we’re capable of until we’re truly tested.

Embrace the growth mind set

Carol Dweck, Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, has highlighted that the biggest difference between high and low performers is their beliefs as to why they failed. Low performers believed they were born with a fixed level of intelligence and were powerless to change it. They put their failure down to lack of ability (fixed mind set) and consequently gave up more easily. High performers, in contrast believed that intelligence could be developed through education and hard work (growth mind set). This led them to see any setback as a sign that they either hadn’t put enough effort in or hadn’t yet acquired the right skill set. They consequently were motivated to keep trying.

Her research showed that those with “growth mind sets” consistently outperformed their colleagues when faced with challenges. So the next time you find yourself engaging in negative self-talk, remind yourself that “success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” (Winston Churchill.)

The fact that elite sports stars attribute most of their success to discipline and hard work keeps me grounded. Their humanising such heroic achievements, gives me strength to keep trying.

Celebrate your successes

When you’re on your journey, celebrating wins is really important. Set yourself both long and short term goals. Confidence comes from small wins that occur repeatedly, each small step moving you closer to the big goal. Celebrating the wins gives you the feel good factor that will keep you motivated on your journey.

Remember how far you’ve come

This can be a powerful tool especially for perfectionists who expect to get from zero to 100% at breakneck speed. When reviewing your progress, instead of stressing about how far you have yet to accomplish, reflect instead on how far you’ve come and what you’ve achieved.

Look for role models

Instead of feeling deflated when you see someone who excels in a role and worrying if you’ll ever be as good as them, it can be useful to reframe the situation as a great learning opportunity. Working with talented colleagues gives you a unique opportunity to observe, learn and make great strides.


Success is more about effort than genius and with the right mind set anything is possible.
All of us have periods of self-doubt but it’s how we channel this energy that determines the outcome.

About the author
Laura McGrath is an Executive Coach with a background in recruitment and career coaching. She has a post graduate qualification in Executive Coaching from the IMI and has been a guest lecturer with Trinity College Dublin and TU Dublin. For more information call 087 669 1192.

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