Self, Health And Wellness

5 Odd (But Highly Effective) Ways To Become More Confident Than Ever

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How To Love Yourself, Be More Confident & Build Your Self-Esteem

There are so many important components to becoming the best possible version of yourself. One component is a dedication to learn from others around you. Another is a willingness to emphasize personal development. Both are incredibly important, yet both require a mystical yet elusive attribute: confidence.

Confidence is one of those things where you either have it or not. It’s so important to have though, because:

  • You could have the best ideas in the world, but no one knows if you don’t share
  • Others could get the job you are the better fit for if they have more confidence
  • You could miss out on the chance to date your dream partner if they don’t know about your interest

Those aren’t meant to be inflammatory statements. Most people know that confidence is important — you’ve probably heard it your whole life: “be confident!”

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To that end, I’m going to skip over going into more detail on why confidence is important. Since everyone knows confidence is important, there are so many resources out there about building confidence. In fact, you see a ton of poor advice out there about how to “be confident.”

Those tips typically go something like this:

  • Just be yourself
  • Work hard
  • Good things happen to good people

What a bunch of generic BS! How do I read something like ‘just be yourself’ and then implement it? It’s practically useless as far as advice goes!

I’m an award-winning instructor from Wharton and have worked with so many students regarding how to be more confident. Over the years spent working with my students, I came to learn a couple unorthodox tips to building confidence, that really work.

As a fair warning, this advice will probably be a bit different than the standard list of self-esteem advice. In fact, this list has five different strategies to build self-confidence. Here’s a challenge for you: pick just one and give it a shot. It will feel weird, and difficult. But I promise it will help. You can do it!!

So if you've been trying to figure out how to love yourself and be more confident, here are 5 unorthodox but seriously effective ways to build self-esteem and increase your confidence.

1. Be an actor and play the part of the most confident person in the room.

We all know what confidence looks like: someone who knows exactly who they are, what they are about, and what they want out of life. It’s can be created by experience, knowledge, talent, the list goes on. Or, it could be acted. Be an actor!

Think about it: we all know what confidence looks like, right? If someone put a gun to your head and told you to become an actor and play the role of a confident person, you would know what to do.

You already know how to be confident. But if we already know how to be confident, it begs the question: why are we unable to do it?

It comes down to fear. We’re afraid of displaying confidence, of being the person who sticks out like a sore thumb for being sure of themselves. In every room, you can tell who the most confident person is. We’re all afraid to be that person, to be the one that everyone notices.

This fear is why you hear the common advice ‘fake it until you make it.’ That advice is a bunch of B.S. By definition, if you are ‘faking it until you make it’, it’s not genuine! The whole time you are ‘faking’ it, there’s a voice in the back of your head saying no. The mental anguish and strife that comes from ‘faking’ prevent the methodology from working.

In all my years of teaching, I have never once had a student successfully ‘fake it until they make it.’

That’s why it’s much better to be an actor. It’s giving yourself mental permission and a framework to practice displaying your confidence. It’s no different than being in drama class back in high school! Being an actor doesn’t force you to be someone you’re not, it allows you to be yourself and portray a confident person.

To be a confident actor, try these steps below:

  • Pick a event (a meeting at work, social event with friends, etc.)
  • Before that event, tell yourself you will be an actor who is playing the role of the most confident person in the room
  • During that event, ask yourself: what would an actor do now to display confidence? Do that!
  • After the event, debrief with yourself. How did it make you feel? How did the event go? Did you appear more confident?

2. Pick a niche to display confidence.

Another way to build confidence is to become the subject matter expert of a particular area. The trick here is to pick something that’s incredibly specific, and that others aren’t likely to know. That way, there’s plenty of questions you can answer that no one can!

Think about that from a confidence perspective: you are the pro and others will need to ask your help and advice. It’s a great opportunity to build confidence!

I had a student once who was struggling in their job. They had joined a team at work where everyone had been around for a long time and knew the day-to-day cold. As a result, my student was understandably nervous of speaking up. There was a really high likelihood the other members of the team already knew everything my student had to say.

When my student and I met, we identified a niche that the student’s team didn’t know much about: other people in the organization. The team kept on needing to work with other divisions of the company (HR, Finance, Purchasing, etc.), but didn’t know who the right point of contact was.

We saw an opportunity: my student spent a few days studying Org charts and stopped by the other team’s to introduce themselves. Sure enough, within the week, my student knew more about this than her team, with dozens of years of experience.

Suddenly, the confidence was there! At the next meeting, the team reached a decision but didn’t know who best to interface with on the other team. My student jumped in immediately: she wasn’t worried about speaking up because she knew she was right and she knew no one else knew the answer.

This kept happening over the next month or so. Slowly but surely, my student was viewed as an essential member of the team due to her knowledge. My student felt valued due to her many contributions, and was more confident to jump into conversations across all topics.

To pick a confidence niche, try these steps:

  • Identify a group of people (work, friends, family, etc.) where you want to develop confidence with
  • Pay attention and look for niche areas of information the group doesn’t know

As a tip: look for times when people pull up Google on their computer, search their inbox, or pull out their phones. It means they need information quickly, but don’t have it now.

Study up on this particular area. As it's niche, it shouldn’t take more than a day or two for you to develop an information advantage. The next time the question comes up, you now know the answer! Answer it!
Continue to increase your knowledge and contribution.

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3. Pick a power opportunity to gain confidence.

There’s always an opportunity to find something that no one else will do. I call this a ‘power opportunity’: it gives you mental freedom and confidence based on the knowledge that you went to a level of growth no one else in the room did.

For another student, their power opportunity is running. He ran most mornings before school and work. That way, no matter what happens during the day, he did something for himself. Even if a meeting went horribly, they could look around the room and have confidence that he was likely the only one who was up and running this morning. No one could take that away from him.

Think about that feeling: you know that you went to a level of growth that no one else did. So yeah, maybe that meeting sucked. But if you also know that you’re putting in more work than everyone else in the room, your development is going faster than everyone else in the room.

Your power opportunity gives you confidence that the next meeting will go better. It makes you feel powerful!

If you’re reading the above and saying "I don’t have time to wake up and run in the morning!!" that’s okay! Running isn’t the easiest power opportunity for just starting out due the time commitment.

The trick is to find something that is authentically you, focused on personal development, and something you can take pride in knowing no one else on your team did. Some great examples include:

  • writing your goals in the morning
  • meditating for a few minutes
  • journaling
  • visualization
  • listen to podcasts
  • read 5 pages of a book

The message here is that there’s a ton of different options! That’s also step one of the list of steps to pick a power opportunity:

  • Pick a power opportunity item (try to pick one that will only take a few minutes per day!)
  • Stick to your power opportunity for a few weeks
  • Put a reminder on your calendar, every day, to practice your power opportunity
  • When the reminder dings on the calendar, take the time to look around. Realize you are the only one in the room who did that power item
  • Watch your confidence grow as you take control of your life & push yourself to improve, while others stagnant in place

4. You can only build confidence if you practice making yourself nervous.

We’ve all heard the quote: “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.”

Despite all of our best effort, our diligent practice, we can get scared in the moment. We learned our niche and practice our power opportunity, but still froze when it came time to deliver that big presentation. Our plan went by the wayside as we get punched in the face.

That’s okay! It happens to everyone. Hell, even famous people can admit to nerves.

The trick here is to find a situation that makes you nervous. That way, when you are doing the real thing, nerves are something you practiced. Practice makes perfect, even when it comes to getting nervous.

One student of mine was really nervous for a presentation. She also had a friend, who she happened to have a huge crush on. She asked if he could practice giving the presentation to him, knowing that it would make her nervous because of the crush. Of course, she didn’t disclose that was the reason she wanted to practice with him!

As you can guess, she worked all the nerves out while prating and crushed the actual the actual presentation! Even better, they’re actually dating today!

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This example used the standard nerves people get when talking with someone they like! Other examples you could use include:

  • Public speaking
  • Introducing yourself to someone new
  • Doing math (out loud & publicly, such as in a park)

You know best what makes you nervous, so use the list above as a thought starter! The trick is to just find a way to simulate nerves.

Here’s the steps to practice making yourself nervous:

  • Identify an area where nerves are impacting your confidence
  • Pick a way to practice handling the nerves (list above as a thought starter)
  • Combine the confidence growth area with a way to practice your nerves (such as presenting to a crush)
  • Gain confidence for your actual event!

5. Build confidence by pushing normal societal boundaries.

This one is a little difficult, but wow if you can master it, confidence is your best friend.

The goal here is to do something completely outside of normal societal boundaries. Something that feels downright weird to do will be an incredible trainer for confidence. If you can do this, then you could do just about everything.

A favorite one here is credited to a business school professor who encouraged his students to try negotiating for something that typically isn’t negotiated for.

Try doing this with Trader Joe’s famous $0.19 bananas. To be fair to the staff there, try going early or late when the staff isn’t mobbed. Then grab a banana and offer to the cashier to buy it for a nickel. See what happens! Why not, right? Who says we negotiate for things at flea markets but not at the grocery store? It’s a negotiation too so you aren’t stealing the banana. And worst case scenario, they say no! And plus, if they work at Trader Joes, they’ll be nice about it.

But the confidence necessary to ask…!!

Go out there and build confidence!

Hopefully you found these tips to be unorthodox, outside the norm, and hopefully useful! Give it a shot and let me know how it works out: I loved helping my students and happy to chat with any of the readers here!

The whole message is that confidence already exists within you! Try these things and hopefully your natural confidence can come out!

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Sean O'Dowd is a graduate of the Wharton School of Business, award-winning instructor, current consultant, and editor at Ten Minute MBA. You can find more of his writing on Medium.

This article was originally published at Ten Minute MBA. Reprinted with permission from the author.