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How to Develop Deep Level Self-Confidence (Explained in Plain Language)

25 May 2010 4 Comments


(An excerpt from my upcoming book, Doing the Knowledge: Ascending into Action. Click the title for more…)


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You can’t play the piano, and God knows you can’t sing.
You’d better learn how to weave chairs so you can support yourself.

~ Ray Charles’s school teacher in response
to his desire to become a recording artist.

How long will you go on training all day in a gymnasium; living in a dream world?
~ Arnold Schwarzenegger’s family pleading him to get a ‘real’ job.

Liquidate the business right now and recoup whatever
cash you can. If you don’t, you’ll end up penniless

~ Mary Kay Ash’s attorney weeks before she first started.

Television will never be used for entertainment.
~ Told to Walt Disney when trying to pitch “The
Wonderful World of Disney” to NBC.

As these examples show, you need have confidence in yourself, because there’ll be times when the people you most need in your corner won’t have any confidence in you at all

boxing ring cornerBut with self-confidence, you don’t need a corner, because it provides you deep level of faith in yourself – enough faith to the point where if no one else supported you, and even if everyone you came across said you were crazy, you’d still do your thing anyway.

It’s all related to intrinsic motivation: the type of confidence we’re building on here is an offset of the “Internal Flame” we discussed earlier (in the book).

Understand that the confidence you need to have energizing you (and emanating out of your aura, really) exists independently of your skills or experience, because it comes from a source of strength more essential to who you are than skills or experience.

It doesn’t matter how good you actually are or what you’ve accomplished so far. Forget about how much money you’ve made, how many fans you have following you or any other type of statistic people think measure your success. All of that’s secondary to the attitude you bring to the game.

For instance, when I first started drumming, I never thought about the fact that I was actually whack at it…this only came up for me later on as I started comparing myself to other players more advanced than me.

bryan ogilvie uniondale marching knights drumline

Instead, what stayed in my mind was the the fact that I was going somewhere. I was too absorbed in my own developmental process to even think about the fact that I wasn’t good.

(Most of my training was done alone anyway, so it wasn’t like there was another skilled drummer there to remind me of how weak my hands were. You’re craft might be the same.)

At a particular practice, I remember one of the elder masters telling me, “Just don’t get intimidated,” and it made me think of what my father told me all the time when I was younger: “No matter how good you are at something, there’ll always be somebody better….”

my father playing soccerHe never say this to me so I would feel defeated, he said this to me only so that I wouldn’t get caught up measuring my own progress against an impossible standard of people who were already ahead of me.

There’s no logic to not feeling motivated just because you’re not the best out there: there will always be somebody who paints better paintings, writes better songs, generates more revenue or has more karate trophies in his living room then you do. Accept this as the reality and give it your best anyway.

Now you may be thinking to yourself, “What if I’m just starting out, and I’m THE WORST person I know???” The answer is that this still applies because your goal should be to better yourself, not to be better then anybody else out there.

It’s not a competition, and even in things where it IS a competition, it’s still not a competition…let me explain:

When you ask NFL players why it is they won a game as opposed to the equally-capable team they played against, you get answers detailing their mental state.

They say things like, “Well, they we’re a great team too, we just wanted it more.

When you ask NBA stars about their performance on a particular night, say things like, you get answers referring to their drive or team-dynamics.

They say things like, “I knew I had to come through for the team, so I gave it my all,” or, “We just came together and decided that we were going to take it just one play at a time.

It’s the sports commentators, analysts and fans, the people OUTSIDE the game, who focus more on the statistics and technical strategies. The people out there making it happen know that the real game is inside themselves.

Interestingly, many people lack self-confidence because they have it confused with “skill-competence”: they mistakenly assume that in order to feel confident about something, they need to know exactly how to do ALL of the particular tasks involved.

black friends talkingSo in their minds, while a news reporter would feel confident in relaying a story to a group of people and an experienced dater would feel confident interacting with the members of the opposite sex, neither would feel confident in, let’s say, cooking a new dish.

Implicit in this skill-based approach to confidence is a fear of doing new things: since there’s an anxiety associated with transitioning into any thing new (because confidence is reserved only for the task they’re “confident they can do”), people tend to stay confined within the range of their comfort zones.

This is one level of confidence – a level limited to a certain domain from which comes. But there’s another, higher level confidence you can tap into as well – a level established in who you are fundamentally as person; a level that you can carry with you into every domain you experience.

We call this level SELF-confidence because rather than confidence in a particular ability or function, you become confident in your ability to handle whatever life throws at you regardless of the circumstances.

With self-confidence, you’ll understand that it’s okay to have imperfections, and that we all hit lows in life.

With self-confidence, you’ll learn lessons from your mistakes (and from your lower emotions) quickly to make the necessary adaptations.

With self-confidence, you’ll learn to laugh at your personal shortcomings AND at the stressful situations you encounter.

With self-confidence, you’ll persist in efforts to achieve regardless of the obstacles in your path, and

With self-confidence, you’ll have the courage to be unique and to be yourself. You’ll be okay with standing out from the crowd, trying new things and withstanding criticism.

If you have no confidence in self, you’ve lost in the race
of life. With confidence, you’ve won even before you started.

~Marcus Garvey

Marcus Garvey

Defined briefly, self-confidence is self-assuredness, the certainty that you can achieve what you set out to do and the definite knowing that you’ll make it through all of your life’s challenges successfully.

It manifests itself both emotionally, with a feeling of “I can do this,” and mentally, with inner self-talk on that same vibration. To develop self-confidence, try this simple 4 step exercise:

————————— 1 —————————
Think about (and if you like, write down) what confidence means to you. What do confident people do that unconfident people do not? What would YOU do differently if you were confident?

For instance, maybe you would find it easier to speak up for yourself, show your emotions, meet new people or (in the case of a male) approach women.

————————— 2 —————————
Write down three beliefs you hold about yourself which could be limiting your confidence.

Now, think of three beliefs you would rather have…beliefs that would empower you and bring you confidence. Cross out the limiting beliefs and write these empowering ones down in their place.

What would you have to do for these new beliefs to come true?

————————— 3 —————————
Make yourself very comfortable (either sitting or lying down), close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and relax.

Allow yourself to imagine: what would it be like to be perfectly confident? What difference would it make in my life?

Let your mind drift for a few minutes, then open your eyes and write down everything that comes to mind. Keep this list: you have it in your power to experience all this eventually. Remember that whatever your mind can conceive and you can bring into actuality.

————————— 4 —————————
Commit yourself to behaving more confidently AS OF NOW, even if it feels like an act.

Do what actors, musicians, politicians, celebrities and others do all over the world: pretend like you’re confident even if you’re not.

For instance, calm your breath, stand upright, look people in the eye and speak with a clear, unwavering tone…you’ll feel more confident immediately.

Beside this, simply do what we’ve been building on so far: follow your goals. Take notice of how you’re able to make it through all types of pressure and how, in the end, things always work out in your favor.

Also, remember to STOP COMPARING YOURSELF with other people and DON’T ALLOW YOURSELF TO GET INTIMIDATED…just learn from those that are ahead of you, set realistic, feasible goals based on your particular situation and focus only on personal progress.

So there it is: I think the section could still use a little work, but you get the idea. For more on this idea of building self-confidence, see the first link below under “More Science.”


self improvement and deep knowledge
>> 2 Easy Meditations for Improving Self-Image & Self-Esteem
>> More on My Upcoming Book, “Doing the Knowledge: Ascending into Action”
>> More About Me & How I Got to Where I Am
>> The 7 Virtues of Samurai Code (Bushido Principles)
>> Assertiveness Skills to Help You Resolve Issues w/ the People That Matter


  • AkaziaJ said:

    Truly inspiring to all that read it. No matter where we’ve been or what we’ve done, there will come a time when we doubt what we know exist and we just need a reminder.

    We must remember who we are and whose we are. Your blog post provides that reminder. Thanks for being a presence here in cyberspace. Keep the faith and thanks for all that you do.


  • Shannon said:

    I’ve struggled so long with this… I needed a reminder. Thank you!

  • Isabelle said:

    I am trying to get a well documented definition of self-confidence. It is often lumped in with self-esteem, self-efficacy. What really is self-confidence. I have read in many places that we are to be self-confident, but I need to know what that really means- like a scientific explanation, neuro-scientific even.

  • Bryan Ogilvie (author) said:

    Hey Isabelle, great question…

    The closest, fully-explored and exhaustive analysis of self-ESTEEM (not confidence) I’ve come across is the work of Nathaniel Branden, the essence of which I covered in a radio show called The Dynamics of HIGH SELF-ESTEEM

    There, I described self-esteem as “your relationship with own process of perception,”: the degree to which you trust and honor what you experience, think and feel, as well as how this rather abstract “relationship” plays out in things like “confidence,” “self-talk,” “self-motivation,” etc. etc.

    But I feel you, “self-confidence” is a fairly ambiguous term thrown around thoughtlessly – like what you say when you run out of actual advice because it seems to apply to everything – and I don’t even have a scientific definition myself (and here I am publishing material on this stuff).

    The advice here, in other blog posts, the book referenced above, and the mental-conditioning programs I offer through this site is really the extent of what I know.

    I’m just not going to lie to you and pull some scientific mumbo-jumbo out my rear end when I simply don’t have one, you know?

    Hope this helps…

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