Boss Lady

10 ways to sustain your confidence and lead


Have you already participated in confidence training programs, read lots of self-improvement articles and worked on development plans? You can get things to shift for a little while. You might have presented one or two great pitches, won a killer client or attracted the attention of the boss – but, eventually, you return to your old ways of working and thinking, and now you’re feeling flat again. Why? Just what is going wrong?

Building real confidence takes real work, and this work is hard because you’re changing your behaviour. So your challenge is to make those changes stick. This is what will make your confidence sustainable.  Here are 10 ways you can do that.

1. Stop assuming

A lot of self-doubt comes from the unconscious beliefs and stories we tell ourselves. Things like ‘I’m not good enough,’ and ‘I’ll never be able to do that’.

Ask yourself, Do you assume that you need to have all the answers before you pitch an idea? Do you assume that you’ll be judged negatively if you speak up about what’s not working in the media plan?

Remember, there are no facts around this, it’s just something in your head. When you accept this then you will start to see improvements.

2. Accept fluctuations

Our confidence generally goes up and down based on different environments, contexts and demands. And it can change depending on how we feel about ourselves and our ability. This is all pretty normal.

Confidence is rarely in a completely level state, no matter how hard we try to sustain it. Don’t try to fight the inevitable!

3. Reflect regularly

You need to regularly reflect on your confidence levels to give you a good indication of where a lack of confidence might be holding you back, or where a confidence boost is enabling you to step up and in to something challenging.

Developing the skill of noticing where your confidence is at and how it is affecting your ability to lead effectively is crucial to sustaining confidence over time. So make regular reflection a habit.

4. Embrace failure

Just because we fall off the diet wagon during a holiday doesn’t mean we are doomed to return permanently to poor eating habits. In the same way, just because our confidence drops at a point in time doesn’t mean we have lost all confidence.

When we allow ourselves to view relapse as failure, this often becomes self-fulfilling. Instead, we need to remind ourselves that failure is just an opportunity to learn.

5. Keep going

Never let a few days, or even weeks, of falling back into old habits and behaviours discourage you from re-establishing the behaviour you want to change. Instead, get back on the wagon and apply what you’ve learned to support your change.

Berating yourself is a useless activity that just chews up energy and time, so don’t do it!

6. Be yourself

Showing up as truly confident over a sustained period of time is something that needs to be built from the inside out. ‘Faking it until you make it’ only gets you so far and for so long.

Trying to pretend you have the confidence needed to get the job done can be exhausting. So learn to be you because as you know, everyone else is taken.

7. Face rejection

In media and marketing, you need to speak up when no-one else will and lead change. You need to be visible and make unpopular decisions. You must stand alone in a crowd because that is what leadership is!

Inevitably, when we stand up, we are putting ourselves at risk of rejection. Building your capacity to face this is important because not everyone will like what you have to say.

8. Reframe conflict

Many of us see conflict as bad, rather than being able to reframe it as healthy debate. As a result, we keep our opinions to ourselves – thinking that if we just keep doing our job and delivering the outcomes, we will get ahead.

As Martin Luther King Jr put it, ‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter’. So use your voice!

9. Challenge yourself

You often need to do things differently tomorrow from how you are today. If you’ve got your ‘head down and bum up’ all day long, knocking off your to-do list, how will you be able to assess what you need to do to get ahead?

Continue to challenge yourself and ask, ‘If what got me here won’t get me there, what do I need to be doing now to step up and succeed?’

10. Believe it’s worth it

To make any kind of long-lasting change, you need to see that the benefits of engaging in the new behaviour far outweigh the outcomes from maintaining the old behaviour. You need to believe change is worth it — because it really is.

About Michelle Sales

Michelle Sales is a highly sought-after speaker, trainer, facilitator and coach who helps senior leaders and their teams learn to show up as the best version of themselves, to build their confidence and influence with others, and to maximise their leadership and performance. She is the author of the book ‘The Power of Real Confidence’. Find out more at

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