Today, I turn 27.
Up until a year ago, I struggled with self-confidence at work:
I never shared my point-of-view
I avoided presenting and public speaking
I found speaking up in the room incredibly difficult
I steered clear of meeting new people and starting conversations with strangers
The internal struggle was difficult. But what was perhaps harder was my inability to act on the feedback that I needed to be more ‘confident’. I just didn’t know how.
Growing up in Asia, and living there for two decades conditions you to approach life a certain way. You’re taught to respect your elders—to not challenge or disagree. Conformity, obedience, and cooperation—not individuality—are of paramount importance. So without surprise, my time there primed me to just listen, keep to myself, and not rock the boat.
North America, in contrast, rewards boldness, creativity, and the democracy of ideas. When I moved to Canada and the United States, I found myself in situations where I was forced (and empowered) to adapt to new values.
Two years ago, I took on an opportunity that required influencing and leading those more experienced and older than me. As the youngest on the team, I struggled with ‘imposter syndrome’ and a lack of self-confidence. But thanks to this and other experiences where I had to coach, mentor, and influence others, I was able to put together a playbook for self-confidence.
Today, I’d like to share it.
Here’s how you can build your self-confidence in work and life:
1. Find your niche.
Gaining experience and developing skills require time. It takes years of learning and practice. But knowledge is different—anyone can be a subject matter expert, even in a short period of time.
With the right tactics, we can leverage digital tools to build domain expertise and increase our depth of knowledge. In fact, some of the best marketers and operators I know are in their 20s.
The key to doing this well is to find your niche—a skill or interest you have (and love) that others also value.
Once you’ve found your niche, you’ll gain self-confidence from consistently sharing, coaching, and teaching what you know.
2. Curate to create value.
You can instantly create value through connecting the dots.
Curate people by making introductions, connecting people, and bringing individuals together.
Curate resources by gathering knowledge in the form of books, videos, podcasts—and organizing and simplifying the knowledge in a format that is relevant and useful to your community.
Others will respect your judgment, resourcefulness, and view you as a super-connector—a valuable member of the community.
3. Be great at execution.
Strategy may sound sexy, but ideas are cheap and everyone has them. It’s the individuals who roll up their sleeves and do the hard things that are held in high regard.
Once you’ve built a reputation as someone who can deliver—someone who is accountable and dependable—you’ll garner the respect of many.
“To me, ideas are worth nothing unless executed. They are just a multiplier.
Execution is worth millions.”
— Steve Jobs
4. Get out of your head.
Our monkey mind drives the self-doubt, anxiety, and irrational fears that plague us. It tells us we’re not good enough, that we’re not capable—that we can’t do it.
The easiest and most effective way to escape your negative brain chatter is to get out of your head and into your body. Get moving.
Take a walk around the block. Go for a run in the morning. Spend a few hours playing an outdoor sport in the sun. Allow your body’s natural endorphins to take over.
We were designed to be active, and we’re not—tension develops.
5. Stop giving a sh*t about what others think.
I live by the reminder ‘Memento Mori’ meaning ‘remember you must die’.
It tells us that we are mortal—that our time on this earth is finite.
So finite to the point that in a century, we’ll be gone. In a millennium, nobody will remember our names. And in a Decem millennium, our species may not even exist. So why does it even matter?
Stop giving a sh*t about things not worth giving a sh*t about.
I came to this realization recently and it’s been a 10x unlock for my life. Anytime you find yourself over-thinking, ask yourself: does this really matter?
“The eyes of others our prisons; their thoughts our cages.”
― Virginia Woolf
But remember, there is a difference between confidence and arrogance. Be confident, self-assured, grounded—but also respectful, considerate, and kind.
Whichever stage of your life you’re at today, i hope these ideas serve you.
If you’d ever like to chat about this topic, my calendar is always open.
Hi Andrew, lovely article.
Would like to pick your brain on one concept -
Finding self-confidence in being vs self-confidence in doing: most of the points above are focusing more on things to do to find self confidence. And that at times can be tasking when the things you do don't go your way for a prolonged period or when you are just not able to do these things.
I've always wondered if there can be peace and self-confidence in just being who you are excluding what you do, it's a more sustainable and full proof way to have self confidence through different phases of life.
Would love to chat about this with you!