Confidence and performance are closely linked. To uncover the tactics that will help you regain your mojo and thus get back on track, it is useful to know what confidence is and where it originates.

How Do We Gain Confidence?

Confidence is a game of momentum. Being able to project confidence enables people to believe in you, setting you up for success, and that success brings even more confidence. Your level of confidence not only determines the expectations people have for you, it also determines the expectations you have for yourself. Those expectations then set the limit on your performance. And the way you perform affects the confidence you have in your abilities.

Consider these two quotes:

  • “Nothing builds self-esteem and self-confidence like accomplishment.” –Thomas Carlyle, writer in the 1800s
  • “There’s nothing better for building confidence than learning you can do something you thought you couldn’t.” –Amy Chua, Yale law professor and author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

Does that mean the converse is also true?

  • Nothing defeats self-esteem and self-confidence like failure.
  • There’s nothing better for defeating confidence than learning you can’t do something you thought you could.

Why Do We Lose Confidence?

A grand failure, a series of mistakes, or a problem that leaves you stumped can really shake your confidence. If confidence is a game of momentum, then you want to thwart any potential cycle of failure before it takes on a life of its own. Habitually failing to project confidence prevents people from believing in you, limiting your success, and that lack of success robs you of opportunities to build your confidence. The earlier you attempt to recover from a setback, the easier it is to do so.

How to Regain Confidence and Trust

Here’s another way of thinking about it: The confidence you feel internally—that sure feeling that makes you feel safe to take a risk—is trust. Trusting yourself. The same way you would build trust with other people is the same way you can build up confidence within yourself:

Go External: (credibility) get a pep talk from someone who has seen you overcome something.

Move Forward: (don’t place blame) focus on what you will do differently next time.

Be nice: (respect) use positive language or only constructive criticism.

Earn it Back: (prove it) set a goal, develop new skills, put in some work, and achieve something else.

Your relationship with yourself is a life-long one affecting your career, your family, your friends, and your happiness. Put in the work to create an environment of trust, rebuild when it breaks down, and commit to following through on the promises you make to yourself.