How To Build Confidence

Posted: Saturday April 23 2022

By: Abbie Coleman

“A woman is like a tea bag: you never know how strong she is until you put her in hot water.”

How to build confidence

By Sport & Beyond

At Sport and Beyond one of our key clients is the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust. The Trust’s Mission is to get young lives on track by using world class athletes to empower young people facing disadvantage to realise the attitudes they need to fulfil a positive life.  Through ground-breaking research, the Trust has come up with five key attitudes that the athletes exhibit, and which they can accelerate and amplify in the young people they work with.

These are:


In this blog we are going to focus on the fourth one, Confidence.

 “The men I work with just seem to have this belief that they can do things.  I don’t have that and it’s frustrating as I feel like it’s holding me back.”

 “I know I can do a good job, I just wish I had more confidence in myself.”

 “I need to build up my confidence so that I can do a better job for my team – they need to have belief and confidence in me, so I need to have it in myself.”

These are just some of the things that women we have worked with have said to us.  Do any of these resonate?

It’s always important to be aware of gender stereotyping, but confidence does seem to be an area where women could do with a bit of catching up!  We sympathise and get frustrated in equal measure; sympathise because we understand the reasons behind the lack of confidence, but get frustrated that the women don’t feel the confidence they deserve to.

Let’s take a look at some of the things that we know help to build that all important confidence, and then acknowledge some of the barriers.

Know Yourself 

“Before you can be someone, you need to know who you are.”

I can’t stress how important this is.  I worked as a corporate lawyer for 13 years. The legal fraternity is not perhaps renowned for being the most self-aware set of people. However, doing a work-focused behavioural profile, which then triggered me to spend some proper time to understand my strengths and the way I operate at work, was a revelation.  My areas of best contribution are working with and through people, and achieving results. I am not particularly motivated by for example rules and procedures, or the need to feel secure.  Understanding this gave me a much better picture of ‘who I am’ at work, what my strengths are, and where I should be focusing my energies.  Whilst still in law, this meant a focus on client relationships. It then led me to set up Sport and Beyond…..

This is why the first step of all that we do at Sport and Beyond is a behavioural profile (we use profiles from the Thomas International suite as they are robust, accessible and extremely reliable).  It drives the first of our three key aims: UNDERSTAND.

Build Confidence

So how does this then drive an increase in confidence, and what other follow on steps can help?

Leveraging your strengths

Once you understand your strengths, leveraging them and building on them will enable you to perform at a higher level, and so build your confidence.  The belief in spending learning and development time on building on your strengths, rather than focusing too much on your weaknesses, is gaining greater currency within business. Peter Drucker has said that we should waste as little effort as possible on improving areas of low competence. It takes far more energy and work to improve from competence to mediocrity than it takes to improve from first-rate performance to excellence – and yet most people in most organisations concentrate on making incompetent performers into mediocre ones.

What and Why

Often we lack confidence and are nervous about something but we are not sure why.  It might be a presentation we have to give. Or it might be a big meeting the next day.  Sure, it’s a big meeting, but have you analysed why you are actually nervous?

The What and Why process helps many our clients.  We get you to consider what you are nervous about, and why.  So yes, it might be nerves before the meeting, but what in particular are you worried about? Is it that you might not present yourself well? Or is it that you won’t get the outcome you want? Or something else? Once you’ve drilled down, we then help with how to deal with the concern, and build confidence around it.


“Just because it’s common sense doesn’t mean that it’s common practice.”

Sometimes the simple things are worth repeating, over and over again.  Whatever you are doing in life, the more prepared you are, the more confident you can feel going into it.  This doesn’t mean that you have to have all the answers (which is impossible) but it does mean that you have planned and prepared for the task in hand.


“You draw from your experiences. You draw from your failures. And every day is a learning day.”

Those of you reading this with many years of work under your belt can smile at this point. One of the great things about getting older is the experience that you have gained. However, there is a proviso to this. You have to use that experience wisely, and make sure that you continually learn from it.  Don’t rest on your laurels. The quote above is from Victoria Pendleton, the Olympic gold-medal winning cyclist who gave herself a year to convert to being a jump jockey, speaking the week before her (successful) big race.

Challenge yourself

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

Having that growth mindset, a willingness to challenge yourself and accept that you might fail, is a whole topic in itself, but is key to building up confidence.

Threats To Confidence

So what can knock our confidence? What can challenge our ability to feel confident in who we are and what we do?  It’s important to consider what these areas might be, so that you can deal with them and drive forward.  For each and every person it differs but common themes include:

  • Levels of self-esteem;
  • Others around you;
  • Lack of experience;
  • Too high expectations;
  • Lack of a strategy; and
  • Focusing too much on what has gone wrong.

Acknowledging what it is that’s holding back your confidence, gives you the power to then address it.

I will give the final word to Eleanor Roosevelt as this sums up something that we also see time and again with women – when under pressure, the goods are produced.

“A woman is like a tea bag: you never know how strong she is until you put her in hot water.”