Confidence for High Achievers Title Image


For over 20 years, I’ve been working with people across life and business situations. The struggle with confidence cuts across all situations, roles, and revenue thresholds. I’ve learned that people don’t always say, “how can I be more confident?” Sometimes, it is more subtle-“I wonder if I’m getting things right.” “Sometimes I get intimidated by the people around me.” “Sometimes I doubt myself but then get frustrated when I should have listened to myself in the first place.”

You are not alone in the struggle to feel confident.


Confidence Reframe for High Achievers

While life feels better when we feel confident, struggling with confidence can also be a mark of humility, wanting to do things well, and not getting caught up in our own press. Developing higher confidence will NOT turn you into a self-centered or arrogant person. It’s simply a calm feeling, of being at home in your own skin.

If you can work on increasing your belief in yourself while maintaining the attitude that you may not always be right, you’ll be in the sweet spot. Increased confidence helps us to take risks and be our best selves because we’re not trying quite so hard to prove or protect our egos. Continued openness that we don’t have all of the answers helps us to check our own biases and remain open to growth.

Confidence Challenges for High Achievers

“Sometimes feel that I am better than everyone else; I also wonder if I am good enough.”

 High Achievers who struggled to fit in socially during school years feel pressure to win approval.

High Achievers have high expectations of themselves and are ultra-aware of their short-comings.

High Achievers with high personal standards feel like they have to hide their flaws or risk rejection.

Personal confidence is what we believe about our self-worth, apart from our achievement.

Common Mistakes High Achievers Make About Confidence

1. High achievers often believe that if they fix something about themselves, they will be more confident. “I’ll lose weight.” “Another degree will help me.” “I’ll work on my appearance.” While improvement always helps us to feel better about ourselves, strong personal confidence relies on self-value REGARDLESS of our flaws. In fact, this self-acceptance usually is an antecedent rather than a consequence of positive change.

2. Confidence is not arrogance. It is not selfishness. “I don’t want to think too much of myself” is the battle cry of those who feel more secure with low self-esteem. Sometimes it is a genuine concern; sometimes it is an excuse to stay stuck. Personal confidence is an acceptance of strengths AND weaknesses. The acknowledgment and acceptance of one’s weaknesses usually prevent arrogance.

Excerpt on Confidence from Relational Genius Book

When we doubt our worth, we compensate by working hard to be “good enough.” Thus, our confidence is always vulnerable to our momentary wins or lapses. We continuously strive to prove our worth. This striving forms the foundation for the duality in which high achievers know that they objectively perform at a higher level than everyone else, but they simultaneously doubt themselves. When we conflate performance with personal value, we will always wonder if we are measuring up.

Excerpt from Chapter 4: Confidence, Relational Genius: The High Achiever’s Guide to Soft-Skill Confidence in Leadership and Life

Strategies to Increase Personal Confidence for High Achievers


Become aware of the beliefs that undermine your confidence. When did you learn them? What evidence do you have that they are true? What evidence do you have that they are false?

Be Vulnerable with the Right People

I understand that it doesn’t feel good, but being vulnerable helps to grow our internal confidence and optimize our success. Vulnerability allows us to gain emotional support as well as input on items with which we are struggling.

Choose only safe people with whom to be vulnerable. You want to grow a cluster of people who think you are the best thing since sliced bread EVEN if you are a detail-oriented, control freak. You will be able to quickly explain all variables of a situation without masking or self-protecting. This quick disclosure can save you from hours of agonizing and give you the information you need to keep on moving.

Surround Yourself with Positive Support

Become a connoisseur of acquiring positive, supportive friends and colleagues. Supportive relationships increase our personal confidence and help us to reshape our negative self-perception. Distance yourself from people who are negative and critical of other people. Even if they do not say anything critical to you, you will wonder if they are doing so behind your back, and you will be less comfortable in their presence.

Resolve Shame

Most human beings try to avoid negative feelings. When we really mess things up, we emotionally go into a corner, like a small child….or pull the covers over our heads and try not to look at it. Shame is when we feel bad about ourselves as people.

The problem with shame is that the emotion is so painful, that we avoid it, thus preventing problem-solving. Half of our learning is linked to being able to assess what variables caused something to go wrong so that we can correct them for future events. There is a tendency (especially with men) to say “it happened, I can’t change it, it’s in the past.” The problem with this strategy is that the negative emotion is still present and there has been no specific learning about how to prevent it from happening in the future. (Note: saying “I won’t do it again is NOT a specific strategy.”)

Do a Survey

Do a survey. This strategy takes guts but is super-effective. If you are constantly making assumptions about how people see you, ask how they view you. While we are trying to build our own confidence, it can be reassuring to understand that a discrepancy exists between the way we see ourselves and the way others see us.