Earlier this week I did a podcast with a colleague and good friend I do business with, Lucas Pinto.

In that cast we touched on the idea of confidence and while I was going through that it brought up some ideas of my own that I’ve been wanting to expand on. In this episode I’m going to expand a bit on the ideas of Confidence and Self-Esteem.

A lot of my understanding around these two concepts centers around the teachings and writings of Nathaniel Branden and Russ Harris. Both individuals possess doctorates, Dr. Branden in clinical psychology and Dr. Harris in medical school. They have both worked closely with patients in the treatment capacity dealing with mental and emotional health.

Nathaniel Branden was an interesting fellow who I was introduced to by my business coach. He dated Ayn Rand for many years (author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead) and gleans quite a bit of his experience from that relationship as well as his practice with patients treating depression, and other mental health disorders. I think some of the most well-written non-fiction material I’ve ever read in my life has been written by this Nathaniel Branden. His command of the English vocabulary and ability to write is second to none. I think he’s written 17 books on the topic of Self-Esteem. The book I’m most familiar with is his work The Six Pillars of Self Esteem.

Russ Harris was a medical doctor who quickly realized that a large portion of medical problems stem from mental / emotional disease. He’s written several books in the therapy world outlining and helping individuals better understand and apply A.C.T. Therapy and it’s principals. ACT was a therapy I found when I was really struggling with monkey mind and feeling quite lost during some of my more overwhelming days. It works off mindfulness techniques and value-guided actions. My two favorite texts of his are The Happiness Trap and The Confidence Gap.

I’ve gleaned great wisdom from both teachers and along with a lot of trial and error and I’m going to attempt to expand on my understanding at this point into what exactly self-esteem and confidence are as well as how you can build them. Nathaniel has taught me so much about self-esteem while Russ has taught me so much about emotional agility.

Explaining the differences between self-esteem and confidence, self-esteem is how highly you view/admire yourself and your ability to handle life’s challenges; while confidence is more directed competency towards your self-efficacy in specific skills. Confidence is your ability to succeed at a specific trade or task. They can be confused but they are a bit different. A woman that’s confident is largely referring to her confidence in how she may “socially carry” herself, or how confident she might be in front of a camera or how confident she is on stage.

You can have extremely high self-esteem but still lack major confidence in doing a specific skill. And you can be extremely confident in a specific trade/skill but have a major lack of self-esteem. When you have both, you have tremendous power and when you can build both you really have the ability to conquer difficult tasks.

While self-esteem is the sort of foundation from which you view yourself, confidence is often more task labeled.

So how do we build self-esteem, and how do we get more confidence? Let’s take a deeper look..

Building self-esteem and confidence:

1. Learn more about what you’re dealing with. Study these concepts, get some perspective and the basic theories.

2. Know where you are and where you’re going. In order to get where you want to go the first step it often to figure out where you are. From there you can define an outcome in that skill (confidence) or feeling about yourself (self-esteem) that will get pointed on the right direction. Survey yourself on a scale of 1-10 in the area you’re looking to improve upon. Most people unconsciously develop these skills through practice, trial and error, but when you’re consciously looking to build them you need a bit of a better understanding.

3. Building confidence is rather straight forward. You simply study, practice and master a specific skill. Model a master in that skill, find out their recipe, syntax, sequence and then get to work. Through practicing, failing, learning, improving and becoming more certain you can succeed at the skill. Repetition along with a purposeful self-study and improvement regimen will allow anyone to build confidence in pretty much anything.

If I’m working at a given skill I’ll go to Google / Youtube and study the topic and quickly find leaders. From there I’ll look at modeling what it is they’re doing, listening to their feedback. Then for me journaling comes in as an exceptional cheat code to accelerate my progress. Whenever I can set intentions my goals (ahead of time) in my journaling as I recap my areas of success and struggles in that specific task I get more awareness and am better able to map out consciously how to improve.

4. Building Self-esteem is be a bit more complex as it ties into your self-worth and can be more deeply tied to your internal identity. But generally speaking it’s heavily tied to your level of consciousness, personal integrity, self-responsibility, assertiveness, self-acceptance and ability to live purposefully. Keeping your word as well as self responsibility is a post that covers two of these points in more depth. Unlike confidence self-esteem is more internally linked with yourself accepting responsibility for all aspects of your life, consciously living with goals and specific outcomes as targets. Nathaniel Branden is really great at breaking down this topic if much more depth. To actually build it, you need to develop stronger understanding, consistency and practice within the specific pillars of self-esteem.

For self-esteem it’s a very similar to confidence building but more targeted towards the pillars mentioned above. You will grow your self-esteem if you’re keeping your word for yourself more often. The same is if you practice and get better at being more assertive towards yourself and in social settings. Self-esteem is the encompassing concept of all these sub sets of skills. Through being stronger and more confident at each of those individually you collectively build them and improve one’s self-esteem.

If all that’s overwhelming, don’t worry! These topics have been studied for decades and we’re covering them in less than 1,500 words. A quick trick is to aim at trusting yourself enough to know that you can fall down and get back up at whatever situation/skill it is you’re working at. Trust yourself enough to know that you can take a hit and you won’t be out. And trust yourself enough to know that you can learn and improve.

I want to close by mentioning something I picked up from Russ Harris in his book The Confidence Gap. Acquiring confidence is not always about feeling more sure, more certain. A lot of times the most confidence individuals are the ones who are willing to step up, to stretch themselves, to push themselves to that next level in spite of experiencing higher levels of anxiety, fear and unknown. So confidence can be defined as our ability to tolerate that fear, and have courage to go in the face of it. Because here’s the thing, it’s great to develop mastery in a skill – especially one that’s extremely valuable for your life and business. But if you’re constantly feeling certain and at ease, you’re likely not stretching yourself nearly enough to reach for those goals outside your “comfort zone.”

That wraps up this post. If you have questions, comments, thoughts, hit the reply, drop in a comment for others to share on and let us know your thoughts. Until next week, keep crushing.

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  1. […] A core component to sustaining and pushing growth forward is confidence and self esteem. It is the life blood and “Immune System” of entrepreneurship. In this session we dive into resources, as well as topics that relate directly to this often sensitive but critical topic: http://kurtyazici.com/an-entrepreneurs-immune-system-010/ […]

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