Why confidence is a mythical creature

With the concept of confidence, we are all chasing a mythical idea that just does not exist in reality. We think if we could only be more confident we could:   

  • Get a better job  
  • Get a partner  
  • Be more attractive 
  • Create exciting experiences 
  • Have more friends  
  • Get that promotion  
  • Go travelling  
  • Have more adventures 
  • Be happy  

The last is the most common, and perhaps the saddest, because we are connecting our future happiness to our belief that, at present, we lack some quality which in reality does not exist. We are measuring our lives against an unachievable goal, or a perpetually moving target.  

Confidence does not exist in the traditional way we think of it (the myth). We can be slaves or masters to how our brain interprets and understands the world around us (the mindset). By focusing on the tangible outputs of what we are merely hoping for from ‘confidence’, such as impact, influence, and passion, then we will achieve great things (the mastery).  It is these aspects I have focused on in my new book Confidence Shmonfidence – Why Confidence is a Myth and How to be Super Successful Without It.  

The Notion of  ‘Absolute Confidence’  is Total Nonsense.   

Not a single client I have ever worked with has had across the board confidence, and there are some super talented people in that population.  

What we need is just a slight adjustment of perspective. Focusing on becoming confident is never going to be the answer, and chasing it as an objective is futile. It is important for us to accept that confidence is not a trait some are born with. It is not something you should strive to build through self-help gimmicks or books which promote the idea that you can ‘achieve it’ as a final destination. Dropping the concept of ‘confidence’ as a character trait that you don’t have, or you don’t have enough of, will let you begin to be kind to yourself. It will free you to approach your performance from a different perspective: one that emphasises your strengths, not simply overcoming weaknesses or shortcomings that arise from meaningless terms like ‘confidence’.   

I have been a Chartered Psychologist and Behavioural Specialist for nearly twenty years. I have conducted thousands of psychometric assessments, cognitive assessments, and neurodiversity assessments. I have coached senior leaders in top global organisations and run thousands of behavioural training sessions in Impact, Influence, Assertiveness, Leadership, Unconscious Bias, Negotiation and Conflict Resolution to name a few, and what I know is this: everyone wants to be confident; everyone has it in some area or another but not across the board; and everyone assumes everyone else has it. It is like some odd mythical creature you hear about from childhood that only turns up in business self-help fantasy books. ‘Become Confident Today’ or ‘Tips for Becoming Confident’ create the popular perception it exists, and we don’t have it. So let’s let go of that concept and get this off our chests today:   


Learn more on how to shift the focus from confidence to impact in Cheryl Isaacs new book ‘Confidence Shmonfidence: Why Confidence is a Myth and How to Be Super Successful Without It’ – being released December 2021. 


October 30, 2021