The Secret of Confident People



“The secret of confidence is focusing on what you can control, not on what you can’t.” – Mira Kirshenbaum

Self-confidence is the key to emotional energy.

Without confidence, everything can feel like an uphill battle or an impossible hurdle.

Instead of a bounce in your step, or springing to action, you drag your feet, or you expect the worst. Just imagine the energy you would get if you knew you couldn’t fail.

In the book, The Emotional Energy Factor: The Secrets High-Energy People Use to Beat Emotional Fatigue, Mira Kirshenbaum writes about the secret of confident people.

Confident People Focus on What They Can Control

There is a way.  But you have to focus on the right thing. In the case of confidence, knowing what to focus on is more than half the battle.

It’s everything!

If you ever feel a loss of confidence or find yourself in the No-Confidence Trap, you need to know how to break out of it. To break out of it, you need to first understand how it works.

Basically, you lose your confidence when you focus on the wrong things.  People that lack confidence focus on the outcomes.  They focus on the times they struck out, their mistakes, their failures, and disasters.

Basically, they focus on the things they can’t control. Confident people on the other hand, focus on what they can control, such as taking action or giving their best.

This one little distinction is the key to building your unshakeable confidence and getting back on the saddle again.

Confidence is the Holy Grail

When it comes to energy, confidence is the key.

Kirshenbaum writes:

“In people’s lifelong journey to improve themselves, confidence is the Holy Grail.  With it, you can walk on water. 

Without it, you’re soggy toast.  That’s why we all want it. 

What gives you more emotional energy than confidence, than knowing that you can step up to the challenge and win?”

With great confidence, comes great results.  But it’s the journey and how you approach things that makes the difference.

“Why Try?”

When you don’t have any confidence, you will be emotionally drained.  You’ll expect things to go wrong, and they will, and this will suck you down.

Kirshenbaum writes:

“Loss of confidence is devastating for our emotional energy.  Without confidence, the two most horrible words in the English language take hold of us: ‘Why try?’ 

These words are horrible because they’re the beginning of doom for any enterprise we care about, including love.”

Losing your confidence is one way to feel emotionally drained, as if you can’t win.

Focus on What You Control

Rather than focus on the end-results, focus on the effort you put in and the attitude you choose when you face your challenges.  These are the things you can control.

Kirshenbaum writes:

“The secret of confident people is that they focus on what they know they can do and then they do that in the best way they can. 

And they don’t worry about the outcome.  The batter steps up to the plate.  All he can do is keep his eye on the ball and do his best.

That’s what all the good hitters do.”

Key Takeaways

Here are my key takeaways:

  • A loss of confidence drains you emotionally. Without confidence you can’t see a way out or you approach things half-heartedly.  When you approach things half-heartedly, you lose.  It’s a downward spiral.
  • You can break the No-Confidence Trap if you know how.  The No-Confidence Trap is a vicious cycle: You can’t win without confidence and you can’t get confidence without winning.  However, it’s easy to break out of the No-Confidence Trap, if you know how.
  • Focus on what you control. Don’t focus on outcomes.  You can’t control the outcomes for a situation. To build your confidence, you have to focus on what you control, not on what you can’t.  This is the sure-fire way to break out of the No-Confidence Trap and build or rebuild your confidence.

If you want to improve your energy and your confidence, then focus on what you control.

Don’t fall into the No-Confidence Trap.  If you’re asking yourself, “Why try?”, it’s because you’re focusing on the outcomes instead of what you can control.

Don’t focus on outcomes.

Focus on your actions.

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  1. i think it’s more of not being worried re your outcomes… you simply try to look at your desired outcome from time to time to see if you are anywhere closer..

    sometimes we get confused with the “feedback” that comes with the whole process… i know i do…:)

    perspective shift on where we focus our energy seems to be the right balance because the kind of action we undertake determines where we are headed. thanks for this post!

  2. Hi JD, I think this is excellent advice.

    I have one qualification – that those who been in situations with awful outcomes that they couldn’t control (an abusive parent, a traffic accident and such) probably need other stuff too.

  3. That “No confidence” trap does sap your energy and unless you catch yourself (and your thinking) it can spiral down so quickly! Great take aways!

  4. @ Alik — It’s guide your actions with outcomes, but don’t root your confidence in outcomes — root it in what you control.

    @ Riza — Well put. Outcomes are feedback. The key is to internalize your confidence against the things you control, which is basically your thinking, feeling, and doing.

    @ Evan — Awful outcomes are a significant setback. Interestingly, I’ve seen a common pattern in those that forge ahead. They focus on what they want and they start taking action, even small steps, towards that. Gradually, they rebuild themselves. It’s gradual, but it’s like a snowball.

    @ Michelle — I think that’s the surprise for me how such small changes in thinking pattern make the different between spiraling up or spiraling down.

  5. The variation on this that I’ve used is to “just have fun” which does lower my focus on the outcome. The “enjoy the journey, not just the destination” type of idea here where one can enjoy the process rather than the objective. I remember last Friday, I went out to play cards and didn’t really focus on winning the games as much as I did on just having fun and being open to whatever happens, happens. This can mean I get crummy hands sometimes and that doesn’t get me down, I try to make the best of the situation. Sometimes those big dramatic endings happen when one is taking risks though knowing they aren’t huge risks. I only knew some of the people before that night, but I sensed that it was safe to make a mistake or not be perfect.

    Sometimes it is about looking around and seeing what one does have that can also help. I remember a couple of times when I was driving someplace to think about all the good things I have around me to help me make this trip go a little smoother: The car shelters me from the elements like rain and wind, I have climate control through heating and air conditioning, I have a radio and CD player to listen to music or talk radio or some CD I have, I still have plenty of gas in my car. It did cheer me up a little rather than feel frustrated about all the stuff I couldn’t control like the other drivers.

    This may be very useful to me when I’m down and want something to boost me, think about what I can control and see what happens.


  6. @ JB — I really like your car example. When I take my cross-country trips, my vehicle becomes an extension of me. When I hit some tough places, I had confidence in my ability to make my way through the storms.

    @ Clearly Composed — Good thing it’s just a metaphor — it keeps your toolbox light 🙂

  7. Hi JD .. thanks the ‘focus on the task in hand’ – if we do that task fully focused .. it will be done better, more quickly and give us more satisfaction .. giving us confidence, while freeing us up for further tasks to move our project on.

    Thanks – focusing is something we all need to do properly .. Hilary

  8. @ Hilary — I’m regularly finding myself reminding myself to focus on what I control and let the rest go. This keeps me from forking my energy and instead, put it to good use.

  9. […] Give them confidence. Constantly persuade them to reflect on their mistakes. The creative people are not afraid to make mistakes; they are ingrained in the learning process. […]

  10. […] Give them confidence. Constantly persuade them to reflect on their mistakes. The creative people are not afraid to make mistakes; they are ingrained in the learning process. […]

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