Do This 1 Thing To Develop Lasting Self-Confidence And Self-Esteem

Isn’t it nice this isn’t another long listicle?

I can tell you about power-posing, meditation, positive self-talk, or starting a gratitude journal.

But if you have to do just ONE thing to build self-confidence and self-esteem, do this:

Work on being really, really good at the ONE thing that defines you as a person.

Maybe it’s selling. Maybe it’s cooking. Or coding. Or becoming the all-time leader in Medium claps.

It doesn’t matter what it is as long as it’s the one thing that makes you feel complete as a person.

Find your thing.

For Kobe Bryant, it’s shooting a basketball.

For Elon Musk, it’s making the future of space now.

For Magnus Carlsen, it’s checkmating the world at chess.

For Tyler Durden, it’s soap. (And fighting in underground clubs.)

Simply put, self-confidence is really how you feel about your abilities. Self-esteem, how you feel about yourself.

The former is the building block of the latter.

Let’s start with self-confidence.

How you feel about your abilities isn’t as important as how you feel about the ONE ability you care the most about.

Do you think Kobe Bryant frets if he couldn’t play the cello as beautifully as Yoyo Ma?

Or if Gordon Ramsay flies into a rage if he couldn’t dance like Justin Timberlake?

Nope, they won’t — because it’s not their thing.

Their thing is what drives them, excites them, scares them, emboldens them, challenges them and fulfills them.

They’ve found their thing and they’re very good at it.

And they know it.

Their self-confidence is unshakeable because they know how good they are at what they do.

This doesn’t just apply to elite performers in their fields. It works just the same with ordinary people like you and I.


Your confidence grows when you put in the work to get better at what you do.

Every step forward in your journey to excellence gives you more reason to believe you’ve earned the right to be confident.

When you trust the process of honing your skills and paying your dues, you feel better about your chosen ability.

What this does for your self-confidence spills over to improve how you feel about yourself — your self-esteem.

Here’s why.

a) You’re establishing your identity

Many people suffer from low self-esteem not because they hate themselves, but because they aren’t even sure of who they are. How can you love yourself when you don’t know exactly who you are?

Finding your purpose and working on it changes that completely. You now have your “Why”. Better yet, you’re taking action and working hard on your “Why”.

Together, they show you clearly who you are as a person. This makes it a whole lot easier to like yourself.

b) You’re feeling the pride

When you pursue your goal to get better at a skill, job or role, you activate all the necessary personal assets — even untapped ones. Commitment, resilience, creativity, discipline, values and work ethic are big parts of the process and the outcome.

As you use these personal assets, you develop them in the process. They become stronger and so do you, because you know you have them at your disposal should you need them for anything else in life.

You might be wondering by now, what’s up with the italicized “know”?

“Knowing” matters. Confident people *know* they’re good. Heck, they even know that you know.

This is where “Fake it till you make it” falls shorts in building true self-confidence.

You can strike a power-pose to impress a boardroom full of executives in a big meeting.

You can talk a good game about how you’re absolutely going to crush it in the next hackathon.

You can act important or in demand to fool a headhunter.

The truth is, even if you succeed in faking out the world, you cannot fool yourself.

You *know* you’re not that good. And that — plus the fact you’re a fraud — is more than enough make you feel pretty lousy about yourself. (That thump you just heard in the background is the sound of your self-esteem hitting the floor.)

The “fake it till you make it” strategy has a better alternative. How about you “make it so you won’t have to fake it?”

Being authentic with yourself and with others builds inner confidence. Pretending to be someone you’re not saps any self-confidence or self-esteem you might have had.

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” — Dr. Seuss

So how do you get to be really good at what you do? In a recent blog post, I expanded my thoughts on how to build confidence with three proven and powerful ways (without faking it). You can also learn 10 things you can do immediately to boost your confidence.

To recap, find the one thing that makes your life meaningful and be so good at it you can’t help but feel confident.

Ask yourself:

What’s the one thing makes you go “Hell yeah this is what I do”?

What are you prepared to do to excel in it?

What’s stopping you from doing it now?

If you liked this, you’ll like my free worksheet “Adversity to Advantage” to help reframe challenges and refocus on your goals.