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  • Writer's pictureCommon Good Company

The 5 Ingredients of Self-Confidence


After a decade of agency life I recently had cause to reflect on my experience of building self-confidence and my take on what it really means to be confident.

As a Coach it is a subject that comes up frequently. Understanding the ingredients to build and harness your self-confidence can make all the difference in unleashing your potential in the competitive environment of ad agencies.

Confidence isn’t always as it seems though. When I first entered the industry I was faced with a lot of egos and loud voices and soon came to learn that volume does not equal value, being an extrovert isn’t the same as being self confident and all too many talented introverts are overlooked.

Here are the 5 key ingredients to build your self-confidence:

1. Exercise the muscle


Confidence is practiced and whilst some have an innate confidence about them from an early age, most don’t. As children, typically we require encouragement and an outlet to express ourselves. Whether art, music, sports or performance, it gives permission to take on a persona and to practice in spite of any insecurities. Over time what starts as a facade becomes more a part of us as we grow.

Having been pushed out of our comfort zones our competence and confidence increases.

Repetition is key and just as with any muscle your confidence needs exercising so that after time what once seemed unthinkable becomes more habitual and far less daunting.

2. Know your brand


The advertising industry is one where creating and representing brands is our bread and butter and yet rarely do we consider our own.

We often work with clients on issues of confidence and one of the most important responsibilities as a coach is to create the best environment to raise self-awareness.

Understanding your values, what you stand for and represent is a foundational part of building self confidence. Once you have that you start to develop self belief. After all, confidence should be something we feel rather than a way we act.

3. Know your strokes


Just as it is important to understand your values, so too is it key to be clear on what motivates you. Midway through my career I realised how important it is for me to gain recognition. It provides me with reassurance, fuels my self belief and gives me conviction. What works for me though may be next to useless for someone else, consider an agency highlighting and lauding one of their more introverted team members. They are very unlikely to feel motivated and almost certainly wouldn’t be thankful for it!

Managers should be keyed into this and those working into them prepared to be open about what makes them tick. It needn’t be a difficult conversation but could well be a valuable one.

4. Embrace failure


Businesses are increasingly becoming switched on to the idea of growth mindsets and embracing failure in order to learn. Despite that though it is common to fear failure, especially in competitive, high pressure environments like agencies where the stakes, and budgets are high.

Mistakes are not only inevitable, they’re vital in order for us to learn. Consider cruising through life with no bumps, it would be both unrealistic and unhelpful. With no opportunity to gain perspective we’d be limiting our ability to grow.

Companies play a vital role here in creating the right environment to give permission to fail (see our blog on Psychological Safety for more on that) and as individuals we must be kinder to ourselves and those we’re working with to do the same. Everyone is human and if the last 18 months have taught us anything about leadership it is that good leaders are able to demonstrate their fallibility.

5. Remember - we’re all making it up


Without doubt the best piece of advice I’ve yet to receive. It came from our head of planning relatively early on in my career and is something I frequently remind myself of now.

This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t care or that we’re blagging our way through life. What it does mean though is that it’s easy to assume that everyone else has it sorted, that somehow they have the magic ingredient. What we forget is that in fact we’re all human and, in the grand scheme of things, navigating our first time out.


We’d love to hear what you think too - what techniques do you have to build self confidence?







Alex Barber

Co-Founder Common Good Company




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