The Everyday Guide to Workplace Confidence: Work Hard & Yes, Feel a Little Entitled


Confidence. One very tough customer to master.

If you’ve ever stood tentatively in front of an audience — or felt like an impostor after being praised or promoted — I’d wager those nagging feelings were rooted in your level of confidence.

When you consider confidence in the workplace there are so many platitudes, but few offer honest guidance. How do you truly “believe” in yourself when faced with the career moments that matter most? The situations simply cannot be scaled by rehearsed advice. They cannot be met by memes or empty platitudes.

How do we truly build confidence? Well, I’ve stumbled upon one perspective that may hit a relevant nerve (it stopped me cold).

I don’t often find time for magazines. Yet, when I visit the hair salon, I leave my phone at home and unplug. I thumb through Glamour, Vogue, Allure and they all seem offer their own brand of career advice. One column in particular, shared at Glamour was authored by Mindy Kaling. Granted, she is not a traditional career writer as she’s an actress. However, she has managed to accomplish career-wise what few have in her industry, which I find noteworthy.

Here is her thoughtful (second) response to this question, originally posed by a nervous young girl at a speaking engagement, which she admittedly got all wrong the first time around:

“How did you build your confidence?” Her revised response was direct and unapologetic.It went something like this (I apologize for the choice of words, they were hers and would lose something with an edit).

Work very hard. Know your $hit. Show your $hit. Then feel entitled.

I agree 100% that confidence is rooted in mastery. In experiences. Investing in our core stability. In owning what you bring to the table. Confidence comes from building feelings of self-efficacy. It requires challenge, a fair amount of balanced exploration and failure — mentorship, guidance and exposure.

True confidence includes the notion that we are not entitled to rewards, simply because we desire them. Rewards come with time and hard work.

  • Confidence comes from learning from those around you.
  • It requires patience and the belief that you can learn something from every person and every scenario.
  • It requires adequate feedback and reflection.
  • It is the deeper realization that you can handle the problems (and people) that stand before you.
  • Confidence is earned.

When you practice your craft — confidence is your entitlement.

So try the following:

  • Seek broad experiences and “challenge assignments”.
  • Develop a deep knowledge of your industry and its current experts.
  • Push yourself. Get up when you fall. Alter your course. Rebound.
  • Find a mentor who helps you recognize and invest in your talent.
  • Be aware of the competencies you may require ahead of the “disruption curve”.
  • Continue to learn.
  • Grow.

And then, yes — feel entitled to some measure of success.

Through all this, I suspect that confidence arrives unannounced with little fanfare. It takes hold, then lives in your workplace soul — and cannot be measured by the sum of your individual experiences.

It’s more akin to letting a gorgeous, glistening wave roll over you.

Thanks Mindy.

That clears things up.

What are your thoughts about building confidence? Share them.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist, advisor and coach. Learn more about Core Stability & The Core Training Intensive here.

8 thoughts on “The Everyday Guide to Workplace Confidence: Work Hard & Yes, Feel a Little Entitled

  1. In short, we need to expose the entire journey. The highs and lows. With that brings self-efficacy (which I view as operationalized confidence). I know that the vulnerability has been on the forefront lately. I had the opportunity to pose this same question to a therapist. Her response was that this could leave us open, with a lack of protection. So, we could extrapolate that the answer is “no” for some of us. My interest in Core Stability arose from similar vein of questioning…how do we build that solid foundation that would allow us to put ourselves out there? There are no easy paths to confidence, no “meme” that can catapult your mind into that “strong” space. Being vulnerable requires pre-work IMHO.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So many think confidence is a personality trait. Maybe because they don’t want to admit the amount of work that goes into knowing and mastering your sh*t. By nature, humans gravitate toward what is easiest for us but the easy route never has the greatest outcome. We are watching successful people live our their “glamorous” lives all over media, but rarely do we see their entire sometimes ugly journey and the moments when they were not their most confident. Most don’t show that because it would make them feel vulnerable and maybe not so confident. Can we be vulnerable and remain confident in the same moment? This thought has been nagging me quite a bit lately.


  3. Brilliant! Listening, smiling and being positive … these help in rebounding on the confidence pendulum. In momentum there is always reverse, yet we don’t need to put our energy or concentration there. Leave the negative at the back swing … envision the unknown forward mark.


  4. I agree confidence comes with mastering your craft but at times you must learn to say no and turn your back on all the negative thoughts and people you associate with that norish those negative thoughts.


  5. Good article. Readers who enjoyed this might also enjoy…
    “The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work” 2010
    by Shawn Achor


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s