How to boost your confidence - one tiny step at a time.

Hi, I'm Pete Mosley. I'm a coach, speaker and author of The Art of Shouting Quietly – a guide to self-promotion for introverts and other quiet souls. Extrovert or introvert, quiet or loud, confidence can be an issue for all of us. Here, I explore how we can build confidence, slowly and surely, one tiny step at a time.

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If you'd like to steadily increase your confidence, but you are not sure how, here's a simple approach that gets results.

When the brain is rewarded unexpectedly, the neurotransmitter dopamine surges, prompting the Limbic 'reward system' to take note in order to remember how to replicate the positive experience.

Why is that important? Well, it opens the door for us to take control of this mechanism and use it to boost our own confidence - one tiny step at a time.

As long as we're noodling around in our comfort zone, very little learning takes place. Once we step outside - into the stretch zone, all sorts of opportunities emerge. In respect of gaining confidence whilst addressing others - one to one, in small groups and eventually one to many - we can set tiny goals with minimum risk, try them out in low anxiety contexts, and the tiny surges of exhilaration we experience re-set our memory of what we believe to be possible. Next time we try something new, we set the bar a tiny bit higher, then higher still. This is not about beating or overcoming fear, by the way. It is about becoming more confident in the way we adapt to our fears and begin to view them differently. 

The interesting thing about this is that the same mechanism is responsible for the development of addiction. Taken to extremes this behaviour can be damaging. But thankfully, we're not heading in that direction.

This graphic explains the cycle of behaviour we can adopt in order to move from low confidence to progressively higher levels of confidence.

Most of us live life in our comfort zone, taking very few risks. Consequently, little changes. If we want to get a lasting boost in confidence, and feel that we are making progress, you need to move into your stretch zone - in other words, try unfamiliar or challenging things. That involves a little bit of fear. If we can try something new - however small the step - we generally feel good as a result. The brain gets its dopamine reward. The exhilaration we feel helps create a memory of a new level of confidence. It's a virtuous circle of growth.

If you have very low confidence, you can grow it by doing remarkably simple things. Imagine walking down the street, smiling broadly at the next person that comes towards you. It might feel a bit weird, but take a deep breath, catch someones eye, and smile. There's a good chance they will smile back. And when that happens you'll get a real boost from it. Or next time you are at the checkout say hello to the person on the till and ask them how they are. People so rarely show any interest in them so you are likely to get a really positive response. You'll feel good and your confidence will get a nice little boost too. Then move on to a slightly bigger challenge, then another. Try it! Over time, this technique really makes a difference.

Here's your challenge.

N.B. Avoid 'comparison-itis' - this is not about being as good as or better than anyone else. Not at this stage, anyway!

  • First - be honest with yourself about your current level of confidence.
  • Second - decide what a 'next level' challenge might be for you. 
  • Third - identify a suitable opportunity for a 'next level' test run.
  • Fourth - recruit a sympathetic friend to cheer you on and offer encouragement. 
  • Fifth - Do it, and if necessary, repeat this stage until you are happy with the result. 

Prepare well, by visualising every step of the way. Check things out well in advance. 

Good luck!


If you have found this post helpful, and would like to explore the issues raised in more depth. please don't hesitate to get in touch. We can arrange an exploratory call at your convenience.

Pete Mosley PCC

Coach/Speaker/Writer, The Art of Work

I work with quiet, thoughtful and purpose-driven individuals to help build confidence in both life and work, for example by supporting them to find a voice, speak up, pitch or talk in public without feeling intimidated by louder voices. As a reflective person myself, I'm drawn towards working with others who find the cut and thrust of everyday life to be a challenge. I also help business owners work out how to promote themselves and build an audience for their work. I'm a graduate of the acclaimed Barefoot Postgraduate Certificate in Business & Personal Coaching, and I now teach for Barefoot. My book - The Art of Shouting Quietly - a guide to self-promotion for introverts and other quiet souls – has sold in 25 countries around the world. I'm very experienced - I have 15 years of track record as a mentor in the Creative Industries prior to training as a coach in 2008. Please don't hesitate to get in touch - I'm always happy to talk with you about coaching/mentoring on the phone - with no obligation.