Building Confidence -- The Skyline of Life

Building Confidence — The Skyline of Life

Confidence, like a building, takes a lot of effort to develop, regular maintenance to keep it in good shape, but just a single blow to destroy it. Here’s how to ensure you’re nurturing — and not abandoning — your confidence to the elements. [Photo by gags9999]

It can take months, years, even decades to build a superstructure or sky rise building. But it can take just minutes to knock it down.

Confidence is a lot like a building. It takes a lot of effort to develop, regular maintenance to keep it in good shape, but just a single blow to destroy it.

Confidence, like a building, requires a plan. It takes a great deal of time and energy to build that beautiful and spectacular skyrise of confidence, but after it’s erected, nature will act like a bully to destroy it. We’ve all seen pictures of the abandoned buildings around the world. They’re falling apart; they’re covered in cobwebs; they’re literally crumbling to the ground. As soon as a building is neglected, it no longer thrives. Like your confidence, it will slowly peel away at the fabric leaving the elements around to destroy it. Over time, nature will work to demolish it, and unless you have a maintenance plan, you’ll be crushed under its weight, and people will walk by and see the cobwebs, the crumbling mortar, and the broken windows.

Confidence, like a building, needs to be nurtured. The grounds need watering, the windows need cleaning, the floors need polishing, the lights need to stay on. It doesn’t matter whether the building is new or old, either way, if it’s well cared for, it will look beautiful and make a powerful statement.

You may be the Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai or the historic Annenberg Hall at Harvard. Either way, your confidence will inspire, impress, and require a ton of upkeep to remain standing.

To prevent our confidence from collapsing, we have to make the decision to step out of our comfort zone and allow ourselves to grow and seek new experiences. As we learn new things, meet new people, and engage with the world around us, we begin to develop self-trust, which leads to a more confident outlook as we view ourselves as interesting and engaging people. In other words, buildings worth looking at, visiting, and exploring.

Once we view ourselves as being interesting and worthy of other people’s attention, we will have developed confidence that isn’t imitated, but authentic. It’s the difference between being cocky and confident.

Once we’ve achieved this, and continue to maintain it, nature doesn’t stand a chance at knocking us down. Sure, we may bend in a storm or sway side to side, but when that storm is over and the wind subsides, we will be standing tall for the world to see.

Now all we have to worry about is outside forces. Terrorists who want to fly an airliner into us. Hoodlums who want to storm the gates of our confidence and take us hostage. Like a building, we need a security plan, a response plan, and the understanding that even if someone tries to tear us down, we may fall, but we will build ourselves back up. We will not go quietly into the depths of the night. We will stand strong. We will fight. And we will engage our enemies, so they know we are not weak. For we are Americans (well, some of us anyway) and even in times of trial and tribulation, we soar high, we take on the enemy, and we never give up.

Sound familiar? It’s the stance America has taken every time someone has attacked one of our buildings and torn it down. We always survive. It may take time to rebuild, but we do it in the face of adversity and continue to let everyone around us know that we can’t be pushed around.

Confidence is like that American building. Once you’ve developed it and nurtured it, you’ve opened yourself up to new experiences and met new people. Those people are tenants in your building. They are there to help you keep standing, to support you, rinse you off when you’re dirty, and keep coming back even after a hard day.

With those tenants, you’ll never be alone. Like the World Trade Center, people will stand by you, and they will fight for you. They will rescue you. And they will stand up to the enemy, standing beside you until your confidence is rebuilt and you’re ready to open the doors again.

It may not take much to tear down a building. But so long as plans are in place to protect it, you know that the building is secure. When you have tenants and visitors who care about that building, it becomes far more difficult to attack it when there is an army guarding it from intruders who don’t belong.

Occasionally People — Including Some That May Be Closest to You — Will Attempt to Tear down the Wall

Whenever you achieve something or create something wonderful, there will be people who will come out of the woodwork to shoot it down. They may be jealous, offended that they didn’t accomplish as much, or it could be that they simply get off trying to tear others down. If you let their words get to you, it’s no different than saying it to yourself, and negative self-talk is something that will never have a positive outcome. Build yourself up instead of tearing yourself down. If you don’t, who will?

Another missile that can take you down is past relationships that ended badly. It may be an ex girlfriend, a former colleague, employee, or boss. They may attempt to stab you in the back, or look you in the eye as they twist the knife. These are people worth avoiding at all costs. No good can come from engaging with them, because if you could salvage the relationship, you likely would have done that already. Instead, avoid them. Don’t let them near your building, because these people will do anything they can to tear down the strongest superstructures simply to embarrass or inflict harm. It’s not justice for any way they may feel slighted by you — it’s revenge.

What Can You Really Do to Build Confidence?

Let’s say you want to be a doctor. You go to medical school, and you graduate and get a job. Well, the difference between being every other doctor and the best doctor in the hospital is that the best doctors never stop growing. They maintain their confidence through knowledge. When they left the classroom, they didn’t stop learning. They started. They spend free time talking with more experienced doctors. They listen to the nurses. They read every book they can, and subscribe to all the journals. When a fellow graduate can’t figure out the illness plaguing a patient, they know that it’s a particular rare disease, because they read about it one night in a dark corner at the library while the other young doctor was at home sleeping.

Now you have confidence. You know you are at the top of your field. Other doctors will seek your advice; patients will beg you to care for them and families will trust you with their loved ones. You will walk to work every day with your head held high, though you will face a certain amount of pain when losing a patient or feel threatened by a less confident colleague. In the end though, your confidence will be so strong, and those in your sphere of influence so loyal, that you will be able to rebound from any force that tries to take you down.

If you find yourself at a crossroads wondering whether to abandon ship and let the building collapse, or whether it’s worth maintaining, consider a few of these tips we teach in our workshops.

Keep a Journal

Write down any negative self-talk — times you question yourself. But rather than just creating a tally of negativity, be sure to include ways to overcome it. Besides the negatives, list off the positives. Start building yourself back up as soon as you’ve been torn down. Self-deprecating commentary is like driving a van of explosives into the basement of your own building. If you find you’re tempted to burn it all down, remember your tenants. Those are your friends, family, and people who care about you — who rely on you.

There is no shame in asking for help. If you’re having a rough day, instead of setting your building on fire, go to the coffee shop next door and ask friends to join you. Get your mind off things, rebuild your confidence, and then write down a story about what happened so when you’re feeling challenged in the future, you can look back and remember how you faced it the time before. As you build up confidence, you’ll notice you start to spend a great deal of time doubting whether you’re entitled to it — or worthy of it.

Use your journal as a way of justifying that worthiness by writing down all the good you see and why you’re worth it. You don’t need to erect a skyscraper overnight. It can take years only to build one floor up at a time.

Score Yourself

Just like your teacher did in school, give yourself a report card each day. Write down a score of how confident you were that day, and what either built up your confidence or tried to tear it down. Then use that and write a small note to yourself on how you can increase that score the following day. Over time this will become your building blueprint and the security plan that will show you how to prevent being torn down when faced with adversity.

Check In with Yourself

Don’t throw away your confidence journal when you’ve finished the last page. Keep it, and use it as inspiration in the future. Read past entries, take note of how you dealt with problems, and remark on your improvements and how you can limit any drawbacks. By checking in with yourself, you can help build confidence over time by seeing how much growth you’ve experienced. How many stories you’ve added onto your skyscraper. In times of hardship, go back and use it as a road map to find the solution and prevent yourself, or others, from knocking you down.


As long as you never stop experiencing life, learning new things, and engaging with others, you will be capable of taking on the world, maintaining your confidence, and being the tallest and brightest building in the skyline of life.