Confidence. Do you fake it, own it or overdo it?

We all suffer from lack of confidence at times so we asked David Brown, Group Leader of Drive Huntingdon and owner of Potentiality Coaching  how to build authentic confidence from the inside out.

David has a lifelong interest in living organisms and has a BSc in Biochemistry, an MPhil (Sci) and has worked in neuroscience research at Cambridge University. He now specialises in helping people to make the mind body connection to build confidence.

This is a compilation of the live Q&A in the Ask the Expert hour.

Define Confidence

Q. How do you define confidence, David? As in when you “gain confidence”, what changes in or about a person?

David Brown The word confidence comes from the latin “confidare” which means truth. Confidence comes from living your truth. Living with integrity, honesty, authenticity. Coming from this place you feel more powerful, you look and feel more confident and are at peace.

This is the essence of confidence from the inside out. What is your truth, your integrity, your justice? Violate these and you lose strength and belief in yourself. I physically demonstrate these in my Moving Meditation classes as way of showing how important it is to hold to your values and truth.

When people speak about confidence, they think about faking it until they make it. I’d rather work with the person where they are right now, with all their strengths, doubts, fears, skills and talents. We can still be successful and have fear. We can still be content in life and have doubts. I think it’s important for people to get a handle on what truly drives them, and that gives them confidence to do what needs to be done regardless of the doubts and fears they might have.

Peaks and troughs

Q. Confidence waxes and wanes (for me anyway) – how do you know when a peak or trough is more than just the natural cadence – what would you look for as triggers to do something about it?

David Brown Yes, I think confidence does wax and wane. If you step out of your comfort zone, you will inevitably feel nervous about taking action. I think confidence comes from doing these things anyway over time, and showing yourself through example that you can do it in spite of your doubts and fears. If your confidence wanes for “too” long, perhaps you are stepping too far out of your comfort zone and so it feels overwhelming. Try choosing something less challenging…. take the first, small step and build from there.

Q. How much confidence does one need to have?

David Brown Perhaps an easier question to ask is “How do I achieve what I want in life?” By taking the steps required, you build in confidence over time which builds you up to take on the next challenge. It is an ever growing thing I think.

Q. I find it’s easier for me to do something challenging if I have a clear goal. And I allow myself to make lots of mistakes by doing something new and learn from the process

David Brown We learn most from failure and making mistakes. Often this is confused with lacking confidence or worth. A reframe is often important for people to allow themselves to grow.


Q. It must be difficult for someone to realise or accept that they need help with confidence, and a whole level of trust needs to exist for them to come to you David. It’s not quite doctor/ patient but not far off. How do you manage that stumbling block?

David Brown There is nearly always an obstacle to people making changes. They find it challenging and resist it because they have an investment in keeping things the same. I ask people, “What is it costing you to stay as you are? Is it your career, your relationship, health etc.?” They have to see the benefits of changing because it’s not easy, although the results are worth it! Confidentiality is essential of course and everyone I work with is assured of that.

Coaching confidence

Q. In my role as a Recruitment Consultant, I am working with people every day with confidence issues.  I think that many of us associate being confident with being loud and ‘out there’.  People that aren’t naturally that way inclined sometimes describe themselves as lacking in confidence, when that’s not the case at all….  How would you advise me to coach someone that has written themselves off as having zero confidence; how could I get them to take action to recognise traits in their personality that actually DO show confidence, just in a different form…?

David Brown I might start with getting them to review what they have achieved and begin the process of seeing every little success as something to celebrate. Getting people to recognise and reward themselves for these is essential. It builds self- confidence and appreciation for one’s own gifts, talents and abilities.


Q. What suggestions would you be able to share for working with someone who is so confident that they are perceived as arrogant by others?

David Brown Confidence is a balance. True confidence has presence that gives other people space and freedom to be themselves. If it stifles other people and makes them feel small it is not true confidence – it is arrogance. These people have work to do on themselves to be more vulnerable and visible and open to others.

Arrogant people need to be heard. That can be hard. Realising they are actually lacking in confidence and trying to cover it up is really helpful. Seeing it from their perspective and getting inside what is really going on helps too. In martial arts, the most scared people are the ones that are most arrogant and showy. It’s the same in life. Be kind, be gentle and strong and firm and they will relax and feel less like they have to prove themselves.

Q. I like the martial art analogy. I use a tool called Mastering the Art of Vebal Aikido to help people to be more assertive which is really effective as it is emotions based.

Finding your Happy Place

Q. I’ve recently spent a lot of time with a client helping them to communicate the benefits of gardening as a therapy to reduce stress, improve mood etc., etc. Do you have any particular tips for ways to help people find their happy place? I find walking my dog a really good way to clear my mind, re-organise and prioritise what I need to do. Sport, pilates and mindfulness are all other great tools I use too.

David Brown The mind / body connection is very important. When we strengthen the body the mind feels more confident and vice-versa. This is reflected in the way people perceive us and affects our energy and our presence and much more.

Courage comes from Coeur, the French for heart. Living from the heart and being passionate about what you are doing can give you real confidence.


If you’d like to explore any of theses issues in more depth you can contact David at

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