Redefining confidence

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Everyone shared what they think of when they hear the word confidence.

Myths around dominant narratives of confidence

We split into smaller groups to discuss myths of confidence that we need to unlearn based on the initial impressions noted, and to capture them. Common patterns that emerged:

  • Can't be open to failure/confidence makes you right
    • making mistakes is amazing
  • Validation — you don't need other's validation, confidence doesn't need to be earned
  • Unlearn that it's innate: either you are/ ain't confident
    • It's not innate for specific groups — white males.
    • There are techniques and practices to help instill confidence. I.e. power poses, breathing exercises
    • What appears as confidence could be an example that the environment is safe for someone
  • Confidence doesn't grow in isolation but in community
    • Someone else's confidence doesn't diminish your own — it's not a scarce resource
  • Unlearn that confidence doesn't automatically make you right, that you know everything
    • An extreme level of confidence is sociopathic
  • Confidence and different ways in which we express it is not universal, they're contextual.
    • Example when people apologize when bringing up something in certain cultures, is seen as lacking confidence, but also an accepted norm for social softening.
    • However, this can also be part of an oppressive hegemonic structure i.e. patriarchy.
  • The version of confidence that we've been given is unattractive — it's selfish
    • Overall skepticism that confidence is merely a tool,

What participants defined as what was confidence for them

  • What you're thinking of at a particular time is valid
  • Knowing that how I present to others is genuine or enough, feeling comfortable in your own skin, belong, worthy and deserving
    • Quiet, deep, strong, present, leadership
  • Feeling safe
    • Being vulnerable
    • Providing but not projecting — confidence less as a internal but community
  • Feeling that you can achieve something that is daunting


  • There isn't one definition, it's how you approach things — it's how you can achieve your own goals, have confidence in yourself other people, and your community.
  • It's a practice
  • Relationship to leadership — the current way in which we view confidence and it's relationship as a leadership quality needs change