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How to improve and build your self-confidence

Layne Beachley

Layne Beachley explores why it's such an important trait

Layne Beachley sitting at the bottom of the stairs at the beach
Layne Beachley sitting at the bottom of the stairs at the beach

My dance card is pretty full. I’m a world champion surfer, live TV presenter, businesswoman and motivational speaker, yet each of these roles I currently fulfil emanated from humble beginnings and failure.

I placed dead last in the first several events I competed in, experienced stage fright on my first live TV appearance, had five failed clothing brands and received a formal written complaint after presenting my first motivational speech.

How many times have you wanted to take a huge leap but fear prevented you from doing so? There is no such thing as certainty, there is only this moment. A moment of intention, a desire to try something new. So how and where can you find the confidence to leap? I’m here to tell you that with a bit of discipline and dedication, it’s possible to develop the confidence you need to face any fear head-on.

Let’s explore why confidence is such an important trait and how you can improve and build your self-confidence.

Why is self-confidence important?

Self-confidence is the foundation for all success and achievement, and it consists of four elements: exposure, failure, reflection and compassion.

We often hear the term 'comfort zone', which refers to a psychological state where things feel familiar and accessible, where we feel as though we are always in control. I’ve actually renamed my comfort zone my control zone. If I feel like I’m always in control, I’m no longer growing, and the only sign of life is growth.

Awareness of this enables me to step outside of this belief of 'control' and expose myself to an opportunity that challenges me, scares me or expands my sense of self. It can be as simple as tasting food I had convinced myself I didn’t like, asking a question I had judged as stupid or surfing waves that challenge me.

Do you notice the two common themes here? My confidence is developed through awareness and action. It’s awareness of my fear-based thoughts and choosing to act, despite feeling fearful. If we believe in our ability to live and learn, to figure things out as we go, we will naturally build confidence.

Ways to become more confident

1. Attempt something new (especially if it scares you)

Regularly exposing yourself to your fears expands your capabilities and your character. Running or hiding from life’s challenges temporarily induces feelings of safety and control, which often feeds the fear and makes it worse.

One of the most common experiences in life is feeling uneasy about a situation, and the most common response to this is to avoid the situation. The avoidance is self-sabotage. Conversely, doing something new or confronting a fear expands your self-worth resulting in greater levels of confidence.

2. Embrace failure

Failure is the stepping stone to success, yet you will do everything in your control to avoid it if you fear it. If you are physically able to walk unassisted, you have achieved walking through failure. Our first steps taken as toddlers failed as we fell back on our bums. We didn’t judge ourselves as failures. We pushed back up onto our two feet and wobbled until we figured it out.

Learning how to lose taught me how to win. Failures in sport, relationships and business, taught me how to succeed. Whenever you do something new, the most challenging thing to cope with is failure. Yet, what we perceive as failure is actually valuable information and feedback.

3. Accept setbacks as learning opportunities

If you aren’t winning, you’re learning. Setbacks are to be expected and can help shine a light on our potential.

Choosing to study a loss or setback became one of my competitive advantages because this prevented me from being defined by failure, enabled me to learn valuable lessons and empowered me to make changes and apply the lessons to my life. When I chose to reflect, it prevented me from repeating mistakes. This action drastically changed my view of myself and supported my growth and success, exponentially increasing my self-confidence.

4. Be guided by those you trust

You don’t have to build self-confidence on your own. Trusted sources such as a coach, mentor, leader or partner can provide crucial perspective by shining a light on our blind spots, sharing constructive feedback and listening through compassion to show us who we are. Perspective also assists us in navigating through challenging times.

5. Manage your emotions

When we say things to ourselves, such as 'I’m not good enough, not worthy enough or smart enough', we are deeply rooted in shame. It’s a painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and unworthy of connection, love and belonging. Empathy and self-compassion are the antitheses to shame.

You can’t find self-worth or self-compassion externally – it all comes from within

6. Change your outlook on life by finding self-worth and self-compassion

The relationship we have with ourselves sets the tone for every other relationship we have.

You can’t find self-worth or self-compassion externally – it all comes from within. The fastest way to silence our inner critic and replace it with our inner fan is to utilise the power of ‘I am’. Why is ‘I am’ so powerful? Because what you put after these two words shapes your reality. They’re a declaration to the universe, and how you use the words ‘I am’ determines how you feel about yourself.

Shining a light on the negative ways I use ‘I am’ enables me to change the language and reassure myself with powerful affirmations which fuel my confidence, connect me with my core beliefs and create certainty of action. If you want things to change, first, you have to change. And it’s as simple as changing your internal dialogue.

Here is my daily mantra, my accountability partner, my honesty barometer: 'I am happy, I am healthy, I am fit, I am strong.'

You may be imperfect, you may be full of struggle, but you are worthy of love, connection and belonging. You are enough when you choose to believe it. Find the positive affirmation-based version of your life written by your inner fan, not by your inner critic.

7. Focus on your passions

Break free of the life you have lived and open yourself up to the life you love. What drives you? What makes you excited to get out of bed in the morning? What lights you up on the inside? Spend some time focusing on what you’re passionate about and take steps to challenge yourself in a direction that will fulfil your deepest desires.

Every acorn has within it the potential to become an oak tree but not every acorn becomes one. Not because the potential isn’t there, but what is required to turn an acorn into an oak tree is not nurtured or sustained over time. You have everything you need in potential, and you need to create the proper conditions over time.

The greatest gift you can give yourself is committing to your passions and what is suitable for you.

Only by honestly knowing yourself can you develop greater self-belief and own your truth.

My challenge to you to build your confidence

I want you to start seeing yourself as the architect of your own life rather than the victim of circumstance. Things will always happen that you can’t predict, so the way you respond and define these moments will define you. The opportunity here is for you to apply the lessons you have learned throughout your life, utilise what resonates with you, let go of what doesn’t and live your life by your design.

5 steps you can take to boost your self-confidence

  1. 1

    Take action in any form toward something you’re passionate about. Remember that action is the antidote to fear.

  2. 2

    Embrace setbacks and failure as stepping stones to success. I can’t think of a single person who hasn’t failed on their way to success.

  3. 3

    Reflect, analyse and apply any lessons you’ve learnt along the way.

  4. 4

    Remember, compassion begins with the self and the way you talk to and about yourself matters. Change the words you speak, and you will change your reality.

  5. 5

    Create an ‘I am’ mantra and repeat it daily.

Does this resonate with you? Are you ready to take the next step to develop confidence? Join me at Awake Academy where you will learn all my life lessons and tips to transform your life. If you’re an nib member, I’m offering you $100 off the Own Your Truth Course. You can access the discount and sign up via nib Rewards today. Let’s do this.

Love Layne xx

Layne Beachley

World champion surfer Layne Beachley

Layne Beachley with her arms out as she sits on her surfboard in the middle of the ocean

Layne Beachley

Layne Beachley is regarded as the most successful female surfer in history. Her dedication to success sees her as the only surfer, male or female, to claim six consecutive world titles between 1998 and 2003. Layne went on to win a 7th world title in 2006 before retiring from the World Tour in 2008.

Layne is an ambassador for various charities, a passionate environmental campaigner, Chairperson of Surfing Australia and an Officer of the Order of Australia.

She recently launched Awake Academy; an online self-empowerment platform offering a no BS transformation to awaken people to detach from fear, take control and design a life they love. It includes 40 years of life lessons from a world champion, distilled into a self-paced seven-round online course, empowering people to find their edge and fulfil their potential.

Layne surfs every day, loves rosé, and her biggest weakness is hot chips.