How To Build Confidence From Within And Really Show Up In Work (& Life)

How To Build Confidence From Within And Really Show Up In Work (& Life)

“When you squeeze an orange, you’ll always get orange juice to come out. What comes out is what’s inside. The same logic applies to you: when someone squeezes you, puts pressure on you, or says something unflattering or critical, and out of you comes anger, hatred, bitterness, tension, depression, or anxiety, that is what’s inside. If love and joy are what you want to give and receive, change your life by changing what’s inside.” Wayne Dyer


I love this quote from Wayne Dyer. It really speaks to me in terms of how we THINK, how we SHOW UP, and how we FEEL in our work and life on a daily basis.


How do you FEEL at work?

For me … in the past at work I have at times felt awkward. There was this idea in my mind that I would be “found out.” Other women corporate leaders have shared this same feeling. We felt we were not deserving of the title or job because of some story that we completely made up.

And why is there this “story”? Because I was always looking to be liked or approved or validated by others, I would adapt to the people around me. I FELT that I wasn’t enough on my own but rather used my environment, or boss, or peers to give me that sense of confidence. It was the accomplishment, the promotion, and achievement that gave me confidence. So, it was always an external thing: insert person or reward to fill up my being and make me feel like I was doing a “good” job.

So, who am I without the title or company? Who am I without the result? How am I judging my success?

What happens when our Daily Approach to achieve any goal does not include a STRONG INTERNAL CORE? Well, what happens is we are at the mercy of whomever and whatever external factors are around us, like environment, a boss, and peers.

When external factors are driving our sense of confidence, it’s easy and likely that we will go off course. Why? Because someone else is driving our sense of confidence. We gave them our keys to our self-worth.

Let’s go back to Wayne Dyer’s quote: it’s about what is on our inside. Building confidence from the inside is the sustainable approach to improved performance at work. Let’s pretend we are oranges: we show up to work as an orange and what we produce is “orange juice”. We aren’t at the mercy of waiting for approval from someone else to tell us that we, in fact, are an orange. We just offer what we are into the world.

To serve our best selves in work, to be in full service of others, we must build our self-worth from the inside out. To be raw and real is our greatest gift to us and to the world.


Action #1: How do you FEEL?

Recognize where you are filling up your confidence on a daily basis.

How much confidence comes from external factors (social media, affirmations, other people) versus internal self-love (you, you, you)?

How do you feel when confidence comes from external factors versus internal? Does it matter to you where confidence comes from?

How can you build confidence from within? How can you embrace that feeling of being different?

Be your own self-worth entrepreneur – your own startup of YOU.

Be aware of your confidence, how and where you get it, and when it goes down or up.

Build your own inner confidence so THAT becomes your compass.


How do you SHOW UP at work?

How we show up matters. Let’s pretend again we are oranges. And you, as an orange, land in a box of lemons. You stick out. You are very different than the lemons … you look and taste different. You want to go back to your “orange” friends that are like you. That is comfortable.

So what may have happened in our past that makes showing up in the “arena” harder as we get older? In our past, what happened when we felt different from others? Whether we excluded others or we felt excluded, so many people have felt exclusion for being who they are.

For me, I love music. I played piano at seven years old and started playing flute at ten years old. A small number of people made fun of me for being in “band”. It didn’t happen actually that much. I had a lot of fantastic friends who loved that I played flute and came to my senior recital in high school. But, the handful of times when I was made fun of … that stuck with me. Yet, I kept playing flute. I kept playing through college and I actually majored in flute performance. I now realize that by playing flute I was building my self-worth doing something that truly fed my soul from the inside out.

We know that building confidence from within is not about the outcome or the result. So this means … internal confidence can’t be about that promotion, new project, or new job.

What if building confidence from within is about how we show up at work? And how we show up is actually empowering our true selves (and our souls) to punch in every morning.

We have the will power to own how we show up. Despite the critiques, our own inner critic, and our fears and past memories, how can we restart every morning to show up a little more?


ACTION #2: How do you SHOW UP?

Recognize how you are showing up in your work.

How are you showing up at work? As the real you, a version of you, or hiding parts of the real you?

Do you show up all in? Does it depend on the environment or people?

Do you have some past pain that holds you back from stepping up as the real you at work? Is that inner critic, perfection mindset, and/or fear of being wrong or criticized holding you back?

Where can you stand out, feel different, AND serve others?

Be your own advocate to show up more fully in your work and life.

Be aware of how you show up in your work, and where you can bring more of YOU to your work.

Build your inner confidence with what makes YOU, the inside of YOU, different and unique.


How do you THINK at work?

I used to think I didn’t have enough time. Yet, how I spend time is up to me. Did I own my thoughts about time? Yes, we all own our thoughts. And it was up to me to change how I view time, value time, and experience time – so that I think differently on time as a gift. How can we shift from “there isn’t enough time” to “there is plenty of time”?

Part of the challenge with our thoughts is trying to quiet the ego mind. The ego mind, if you let it, will take control of your thoughts. If you find yourself feeling anxious for the future or feeling regretful of your past, that is your ego mind. Those thoughts impact our confidence. Those thoughts impact our ability to bring our best self to our work.

I have found that when I am only focused on the result, goal, or outcome … that takes me away from really focusing on what I can offer in the present moment. I miss out on the beauty of the moment while I worry about something in the future.

The question is how to create a discipline or practice so we can minimize negative thoughts and stories, and maximize positive thoughts.

I have found personally that daily meditation, just even 10 minutes every morning, helps me think more positive thoughts during my day. You can download any app on your phone to listen to guided meditations and music to build a morning practice. My favorite meditation resources are from Deepak and Oprah here:

I also learned a great technique from my mom who admitted that she found herself thinking negative thoughts. She hadn’t realized how much this voice in her head would say negative messages all day long. She shared a technique that we now call “FLIP IT.” It’s a game with your thoughts. When you suddenly you think or say a negative thought, you become aware it and “FLIP IT” to make it positive. Just like that, you can create will power, shift your energy, and take ownership of your thoughts. And, you get to restart this game over every morning.

Thoughts are inside of our mind. Thoughts manifest our energy. Thoughts are powerful.

If we think back to Wayne Dyer’s quote, we are what we are from the inside out. If we think like an orange, then we can build our confidence from within, with love and joy, and make THAT our external reality.

How can we ignite our thoughts from an inner confidence to then better serve others in our work and life?

Building confidence from within starts with our thoughts. Building confidence from within starts with how we think about ourselves, how we think during our day, how we show up, and how we feel in our work.


ACTION #3: How do you THINK?

Recognize your thoughts in your work and life.

At the end of the day, look back at your thought patterns. What percent of your thoughts were positive? When did you “FLIP” a negative thought to a positive thought? What environments triggered negative thoughts?

Be your own advocate to show up more fully in your work and life.

Be aware of how you show up in your work and where you can bring more positive thinking into your work and life.

Build your inner confidence by starting with your thoughts.


“Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”

Lao Tzu


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Kara Smith is a talent development / HR leader and is the founder of the Soul of Work project:, a think tank and not for profit learning lab.  The mission & intention of the Soul of Work project is to bring best practices, tools, and practical insights from thought leaders to help professionals get hired, build more sustainable economic fulfillment in both work & life, and do their best work.  As part of this mission, the Soul of Work project is dedicated to actively fundraise and donate to aligned non-profit organizations.  Learn more here:  Kara is a working mother who believes we do our BEST work when we align work with our life.