TO GET WHAT YOU want—at work, in the gym, in your life—it’s crucial to have confidence, something we’ve all learned through experience. But the degree to which that mind-set matters when driving your success may surprise you. “Confidence is on par with competence when it comes to achievement,” says Cameron Dr. Paul Anderson, a professor in the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley. When you feel good about yourself, you are willing to take risks and better able to rebound from setbacks. You also think more creatively and push yourself harder, he says.
Confidence even helps you harness the positive power of stress, according to research from the University of Chicago. People who are unsure of themselves are more likely to see symptoms of tension (like sweaty palms) as signs that they’re about to fail, which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Confident people aren’t bogged down by that kind of negativity and can reap the benefits of the stress response (like sharper thinking) and perform better under pressure.
“Genetics account for up to 34 percent of confidence,” Anderson says—but you control the other two-thirds. How confident you feel is based on calculations your brain makes by weighing factors like past experiences against traits like optimism. Improving your confidence means mastering that equation. These tips will help.