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Dear Jess...I'm really struggling with my confidence.

Every Friday, Jess Ratcliffe drops by to help us overcome the obstacles and worries that are holding us back. Share your questions with Jess anonymously at

Dear Jess, I'm really struggling with my confidence. I don't speak up in meetings or put myself forward for opportunities. I know this is holding me back. How do I build my confidence so that I feel excited to speak up and put myself forward for projects?

This is a beautiful and courageous question - thank you for writing in.

Over the past 18 months, I've been working on building my confidence. In the process, I've stretched myself to do things, say things or be things that a past version of myself would've lost sleep over. And the impact has been incredible.

This work started - and continues - as an experiment. I wanted to test whether it's possible to build self-confidence, like we would a muscle.

So often, we see confidence as something binary - we have it or we don't; we feel it or we don't. That's simply not true.

Confidence - like any other muscle - can be built.

Each time we face our fear, we gain strength, courage and confidence in the doing – Theodore Roosevelt

Now, our fun challenge (that's right, fun!) is choosing how we're going to build our confidence muscle.

To start creating your confidence workout plan, consider the following questions:

  • Where do you currently feel like confidence is holding you back? (e.g. in large meetings, in my 1:1 with my manager, leading my team etc)

  • How does it feel like it's holding you back? What is it stopping you from doing, saying, being that you want to do, say or be? (e.g. it's stopping me from sharing ideas at work or saying what I want with my friends)

  • How is holding back limiting you, your impact and your growth? (e.g. people aren't hearing my ideas, I'm not being seen for opportunities or my friends bulldoze me)

  • Imagine a confident you, how do they show up in the situations we listed above? How do they hold themselves? And share their ideas or desires? (e.g. they share their ideas with passion and without hesitation)

  • Holding that confident you in your mind's eye, how could you channel them today or tomorrow? How could you practice being them for a moment, to try it on and see how it feels?

To take us back to your question: "How do I build my confidence so that I feel excited to speak up and put myself forward for projects?"

The answer is:

Like a muscle - step by step (or should I say, bicep curl by bicep curl).

Every time you channel your confident self and practice being them in a situation, you're building your muscle. It might feel uncomfortable - even painful - at first but I promise that will shift. The more you do it, the stronger you'll feel.

Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit at home and think about it. Go out and get busy." – Dale Carnegie

Before you know it, we'll be 18 months in to your experiment and you'll be doing, saying and being things that your present self wouldn't believe. How exciting is that?

If you're excited to start building your confidence muscle, I have an invitation for you...

Email me with your next step - tell me how you're going to channel your confident self today, tomorrow or this week?

I'm excited to hear from you.

As always, I'd love to hear what works for you and what doesn't. Let's keep the conversation going over at @jessratcliffe or @ladieswholaunch_.

What are you struggling with? I'd love to help.

Drop me a note at and remember, all Dear Jess' are anonymous.

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