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Years ago while teaching I asked all students who struggle with confidence to raise their hands. Every student raised their hand, except one young man. He (we’ll call him Andre) was a star football player, an academic achiever, and attractive. To my shame I thought Andre was masking narcissism for confidence, so I asked him a question. “Andre, tell us what gives you confidence.” He looked me straight in the eyes and without hesitation he said, “Well, I’m a hard worker. I’m nice to people. And if I tell someone I’m going to do something, I do it.” I was taken back by his answer. It was one of the most mature answers I’d ever heard from a high school student. This was a good-looking sports star with great academic achievements. He had a pretty girlfriend and was being recruited for football by a few major universities. Surely, he felt confident from his many achievements and not from his character, right? Wrong. He did not put his trust in his appearance, achievements, or social status. Instead he stood on the principles of character.


Confidence comes from the Latin word confidere which means to have full trust in. When we have confidence in something we believe it is strong and will stand in the face of opposition. However, confidence can be fragile depending on what we have confidence in. For example, let’s say each day on your commute to work you drive over a particular bridge. Day after day and year after year you drive over the bridge without questioning its strength or integrity. You never consciously think to yourself, “Should I trust this bridge?” You have full confidence that the bridge will stand under the weight of your vehicle. Now, let’s say one day as you drive over the bridge it begins to shake and wobble. You make it to the other side and when you look back you see the bridges pillars shaking. What would you do the next time you drive to work? Would you chance going over the bridge or would you take a different route?

We must be confident that the bridges in our lives will hold up over time.

Confidence comes from the Latin word confidere which means to have full trust in

Confidence verses Self-Confidence

I struggle with the term self-confidence. Having self-confidence implies that a person has full trust in self. Numerous self-confidence teachings instruct people to rely on themselves for everything in order to be successful. However, I’ve coached many people who have bought into the idea of self-confidence and have been left wanting.

Why? Humans are fallible. We make mistakes. We break promises with ourselves. We intend to do one thing and do another. We can be like the unsteady bridge described earlier. Therefore, having self-confidence or self-trust is a bit of a misnomer. We must instead trust in what isn’t fallible, what doesn’t break promises, and what will always be steady. A proverb says, “He who trusts in himself is a fool; but those who walk in wisdom is kept safe.” We must have confidence in the unchanging principles of character. Each time we put confidence in character we increase our confidence because we are relying on something that will never let us down.

We must have confidence in the unchanging principles of character.


Character provides an unshakable foundation. A short list of character principles are: Ambition, Boldness, Consideration, Dependability, Encouragement, Friendliness, Generosity, Honesty, Imagination, Justice, Kindness, Loyalty, Meticulous, Optimistic, Passionate, Responsibility, Selfless, Teachable, Understanding, Vivacious, and Wisdom. Each of these character traits is firm, solid, and true. Could you imagine someone blaming honesty for their lack of success? What if someone came to you and said, “If it wasn’t for responsibility, I’d be much further along in my life.”

This seems outlandish, but many people do not trust character because of bad experiences. I recently had a student tell me character doesn’t work because the last time she showed kindness the other person treated her poorly. So, I asked if she believed nastiness would help her achieve her goals. She said no. I asked if rudeness would help her get a job. She said no. I asked if disrespect would help her make friends. She said no. The student had every right to feel hurt from being treated poorly. However, just because someone reacts negatively to character doesn’t mean character doesn’t work. One foundation of character is accepting that we control our actions and reactions and no one else’s. Character works if people work character. Unfortunately, not everyone works character and that is a fact we need to accept before moving forward. For those who do work character, however, they can expect unshakable confidence and a successful life.


Remind yourself daily of the character you hold dear to your heart. My family has three character values, honor, peace, and fun, and we remind each other of them often. We celebrate when we are living them and admonish each other when we’re not. They have helped us become more confident in our relationships, environment, and love. The next time you’re struggling with confidence. Go back to your values. They will never let you down.