Strengthen Your Capabilities

In a recent post, Easy Pathways Toward Confidence, one of the points I mentioned was the importance of strengthening your capabilities.

Many of you wrote in and asked for some techniques to do just that.

The basic idea there was to amass some meaningful milestones, such as degrees, certifications, awards, skills, abilities, or some other achievements, as a way to help you gain more confidence for the future.

But I didn’t give any specifics about how to do this. So I’ll try now to fill in some details on that aspect of building confidence:

Set Yourself Some Tasks

My favorite way to build confidence is to set myself a series of tasks. Many times, I look for tasks that will lead me one step at a time toward a single goal. But that’s not strictly necessary.

What’s more important is that the tasks be useful (why waste your time?), possible (why beat your head against a stone wall?), and tangible enough – such as painting a fence or writing new blog post – to make obvious when I have completed each one.

Rate Each Task

Setting useful tasks for myself is always helpful. It will be for you, too. Since the object here is to build your confidence, however, it’s also important to know the relative difficulty of completing each one.

To do this, rate each of your tasks on the following parameters:

Level of Skill Required

Obviously, different tasks can require different skill levels. That’s why some tasks are easy for you, some a bit challenging, and some quite beyond your ability to accomplish.

To facilitate this confidence-building exercise, set yourself a variety of tasks so you’ll experience the full spectrum of skill requirements, from minimal to highly specialized.

Level of Knowledge Required

Same as with skill level, some tasks, like stuffing envelopes, require very little knowledge. Other tasks, like programming an app, require a great deal. Go for a variety that covers the spectrum on this factor, as well.


Again, it’s good to have a range of tasks, from simple to complex. Painting a fence, for example, is pretty simple and straightforward. Buying a home is much more complicated.

Margin for Error

Some tasks – like playing a song without error – require a high degree of precision. Others – like riding a bike along a country lane – demand much less. When lining up your confidence-building tasks, don’t get caught up in the perfectionism thing. Include some tasks with a relatively wide margin for error.

Downside If You Flub It

This is an important parameter. Why? Because the larger the cost of failure, the more pressure you’ll feel on the task.

That’s why cooking a hamburger – where the potential downside is nothing more than a burned piece of meat – carries much less pressure to perform than giving a speech before a large audience or sending a rocket into space.

Because handling pressure gracefully is a major bonus that depends at least partly on confidence, performing well in difficult situations is something you need to practice until you’re fairly comfortable doing it.

Degree of “Luck” Needed

Don’t overlook the “luck” factor when rating a task. Sure, a task like accurately throwing a dart or shooting an arrow requires skill. But luck counts, too. If you discount the importance of luck in successfully completing certain tasks, you take on too much credit or blame for a given level of performance.

Sequence the Tasks

With the tasks all rated on these parameters, arrange them in sequence, from those you can certainly do to those that present significant challenges. These ratings are not clear cut like size places, though, so don’t strive for perfection in this arrangement. Just get the overall trend going in the right direction.

Work on Each Task

Obviously, after all this effort, the next step is to complete the tasks, one by one. Start with the least challenging and build up to the more demanding ones.

Take Pride in Each Completed Task

If you’ve done all this correctly, completing each task will provide you with somewhat more satisfaction than the one before, and will contribute to increasing your feelings of competence and accomplishment.

The goal here is to move through a steady progression of gradually more testing tasks. By treading this path, one step at a time, you’re likely to strengthen your capabilities and chalk up win after win, accomplishment after accomplishment, success after success.

The net result will be to significantly boost your level of confidence.

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