Developing Confidence through Personal Development

“One step forward, two steps back.”

My father used to say this to describe the cycle we go through when working to develop and grow personally. It sounds counterproductive. And what does that have to do with confidence? Stick with me; I will explain.

Essentially, “One step forward, two steps back” is how personal growth feels. We see and accept that an area within ourselves needs work: an unproductive behavior, for example. We start trying to work on that area. All of a sudden, we start seeing even more places where that counterproductive behavior appears.

Learning to develop and grow often feels like we take a step forward, making progress, only to recognize our failures to a greater extent. It makes us feel as though we are getting worse and moving backward!

The more aware we become, the more we can see all the areas in our life where we are failing. You might be thinking, “Wouldn’t that make me less confident?” This can certainly happen if we don’t maintain a proper perspective. But there is more to the story.

Here are the main points:

      1. The Personal Development process is this cycle:
        • Gain Awareness
        • See Failure
        • Learn and Grow
        • Repeat
      2. Persistence in the cycle of Personal Development produces character
      3. More excellent character leads to greater confidence


Personal Development is when we increase our self-awareness and allow our character to develop further. Think about it. If you gain awareness that you are a jerk in some areas and don’t do anything about it (e.g., build your character), you won’t grow as an individual.

When we are growing, keep in mind, there will be growing pains. And this is where the cycle I mentioned comes in. As our self-awareness increases and our character develops, we will become more aware of our failures.

To elaborate, let’s say you realize you are not a very good listener. The more you accept and become aware of this fact, the more you will see how you fail to listen in different situations. You then feel like you are a failure when it comes to listening and aren’t growing at all.

If we don’t maintain the proper perspective, our initial realization can lead to feelings of discouragement and lower confidence levels. But seeing our failures more and more means we are growing! The revelation of our failure is the development of character. And failure provides an opportunity to learn. What we are observing within ourselves are areas we have not yet applied to what we are learning.

Knowing the cycle helps us maintain the proper perspective and keeps us moving forward. Gain Awareness, See Failure, Learn and Grow, Repeat. Persistence in this cycle develops our character. Greater character strength leads to greater confidence in who we are.


As we start becoming more self-aware, we have to do something with it. We have to grow. To grow, we must allow our character to develop. One of the most, if not the most, essential traits of character is humility.

Humility is the foundation of character that creates confidence. Unfortunately, humility has a bad rep in many cultures. It is too often mistaken as weakness. That couldn’t be more wrong.

Humility can be hard to describe. Ask ten people what it is, and you will most likely get ten different answers. It is often best understood by explaining its opposite: Humility is being without conceit, arrogance, or pride.

Essentially, to gain humility, we must understand and accept our relevance in relation to the world (or universe if you want to really get an idea). You might be thinking, “Wouldn’t that lead me to believe I’m insignificant, allowing others to walk over me?” Not exactly.

When we understand our relevance, we realize the significance of each person is essentially the same. This leads us to value who we are as an individual while at the same time valuing everyone else equally. When we value ourselves, we become comfortable with who we are as individuals and care less what others think. This produces greater confidence.

Just because we are humble doesn’t mean we let others walk over us. It means we have the ability to handle situations in a way that shows we value ourselves and value others, even when we don’t like their behavior. It gives us the power to control our actions and behavior instead of allowing others to influence us and how we feel.