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Confidence. Do performers need it?

Updated: Jul 7, 2023

5 things I wish I knew ... part 1

Confidence is not a prerequisite to success in the arts.

A little while back I reached out and spoke about the 5 things I wish I knew when I first entered the performing arts industry. Those were:

  1. Innate confidence in oneself is not an absolute ‘must-have' for success

  2. ‘Feeling’ confident is not a prerequisite to taking action towards your goals. In fact, it's the opposite. (…wait, what?)

  3. Fear is not a ‘sign’ that you should stop or retreat

  4. Setting goals based on specific ‘outcomes’ can actually really hinder our progress and negatively impact our confidence

  5. Experiencing performance anxiety does not mean that you are going to perform badly or that you are weak.

Well, I wanted to talk in a bit more detail about these, and today I'm starting with number 1.

Confidence… It's a tricky thing.

In my coaching I use an empirically based personality profiling tool called Hogan and in preparing for this piece, I looked back over the results from all of the coaching I have done with all my 1:1 clients over the past 5 years. And this is what I found:

90% of my clients demonstrated low levels of innate self confidence.

10% sat in the moderate range and…

0% of my clients demonstrated high levels of innate self confidence!

Let me give you some context. These people are high achievers. They have performed all over the world at places like Deutsche Oper Berlin, The BBC Symphony Orchestra and Opéra national de Paris, and been finalists in major international competitions like The Queen Elizabeth Competition and Operalia.

What can we learn from this?

Well, what this tells us is that having a naturally high level of innate confidence is absolutely NOT a requirement to be successful in this industry. In fact research has consistently shown that musicians and performing artists experience higher degrees of trait anxiety when compared to the general population. Yet still, they are able to achieve very high levels of success.


Having strategies in place to ensure that one's natural predisposition towards uncertainty in oneself and/or self sabotage doesn't get in the way of taking powerful actions towards one's goals. We all have fears, but just because we 'feel' something (like a lack of confidence) that doesn't mean we should stop doing what we want to do.

Helping people overcome this challenge is by far, the biggest part of the work that I do with my clients. Helping people achieve their goals in spite of how ‘confident’ they might feel.

In my work with my clients, I help them to identify what their goals are and what is holding them back from achieving those goals. Then, when combined with the information from their Hogan profile, we have all the information we need to know about how to best overcome those challenges for that individual. We know their strengths and also the areas to be aware of that might be inadvertently holding the individual back.

In short. If you are like the majority of my clients who don't feel innately confident in yourself… That's ok. In fact, it's completely normal. There are very tangible things you can do to make sure you are able to achieve your goals.

If you feel like you're stuck or that a lack of confidence is holding you back, reach out to me and I'd love to arrange a free discovery session.

Stay creative,

Cailin at The Performer's Edge :)

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