Karin’s Leadership Articles

“Oh the minute they made the announcement, I knew she’d be down on the field,” my husband told my parents over wine and brie. My parents both just smiled. As wacky as it sounded, they weren’t shocked either. In hindsight it was an audacious move, but I’d always wanted to sing the National Anthem over the microphone in a big stadium.

So when the master of ceremonies at my son Sebastian’s jujitsu tournament announced that their singer had bailed and they were looking for a volunteer, I raced down from the stands climbed up on the podium and grabbed the mic.

I sang. It wasn’t perfect, but I’ll never forget the sound of my high G reverberating through the stands, or the look of astonishment on Sebastian’s face.

“You’ve always been like that,” my mom shared. “I’m not sure where all that confidence comes from.”

As I’ve been helping others build their confidence, I keep coming back to that question. Just where does confidence come from? How do we best help feel more confident to give their dreams a go?

I’ve gone back and dissected a number of my other more ballsy moves. Here’s what they have in common.

A Simple Process To Increase Your Confidence

Have a Clear Vision of What You Want

Now, of course, I hadn’t been walking into every stadium hoping for my big break. But, singing the National Anthem was clearly on my bucket list. And each time the Orioles would broadcast a call for audition tapes, I’d always start practicing when I was in the car alone, knowing that someday, I’d send one in.

If you know what you really want, your heart will be ready to go before your rational mind starts chattering about why you should stop.

Guarantee Yourself it Won’t Be Perfect

I’m always humbled when I go back and read some of my earliest blog posts. I would never publish them today, and in fact have even considered taking them down. But I realize that doing so would be a huge disservice to anyone else working to build a platform. You become a better writer by writing, better leader by leading, better singer by singing, better lover by loving. There’s not much that doesn’t get exponentially better with practice. Starting messy is vital. If you wait until you’re perfect, you’ll get passed by the courageous fools out there practicing in the real world.

Change “Which Means” to “And So”

It’s easy to lose confidence when we’re a rookie. Change, “I came in last in the race WHICH MEANS I’m not very athletic,” to “I came in last in the race AND SO I’d better start running a bit more hills to increase my endurance.”


“I didn’t get the job WHICH MEANS I’m never going to make it in this field” to “I didn’t get the job AND SO I’d better double the number of applications I do each week.”

Confidence begets confidence. We become better human beings by being human. We get better at doing by doing.

Know what you want, give it a try, and ask yourself “and so” after each setback.

In Other LGL News

audvisor karin hurtSpeaking of overly confident first steps that worked out just fine: I laugh now at the audacity I had to send Seth Godin (whom I’d never met) my first blog post (as you heard above, it was terrible). He was gracious enough to write back with encouragement. As I’ve kept working on my craft, I’ve had some nice opportunities to interact with him (same wonderful encouragement). Now we’re both involved in this exciting new launch. Pandora for leadership thinkers. I’d love for you to check it out and see what you think.

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders resolve workplace ambiguity and chaos, so that they can drive innovation, productivity and revenue without burning out employees. She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and a hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.


  1. James McKey

    I love hearing about the rough journey to excellence of people I admire. Thank you.

    I downloaded the Audvisor app and am loving it so far (embarrassed to say I didn’t know Tom Peters before but do now!). I’ll leave a review in the App Store later today and tweet you when it’s done. What was your involvement?

    • Karin Hurt

      Thanks so much James. I’m one of the experts, so you should be able to hear my “insights.” I’ve recorded a bunch, but they’re only releasing a few at a time.

  2. Sharon Gilmour-Glover

    As always, I love your work Karin. And I’m with James; I love hearing about the rough journey to excellence of people I admire.

    One of the ways that build confidence is by keeping success journals. Confidence didn’t come very naturally or easy for me. It’s been a journey. Maintaining success and gratitude journals keep me focused on what’s important, regardless of the messiness of the journey. I take them out and read them when I need to move through an internal barrier.

    • Karin Hurt

      Sharon, That’s a GREAT idea. Thanks for offering a very practial tool for our LGL tribe.

  3. Paul Robbins

    Wow, Karin! I admire your confidence. Actually, singing is a powerful event, and even though I don’t sing particularly well, I sometimes sing a capella during empowerment workshops to encourage others to do the same. Singing together is an important element of community building; we are reclaiming our voices from a so-called culture that tells us we can’t make our own music so as to sell us music made by others. Keep on singin’! 🙂

    • Karin Hurt

      Paul, I’ve been known to sing at work too 😉 I love that you incorporate song into your workshops. EXCELLENT!

  4. Stephenie Elizabeth Baca

    Thanks Karen for the posting on Building Confidence. Very insightful and I admire your courage to step-up on a whim. I find confidence from listening to others and their stories of struggles. That is when I shift into gear and advise them to believe and invest in their dreams, goals and aspirations to overcome barriers that are in front of them. This works for me and helps me to realize that the only true barrier that is in front of me is me. Keep posting, I love reading and being inspired by what you write.

    • Karin Hurt

      Thanks so much! It’s been great to hear from some new folks today. I’m with you. Sharing stories is a great way to build confidence. Namaste.

  5. LaRae Quy

    I just loved this article, Karin! I can totally see you racing down to grab the mike and sing the National Anthem! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    I know EXACTLY what you mean about those earlier posts! There are many that will either never be shared again or taken down altogether…As you say, confidence is something that comes with the experience of overcoming our challenges in life.

    No challenges, no confidence building opportunities 🙂

    • Karin Hurt

      Thanks, LaRae, for being such a kindred spirit. Namaste.

  6. cindy navarino

    Building confidence comes from doing over and over again. It lends itself to be just like your training for that first half marathon .. practice until your pace is acceptable and then push again. No settling ..

  7. Terri Klass

    Fantastic post, Karin! Kudos to your ever-evolving journey forward and I too can just visualize you running up to that mic and belting it out!

    I am so intrigued with confidence because it truly is not something that a leader can give to someone else. Having said that, I know from past bosses and clients too who asked me to take on a new project, I gained confidence by stretching myself and forcing myself to tackle challenges that I thought were not possible. I think when we successfully accomplish things that we feared we would fail at, we begin to build our confidence.

    Thanks Karin!

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