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Confidence: Overcoming Low Self-Esteem, Insecurity, and Self-Doubt Hardcover – October 17, 2013

3.6 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Confidence nails it—if you want to achieve great things, you are better off being your own worst critic than your own biggest fan. Read this book and you will never look at the concept of self-esteem the same way again.”

—Laura Vanderkam, author of All The Money In The World and What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast
“Compelling and zippy.”
Financial Times
“I can't remember the last time I finished reading a book and wanted to applaud.  Confidence is a life-changing book—it will convince you, through brilliant arguments and an abundance of compelling evidence, that much of the advice you've been given on how to be successful is worse than useless.  In fact, it's been holding you back.  Before you read anything else, read Confidence.
—Heidi Grant Halvorson, PhD author of Focus and Succeed
“A provocative work, an excursion into the role of confidence at work, in relationships, and the impact on leading a healthy life. Dr. Chamorro-Premuzic repeatedly challenges our beliefs, which makes for a stimulating read.”
—The Globe and Mail
“Maybe you have always intuited, as most sensitive people do, that all the talk about boosting self-confidence and raising self-esteem is not the answer to success or happiness. This charming and thoroughly fact-based book will give you the evidence to back your wisdom, that being kind and competent works best.”
—Elaine Aron, PhD, author of The Highly Sensitive Person and The Undervalued Self 
“Interesting and transformative thinking that will not only have you accepting your inner critic and low self-confidence, but embracing it.... Chamorro-Premuzic writes in a kind, gentle, yet authoritative tone that will inspire the “insecure” reader and retire the over-confident ones....a new and enlightened perspective...This book is required reading for any professional.”
Small Business Trends 

“An expose of the dark side of confidence. I absolutely loved it, because it shatters so much incorrect but conventional wisdom with key scientific research.”
—Matthew E. May, Rise Networks
“Chamorro-Premuzic has rethought confidence – shattering myths about what generates confidence but also reassessing low confidence as a positive attribute. A fresh, more balanced, approach, presented in a well-researched, accessible, and, indeed, enjoyable format. I like this book: a lot.”
—Robert Kelsey, author of What’s Stopping You?
“Pleasingly counterintuitive.”
“Buy and read this book. Give it to a young person...I dare say I’m confident it could turn a life of miserable self-doubt into a life of empowerment.”
—Doug Michaelides, Vice President and Practice Leader, Sales and Marketing, for Stratford Managers Corporation
“Persuasively argues that we’ve taken our culture of self-assurance and self-promotion too far.”
Harvard Business Review

About the Author

TOMAS CHAMORRO-PREMUZIC, PhD, is a professor at University College London (UCL) and visiting professor at New York University. He is the author of six books (most recently, Personality 101) and also writes regular blogs for Harvard Business Review and Psychology Today. He lives in London and New York, and frequently appears in the media.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Avery; 1St Edition edition (October 17, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594631263
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594631269
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #876,861 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover
In this thoughtful and thought-provoking book, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic observes, "The main difference between people who lack confidence and those who don't is that the former are unable (or unwilling) to distort reality in their favor. That's right, the successful distortion of reality is the chief underlying reason so many people don't experience low confidence when they should. Whereas pessimism leads to realism, optimism promotes the fabrication of alternative realities -- lying, not to others, but to themselves."

In this context, I am reminded of Bud Tribble's comments about Steve Jobs, quoted by Walter Isaacson in his biography of the insanely great innovator: "Steve has a reality distortion field. In his presence, reality is malleable. He can convince anyone of practically anything. It wears off when he's not around, but it makes it hard to have realistic schedules." According to Apple co-founder, Steve Wozniak, "His reality distortion is when he has an illogical vision of the future, such as telling me that I could design the BREAKOUT game in just a few days. You realize that it can't be true, but he somehow makes it true." Debi Coleman recalls, "He reminded me of Rasputin. He laser-beamed in on you and didn't blink. It didn't matter if he was serving purple Kool-Aid. You drank it." Isaacson adds, "At the root of the reality distortion field was Jobs's belief that the rules didn't apply to him." In this and in countless other respects, Steve Jobs was indeed one-of-a-kind.

For most of us, Chamorro-Premuzic asserts -- and I agree -- that we should not aspire to have high confidence, but to have high competence. If we focus on achievement, it will increase self-confidence naturally diminishing low self-esteem, insecurity, and self-doubt.
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Format: Hardcover
I liked the book and I like and support the main point the author makes, and yet we know from children that the only way to raise them to a healthy form of confidence is to give them a feeling of competence. That this mechanism must equally apply to adults is quite straightforward. So far so good.

What I really found confusing though, is that the author seems to contradict his own theory in several points. But I'm inclined to attribute this to his writing skills which could definitely improve.
However, I was very puzzled to read that after lengthy explanations on how overconfident people are a turn-off to others especially when they can not back-up their confidence by competence, I should fake confidence in order to apear more competent than I really am. How does this fit together? Then yet, I shouldn't overdo it, so 7.4 fake confidence is ok, but 8.9 is not, or is faked confidence that is not backed-up by competence better than true confidence that is not backed-up by confidence and can confidence not backed-up by competence be true confidence at all? I'm sorry, but I think the author needs to get his definitions straight her, it's too confusing and that's a shame because his message is otherwise great.

Another point that left a nasty taste in my mouth are his ideas on the reason and meaning of depression, who ever has been so unfortunate to be clinically depressed or had someone close be severly depressed knows that this is a very serious and deathly illness and by no means something one should be happy about or embrace. I personally know several young people who commited suicide after long and severe periods of depression and I really doubt that this is an evolutionary advantage.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I agree with the author that competence is more valuable than confidence. I also like his advice on being others-focused and modest. However, the author provides an extremely flawed theory about why one should maintain low confidence to be more successful.

The author argues that having confidence have detrimental effects in all areas of life. He claims that confident people are all arrogant, have distorted views of reality, and overvalues oneself. As a result, they are delusional risk takers with low motivation to improve. In fact, the author compares confidence to the effects of being drunk. This is simply ridiculous!

Next, the author tells us to embrace having lower confidence because we experience more anxiety and will therefore protect ourselves from embarrassing or dangerous situations. To quote the book, "the less confident you are, the more pessimistic your prediction of your performance will be, so it should trigger even higher levels of preparation" (p131). Unfortunately, as the author points out "in a situation in which you forecast failure, you will experience anxiety and interpret is as a sign that you should try to elude the event" (p36). How will anyone with low confidence succeed if s/he never even tries?!

The author claims that "Reputation is King" because how people perceive you is often a better measure of success than your own self evaluation. This ends up being a self-fulfilling prophecy where the more people think you are competent, the more competent you become. Since "people are generally inept at assessing their own or others' social skills" (p135) and "high confidence is often mistaken for competence" (p101), then shouldn't we all hope to display lots of self-confidence?
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