Self confidence is the bedrock upon which many other core life skills are built - influencing how well we express ourselves (communication), how we relate to others (empathy), and how accountable we are for our actions (responsibility). Whether you’re 14 or 42, the degree to which you feel confident can dramatically influence your relationships, the extent to which you take on new challenges, overcome obstacles, and achieve your goals. Lack of self confidence and related feelings of inadequacy and self doubt are linked to many urgent social problems, including substance abuse, depression, violence, and criminal behaviour. Building true confidence and a deep sense of self worth is a process that can last a lifetime. Even some of the most outwardly successful people may lack confidence, driven to achieve by low self esteem. How important is confidence to succeeding in today’s jobs? “Extremely important,” according to Billy Selekane, a Make a Connection instructor working with unemployed college graduates in South Africa.

Billy grew up in a township outside of Johannesburg and knows as well as anyone the challenges facing today’s black South African youth. Now a successful entrepreneur, Billy credits his success to hard work, determination, a positive attitude, and the right mentors - all of which contributed to building his confidence and self-esteem. In paving the way for other South African youth to reach for their dreams, Billy now shares his insights and formula for success with Make a Connection participants. His focus is on personal transformation: helping young people change their attitudes about themselves and their possibilities. In working with Make a Connection participants, Billy emphasizes the importance of dreaming big, and overcoming negative attitudes. “The greatest gift we can give the world is the way we live our lives,” he says, “taking complete charge of our lives and being responsible for the results we achieve.” So far, that strategy is paying off. To date, more than 65 per cent of Make a Connection graduates in South Africa have secured either jobs or internships.

Confidence is not only essential to getting a job, but excelling in today’s workplace. With the growing decentralisation of management structures, greater emphasis is being placed on teamwork and interpersonal skills, both of which require that one interact confidently with others. One of the most positive facets of confidence building is that it can be reciprocal. Through supporting the self esteem of others, we strengthen our own. — Agencies