Are YOU Advocating for Yourself?

Strategies for building confidence

“You cannot dream up confidence.  You cannot fabricate it.  You cannot wish it.  You have to accomplish it.  I think that genuine confidence is what you really seek.  That only comes from demonstrated ability.” – Bill Parcells, Professional Football Coach

In our competitive world, there’s no substitute for confidence.

However, most of us don’t feel particularly comfortable talking about our accomplishments—probably because we heard so many times as children that “bragging is bad.” Some of us don’t even feel comfortable thinking about our successes—as if desiring to bask in that happy glow could somehow make us selfish, or prevent us from moving to the next level.

I’m not saying that you have to go around telling everyone how awesome you are all day long. Don’t think of it as BRAGGING. Think of it as ADVOCATING. Most of us could benefit from doing a little advocating for ourselves.  No one is going to do it for you.  So how do you tactfully and professionally advocate for yourself?

The best place to start is in your head.  Work on your mindset.  Do you notice the monkey mind/chatter wheel starts up and keeps going round and round in your head?  Here are a few examples of things I’ve heard over the years from clients:

“It’s not good enough” Oh, how I’ve personally lived with the “It’s Not Good Enough” monkey for years!  What an exhausting battle!  Here are some other popular “HEAD TRASH” saying that get in our way of advocating for ourselves.

“It’s a bad idea”


“I’m suppose to be…”

“I don’t know what to say?”

Well, first you have to notice and observe the words.  Are they positive or negative?  How might you change the words that keeps playing in your head when it comes to or before sharing your accomplishments?

Start with your own positive self talk.  In fact, positive self-talk is one of the most powerful tools employed by top earners!

When you focus on what you don’t have or haven’t accomplished, you lose power and momentum. There’s always going to be something bigger and better ahead of you—but if that’s all you see, things can start to feel hopeless pretty quickly. In order to approach your tasks or your boss with strength and confidence, you need to have a positive foundation—and that means building up your confidence by minimizing and managing the internal chatter.

If you have a hard time seeing your accomplishments clearly, start tracking them on a monthly or quarterly basis. Look at how you can start building on your prior successes. I call this “positive reflection.” Whether you’re working for someone, running your own business, or currently in a job search, this tool will highlight knowledge about your strengths and help you approach your career from a more strategic place and advocating for yourself will become easier.

Action Step: Positive Reflection

List the items you worked on in the last month/quarter.  Include all of the goals you’ve accomplished, skills you’ve developed, and projects you’ve completed.  Then, chunk each item down with the following questions:

  • Why is this an accomplishment?
  • What were the results?
  • What new skills, techniques, or strategies did I learn from it?
  • What skills, techniques, or strategies can I develop further?
  • What is my next course of action?

Using this exercise on a regular basis will help you gain a solid perspective about where you are, versus where you want to be (or worse, don’t want to be). As you address each item, imagine you are sharing your accomplishments and advocating your value for a minute or two.  Think about the great work you’ve done no matter how big or small.  Remember to notice if the same tape playing in your head and stop yourself, change the words and start acknowledging yourself for a job well done.  For an even greater sense of empowerment, share your accomplishments with your spouse, friend, or coach!

Want more help with strategies for building confidence and advocating for yourself?

Are you looking to advocate your way into a promotion and/or raise?

Text me on 617-755-8611 or email to further discuss.

As a certified professional coach, radio show host and workshop leader, Dawn helps sales, marketing, advertising and creative entrepreneurs to accelerate their career so they’ll love their life!


  1. Mike Sweeney says:

    Hi Dawn,

    I love this title! I tell my clients that their project capsules and case studies are often “no brag, just fact”. I encourage them to replace the obsessive and granular detail they are used to with the bigger whys and wherefores that ultimately determine if their work was successful or not. They find a lot they can brag about, and this makes them look even better to their customers!

    BTW, excellend action step exerecise. Coming at the end of Q1, it’s very timely!


  2. Catherine E. White says:

    Hi Dawn,
    Thanks for an excellent article. Very thought provoking.
    It made me wonder if social media changed how we brag? and how acceptable bragging is? It seems that Facebook, Twitter, etc, are all about “sharing” accomplishments, but usually on a very superficial level. Here is a photo of “Me on an alp!” Post a photo or it didn’t happen.
    In some ways, your exercise seems to promote going beyond that to discover a nugget of significance. But doesn’t that naturally lead back again to a kind of humility? These days, is it acceptable, or even possible to simply hold a significant event or accomplishment to yourself?
    That said… Your exercise for looking strategically at your accomplishments is definitely going to be empowering, perhaps more so if only used for reminding oneself that you have done significant things. I like the “no brag, just fact” too.

    • Dawn Quesnel says:

      I agree, Catherine. Social media does change how we brag and yes, my intention in this article is to provoke readers to look at discovering the many nuggets of significance. Very well put, thank you. Social media makes it easier to simply hold a significant event or accomplishment of yourself and to answer your question it’s finding a balance between celebrating success while learning the lessons from failure. Like Bill Gates says, ‘It’s fine to celebrate success, but it’s more important to heed the lessons of failure.’

  3. Dawn, thanks for a very important article. The first and most important step is believing in ourselves and for some that is very hard to do. What’s amazing is all the potential that is awakened once we do start believing in ourselves. I’d like to think you have opened the door for lots of folks. Thanks.

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