Self-Confidence: The Remarkable Truth of How a Small Change Can Boost Your Resilience and Increase Your Success, 10th Anniversary Edition by Paul McGee

Here's what others have to say about Self-Confidence:


“Compelling. Candid. Controversial. You have to read it!”

Steve McDermott, Former European Business
Speaker of the Year and bestselling author

“You will love this book. Paul McGee is an incredibly intuitive and inspiring presenter and writer. This book will go a long way in helping you regain and rebuild your confidence so that you can reach your full potential for your life.”

Rosemary Conley CBE, Diet and Fitness Guru

“From improving your love life, to boosting your job prospects, confidence can unlock the doors to a brighter future. This brilliant book, packed with honesty, humour and hope, provides the keys.”

Laine Ferguson, Retail Director, The Body Shop

“Packed with practical ideas and insights to build your confidence from the boardroom to the bedroom – and most things in between. You'll wish you'd read this book years ago.”

Philip Hesketh, Award-winning International Speaker and bestselling author


The Remarkable Truth of How a Small Change Can Boost Your Resilience and Increase Your Success

10th Anniversary Edition

Paul McGee

Illustrations by Fiona Griffiths

Wiley Logo

To my best mate H.

Thanks for your love, the laughter, and the long walks.


Cast your mind back a few years to 2009. What were you up to? How old were you? Economically speaking, in 2009 the world was still reeling from the effects of the financial crisis of the previous year. Countries were going into recession and Barack Obama was beginning his first year in office as President of the United States. Meanwhile Donald Trump, a businessman and presenter of the reality TV show The Apprentice, joined Twitter, three years after its launch. In sport, Leicester City were having a good season in League One – the third tier of English football.

A lot has changed, hasn't it?

In the early part of 2009 I was finishing the first edition of this book before its publication later that year. However, writing is not my main job. Speaking at events and conferences in both the UK and abroad occupies the majority of my time. A number of other speakers operate in the same way, and it was during a recent conversation with one of them that I realized there's a common trait I share with a number of my fellow authors. It's almost embarrassing to admit, but here goes.

Writing a book can be incredibly time consuming. In my experience it's not just the writing, it's the researching and then editing, and then more editing, followed by even more editing, that clocks up the hours. I think it's fair to say I'm not the only author who feels a sense of relief, as well as excitement, when their book is finally finished.

Then, after all that blood, sweat and tears (although in my case no blood was shed, and the rather cool temperatures of Warrington helped keep my sweating under control), guess what happens?

You never read your book again. Ever.

What had at one stage felt like an intimate relationship in which your lives were inextricably entwined now feels like a distant relative you've lost contact with.

And that's how my relationship with this book would have remained, except for one thing. Over the years I continued to receive emails from people who had read the book and got in touch. I guess these emails were the equivalent of that distant relative sending you a card at Christmas, Easter, and on your birthday, as well as postcards from their frequent holidays. They just kept on coming. So, despite having written a further four books since Self-Confidence was first published, the book continued to be on my radar. The topic resonated with people, its relevance clearly as important now as it ever was. Perhaps even more so. And so I decided to do something I have never done before – I reread my book.

It was a rather unusual experience, downloading it on my Kindle, cuddled up with a beer on a couch in the Sidcup Premier Inn in South East London. It was fascinating to read ideas and insights I'd penned almost a decade ago. Some were still familiar to me, but some had slipped to the back of my mind. I even found myself chuckling at one or two of the things I'd written, which I know is the equivalent of a comedian laughing at their own jokes. Perhaps in hindsight it was the effects of the beer.

I also found the content to have value in my own life, and realized much of what I had written would still be of value to others. The world may have changed since 2009 but many of our challenges haven't. Feelings of uncertainty, anxiety, believing we're not good enough, depression, insecurity, stress-related illnesses and a need for medication to cope with life's problems have been rising in the last ten years, not decreasing. However, I'm not kidding myself – what you have before you is not a panacea to all your problems. But I genuinely believe that whether you're reading this book out of general interest or you have a specific need, we all could do with a hand in helping us navigate life's sometimes troubled waters. None of us are magically born with a set of skills and tools required to steer our lives smoothly to our chosen destination. Much of what we acquire to equip us for life is a set of hand-me-down habits and beliefs from others. Some of those habits and beliefs are helpful, but some of them are not. In fact, they're harmful.

In the last decade we have seen the social pressures on people, particularly young people, rise rapidly. One factor that is fuelling this is the rising influence of social media (Instagram wasn't launched until almost a year after this book was first published). Now, I love engaging with people through social media, but I'm also aware of the negative effect it can have on people. It's argued that our exposure to it has heightened the potential for us to feel inadequate and insecure. For instance, the constant bombardment of images of beautiful bodies can leave many of us feeling dissatisfied with our own – although in my experience beautiful bodies do not always equate to healthy bodies or healthy minds.

Of course, we can feel inspired by others; by their looks and their achievements. But so much of what we view on social media is superficial – yet it's impact can be significant. The danger is that we can fall into the trap of comparing our unedited lives with the edited lives of others.

And what does that do for our confidence? By continually comparing our lives to others we are choosing to follow a path that will often lead to feelings of unhappiness and inadequacy. So part of my message in this book is to remind you that your intrinsic worth as a person is not based on how you measure up to others and how many followers you have on social media. A great place to begin is to start appreciating who you are, rather than regretting who you aren't. As I wrote in my book How to Have a Great Life, “Every minute you spend wishing you had someone else's life is a minute spent wasting yours.”

When you do compare your life to those of others, let me let you into a secret – some people's grass may appear greener, but quite often it's been fertilized with bullshit. So the aim of this book is to help you develop your confidence so it will benefit you and others, but without the animal excrement. I much prefer honesty to hype.

As you read this book, I hope that one of the big truths you'll discover about yourself is that despite your struggles, your flaws and your failings, at your very core you need to recognize and accept that you're OK. Sadly, however, we live in a world that plays on us not feeling OK. A world that undermines our confidence and can magnify our insecurities by making us feel unhappy about who we are, what we do, and what we look like. Why? Because from a marketing perspective it's crucial to create in each of us a sense of dissatisfaction or desire that can only be satisfied by a particular product or experience. The underlying message being, “You're OK if…”

All of this can lead to us feeling that we're not good enough, and believing that our sole aim in life should be focusing on eradicating our imperfections and refusing to accept our flaws. In turn, this can ignite an endless desire for acceptance and approval and lead us on a constant quest to prove our worth both to ourselves and others.

But is a desire to better yourself wrong? Of course not. I appreciate that you're reading this book because you have a desire to improve. Great. But as you embark on a journey to explore the crucial subject of self-confidence, it's important you start from a position of self-acceptance rather than self-loathing. Self-loathing weakens your well-being and can sow the seeds of poor mental health. So instead, make sure you read this book with the attitude “I'm OK and…”

If you're like the hundreds of readers who've contacted me over this last decade then you will discover insights, inspiration and some practical strategies that will boost your self-confidence. Just remember you're doing so as a person who doesn't need to be fixed, but as someone who wants to enhance the quality of their life – and who recognizes that increased self-confidence can unlock your potential and help you fully embrace the amazing possibilities life has to offer.

In reading this book, remember there's no one-size-fits-all approach to developing your self-confidence. There's no universal path to success. We're all on our own unique journeys, our backgrounds and needs are different. So too will be our ages and cultural heritage. When writing a book, I'm often asked if I have a particular audience in mind. With this book the answer is “Yes, anyone who is breathing.” So please recognize the huge scope of people who, like you, are embarking on this journey. Certain parts will resonate with you more than others. I readily admit that some sections may bear no relevance to your life right now. That's fine. Either read it and pass on what you learn to others for whom it is relevant, or simply skip it. Look for your nuggets. Write them down. Some people have described what you're about to read as “life changing.” But it actually isn't. It's simply words on a page. It's only life changing when you do something about it.

A lot can change in ten years. I'm certainly greyer than when I wrote the first edition. My kids are certainly different (they were sixteen and fourteen when it was first published). However, much of my content remains consistent. I've not made any major U-turns on my views on the topic. But I have made some changes. The word “resilience” wasn't on a lot of people's radars in 2009. It is now. And although I wrote about the subject previously, I'm more explicit about it this time. I've also realized that although confidence is a key ingredient to our success, it's not the only ingredient. That's why I am concluding this tenth edition with a new chapter that explores what some of those other ingredients are.

In closing, I want to say thank you to you. There are so many resources you can access and purchase in order to invest in your own development, so thank you for choosing this book. I hope you're richly rewarded, and that what you learn proves not only of value to you, but also to others you know, too.

Paul McGee

P.S. As you know, I enjoy connecting with people via social media. The chances are we'll never meet, so feel free to connect via Facebook, Twitter (@thesumoguy) or Instagram (@thesumoguy). I would love to know your thoughts on the book. Thanks.

About the Author

Paul McGee is a conference speaker, seminar presenter, communication coach, and Sunday Times bestselling author.

His academic background is in behavioural and social psychology, and his early career was spent in Human Resources and People Development.

He is one of Europe's leading speakers on change, inspiring leadership, and communicating with confidence. His thought-provoking, humorous, and practical approach to life has seen him speak in 41 countries and he's sold a quarter of a million books worldwide. He also works on a consultancy and coaching basis with an English Premier League football team.

He developed the SUMO (Shut Up, Move On) brand in 2002 and more recently launched SUMO4Schools (, a programme designed to help young people realize their potential and develop skills for life.

He's fascinated by people, is an explorer of faith, and passionate about football. He supports two teams – Wigan Athletic and Bradford City. Why? It's a long story.

Good food and laughter with family and friends, coupled with walks in the countryside, keep him sane. Most of the time.

To find out more about his work visit


“It's all about confidence.”
Eric Cantona

Cast your mind back to when you were growing up.

Do you remember getting injections from the doctor or school nurse when you were a kid?

Well, imagine if one of those jabs was to make you immune to the negative impact of rejection, failure, and a lack of self-belief.

In other words, you were given an injection of confidence.

What would your life be like if you'd always felt confident?

What would it be like if you could get your confidence booster jab every five years?

What would you do? Where would you go? What would you attempt?

It's an interesting thought.


For a start, you'd certainly have no need for this book.

Life could be so much more simple and straightforward.

But it's not.

Life is complex.

And your confidence can be fragile.

It can take years to grow and develop and yet one single event can crush it.

So why is confidence so crucial to you and your success and fulfilment in life?

What or who determines your level of confidence?

What happens when your confidence has been crushed?

Can it be rebuilt?

And if so, how?

How can you call on your confidence when you want to be at your best?

That's what this book is about.

In many ways, it's about creating a few more Kevins.

Let me explain.

I was wrapping up a two-day workshop for a group of redundant coal miners on “How to get that job.” The event had gone well.

“So what's been the main benefit of the course?” I asked the 12 or so men gathered in the room. I was met with the usual replies that I'd heard countless times before.

“I feel a lot more positive about the future.”

“I know how to sell myself more.”

“I'll be better prepared for interviews.”

Then it came to Kevin's turn.

“If you'd been my teacher at school, Paul, I could have been an astronaut.”

I hadn't expected that answer.

Kevin went on. “Since I've been a kid my life has been mapped out for me. My Dad worked in a mine and it was just expected that I would follow.

I feel this course has given me a lot more belief in myself. I just wish I'd been on it 20 years ago. Who knows where I might be today if I had?”

I've never forgotten Kevin's words.

They're a reminder of how self-belief, or the lack of it, can influence the rest of our lives. I don't want a lack of confidence to cause me to look back on my life and reflect: “I wish I had.”

I want to be the kind of person who says: “I'm glad I did.”

I want to be a player, not a spectator.

What about you?

Getting More from Your Read

Let me explain my approach to writing this book. I've divided it into two sections.

Section One focuses on gaining more of an understanding about confidence. I explore why it's so fundamentally important to every aspect of our lives. I also expose some of the myths around confidence and uncover some of the half-baked ideas on the subject that actually do more harm than good. I end this first section by examining how our past affects who we are today and how we think and feel about ourselves.

Section Two focuses entirely on practical ways and ideas to help boost, build, and develop your confidence. Whether you're struggling with self-doubt, have been made redundant, are recovering from a broken relationship or about to go on a date, there are dozens of practical and ready-to-apply tips and ideas to help you move on to fulfil your potential.

Style: I've deliberately written this book so that it's easy on the eye. I find long paragraphs and large blocks of text daunting, so I hope I've made it easier for you to absorb and retain the information.

Pit Stops: You will also notice sections called Pit Stops. These are vital to your ability to get the most from this book.

After all, what's your goal here? To finish reading a book or to grow and develop your confidence?

If it's the latter – which I sincerely hope it is – then you will find the Pit Stops invaluable.

You see, I don't simply want you to read this book. I want you to engage with it. That means taking time out to reflect on and answer the Pit Stop questions.

You'll gain so much more from this book when you do. Promise.

Personal Stuff: In order to add colour and context to the ideas I explore, I've also included sections called “Personal Stuff”. These are examples of situations that I and others have experienced and that help reinforce and illustrate points in the book. Stories are a great way to engage in the learning process, and I hope that by providing a window into my world you will find things that you can relate to and identify with.

If the Personal Stuff doesn't tick your box that's fine. I believe they'll provide a richer experience for you, but they aren't essential to the text. You will still discover a load of tools to equip and enable yourself and others to grow in self-belief and overcome self-doubt if you decide simply to skip through the stories. But I hope you don't.

Finally, I'm aware that this book will probably find a home within the self-help genre. Some of those books are a little too sugar-coated for my taste, and perhaps for yours as well. Therefore, you'll find my approach very down-to-earth, practical and, above all, realistic.

And please be aware that I'm not here to be nice. I'm here to be helpful.

So be prepared to be challenged as well as equipped to deal with the roller-coaster experience of life. My aim is to provide you with the ideas and inspiration to do so while hopefully raising the occasional smile along the way.

Finally, I really do believe that Eric Cantona was on to something when he said: “It's all about confidence.” So wherever you are on your journey at the moment, I genuinely hope that this book provides you with the confidence to make a difference.


The Stuff You Need to Know