• Sarah Tulej

10 Banging Books to Boost Your Confidence

As recommended by four whip-smart Netherlands women (and little ole me)...

From L to R: Mérida Miller, Yophi Ignacia, Nathalie Robberse (image credit: Nina Moerdijk), Michelle Chakkalackal

A while back (an embarrassingly long while back) I set out to interview a set of cool Netherlands women about the topic of CONFIDENCE. Why so?All of us struggle from time to time with our levels of confidence.


And, as a photographer, I regularly see my clients summoning all their strength to get in front of the camera. I also see how seeing images of themselves looking strong, calm and wise can give them a big confidence boost.


Now I’m finally pulling together my interviewees' wisdom, and kicking things off with a reading list.


Here are the top 10 book recommendations from my lovely bunch of interviewees, with a few of my personal favourites thrown in for good measure...


(Oh, and please do not buy these from Amazon. Support your local independent bookseller, or literally ANY OTHER company. My favourite independent online sellers are Hive (in the UK) and Donner (in the NL).

1. The Confidence Code for Girls: Taking Risks, Messing Up, and Becoming Your Amazingly Imperfect, Totally Powerful Self, Katty Kay and Claire Shipman


Kicking off the list is this gem recommended by Mérida Miller who runs Project Fearless, whose mission is "to enable more girls* to become scientists, engineers, builders, makers, creators or to get to the top of any ladder they wish to climb."


According to Mérida, this book talks about how confidence can be learned and something you can continuously grow, like a muscle.



Mérida also recommended these next two books:


2. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, Susan Cain

"As an extroverted-introvert it really helped me feel seen and understand that I cant and shouldn't always be “on.” It also may give lots of validity to those who are introverts and why they are just as important as the extroverts, even if society says otherwise."



3. Enough as She Is: How to Help Girls Move Beyond Impossible Standards of Success to Live Healthy, Happy, and Fulfilling Lives, Rachel Simmons

"For anyone working with young girls, but really anyone who needs to hear “you are great just as you are”, Mérida said.


Next up we have a recommendation from Yophi Ignacia - sustainable fashion consultant, designer and founder of consultancy The Future Mode.



4. The Miracle Morning, Hal Elrod and Rob Ectis

The book's premise is about using the best part of our day (i.e. when we wake up) is to allocate time for personal development, setting up your mind, and body to greet the day. That is, if you can stand to get up well before 8am…


Spoiler alert, the main idea is to spend 10 minutes each on these things: silent meditation, affirmations, visualization of the day ahead, exercise, reading, particularly to learn something, journalling.


I also spoke to Nathalie Robberse, founder of TEN Women - a creative community and career development platform with a mission to connect, uplift and inspire women. Here's one of her top recommendations:


5. Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office: Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers, Lois P. Frankel

Internationally recognized executive coach Lois P. Frankel reveals a distinctive set of behaviors - over 130 in all - that women learn in girlhood that ultimately sabotage them as adults. She teaches how to eliminate the unconscious mistakes that could be holding you back.




Now onto Michelle Chakkalackal, business consultant and strategist, leading organisations through change:


"I haven't been a person that can think or listen my way to confidence! So I don't have any books or podcasts to recommend for people to grow their confidence.


"What I do have are books or podcasts that have moved me beyond my fear of things I love to do or have inspired me to get curious and be playful are..."


6. Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success, Adam Grant

Are you a taker, a matcher or a giver? Adam Grant looks at how we interact with others determines our success, and highlights what effective networking, collaboration, influence, negotiation, and leadership skills have in common.


7. The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion, Elle Luna

Most of us have had a career crisis or two, and this book is aimed at people exploring what on earth to do with their lives. If you're feeling a niggling sense of disatisfaction, this book will give you some food for thought.



8. Courage: The Joy of Living Dangerously, Osho

Rather than focusing on grand acts of courage, this book looks at everyday ways we are presented with the chance to be courageous, and how this can lead to a more fulfilling life. Rather than something to be feared, uncertainty and changet can be a cause for celebration and growth.


And, because I LOVE a self-development book and I couldn’t resist, a couple more from me:



9. How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back, Sally Helgesen, Marshall Goldsmith

This book gave me a lot to think about. I even bought a copy for my sister! There was originally a general book aimed at men and women but then this edition was created, in recognition of the different ways women tend to behave in organisations. Some of the habits that I recognised in myself were - overvaluing expertise, ruminating, and letting your radar distract you. Get this book!


10. Playing Big, Tara Mohr

This one I’ve leafed through many a time. All about how brilliant women tend to 'play small' in their lives and careers, and wanted to but didn't know how to 'play bigger.' Ideas like 'unhooking from praise and criticism' and 'leaving good student habits behind' have helped me grow confidence in my ability to improvise and figure things out along the way. Very liberating indeed!


So, there you have it. Ten books to delve into for inspiration if you need a confidence pick-me-up.


Have you read any of them? What did you think?


And what's missing from this list? I LOVE book recommendations...


(psssst! I also have a newsletter with good stuff like this. And if you subscribe you get €250 towards your first personal branding experience with me. Just click here.)


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