self + confidence

One of my amazing clients asked me for a “confidence cheat sheet” the other day. How brilliant is that?

We’ve all heard the old chestnut: “fake it till you make it.” But faking it only goes so far. Besides: who wants to build confidence from a bogus foundation?

A far more powerful way to build confidence is to speak the truth about what makes you so remarkable in the first place. Truth will not only reinforce your self-image, it will also emphasize how you’re already kind of killing it…and only getting better.

I’ve been studying Nonviolent Communication recently, and in a blinding light bulb moment not long ago, I realized that nonviolent communication start with the person in the mirror. Oh, snap!

Here are 8 things you can do this hot minute to build a habit of calling out your total awesomeness:

1.   Celebrate small wins daily. At night before falling asleep, make a ritual of honoring how you showed up in the world. Count your wins. It takes curiosity and hutzpah and about a thousand kinds of courage to simply show up in the world. Sometimes just lifting your head off the pillow is a win. If you wake up in the middle of the night and your minds starts to spin, repeat the process of counting your victories until you drift off again.

2.   Write all the achievements you’ve racked up in your career on small slips of paper. Keep those slips in a handsome container on your desk and pull one out when you’re feeling less than 1000% and you need some self-recognition. Brave and lion-hearted? You bet.

3.   Help others celebrate *their achievements. All acts of kindness are, in a way, self-serving because they always provide bonus points to the giver. Don’t’ believe me? Try doing something nice for someone else and see if it doesn’t give you a glow.

4.   Keep an inventory of steps taken toward a goal. If you’re like some of the high achievers I work with, you often skip over giving credit to your own rock star work ethic, then go on to beat yourself up for not doing more, faster. The truth of the matter is: you don’t get to the top of Mount Everest without strapping on your boots. So go ahead, track your progress and celebrate it. 

5.   Write down what your inner critic tells you about yourself and then read back those words in a funny cartoon voice to really emphasize how ridiculous the critic sounds. We almost never question the nonstop voice in our head, but maybe we should. I personally make it a policy to never accept disapproval from a cartoon character.

6.   Do something that scares you. You win extra brownie points for doing something that makes your knees quiver a little. It doesn’t matter the outcome. If you petition your boss for a raise and she shuts you down, honor the fact that you reached beyond discomfort and asked for what you wanted. (And then talk to your coach about why you work for someone who can’t appreciate your value.)

7.   Practice gratitude. Appreciation starts with self and when you can see and grasp your own worth, confidence takes hold.

8.   When your sense of self-worth feels wobbly, finish this sentence: “I am awesome because….”

Sound silly and self-serving? Not a bit. This is authentic work, and there’s nothing fake about it.

Want to explore confidence and self-care with a free Discovery Session? Email me at

burn + out

Having spent the better part of two decades as a nonprofit leader, I’ve seen my fair share of nonprofit executive burnout. But wait! What’s that you say, burnout in the compassion profession? You bet.

Many nonprofit leaders, myself included, went into the “passion and people over profit” profession because we are compassionate, heart-driven do-gooders. We fight the good fight, we elevate our communities with a commitment to creating a world-changing partnership between the private and public sectors. And sometimes this devotion comes at a high price.

No leader works harder for fewer (material) rewards than nonprofit leaders. Over time however, passion can lead to physical or emotional exhaustion, a sense of ineffectiveness against the relentless tide of need, and perhaps even cynicism because there’s never enough time, money, or real and lasting change.

It’s not all bad news, though. Yes, nonprofit leadership can be rewarding in ways that defy logic. And at the end of the day, you can sleep well knowing that you did your best to improve the human, eco, or existential condition. 

If you feel burnout creeping in, or observe it in staff or colleagues, here are five ways to elevate habits of self-care:

  1. Move your body. This is so important. Not only does exercise –even a lunchtime walk—give you a good cardio workout and blow out the cobwebs, best yet: it gets you out of your head and into your body.
  2. Talk about it. Having a coach or a trusted friend you can share your thoughts with helps beat pessimism and isolation. A coach can offer impartial feedback and challenge habits that may otherwise reinforce a pattern of gloom.
  3. Eat well. It’s easy to binge on sugary, fat-laden, or low-nutrition foods when we feel blue. But that’s like pouring can of soda into the tank of a Ferrari. Your brain works better on healthy food, so fuel yourself with the best ingredients possible.
  4. Get rest. Lack of adequate sleep can rob you of resilience, emotional agility, and the intellectual capacity to solve problems effectively. Eight hours is the minimum mattress time we should clock each night to assure top performance.
  5. Practice saying NO. This is my personal favorite. Do-gooders have a tough time saying NO. But nothing gets you what you really want faster than creating and protecting healthy boundaries. A 10-hour day? No, thank you. Work this weekend? Sorry, I wish I could, but I made plans. Give a top donor your home number so they can reach you night or day? Ooh, we have a policy in our house to make family time a priority. I hope you understand how important family time is. Fact: your donor won’t abandon you, she will respect you.

Maintaining a healthy mind and body is essential to doing our best work. And when our work means taking care of the public and social needs of our community, there is no higher calling. And BTW: the noble cause you loyally serve totally deserves your A-game.

Cynthia Gregory is a certified life coach and author. To book a free discovery session with her to see if coaching can ignite your nonprofit passion again, write to or visit