Building self-confidence is like building a house: you need a solid plan, the perseverance to see it through, and the right tools for the job.
Below you’ll find a variety of tools that have helped me overcome insecurity by honing my mind, body, people skills and style.
“Knowing yourself is the beginning
of all wisdom.” – Aristotle
As contemplative men in search of self-confidence, we have plenty of advantages – chief among them our ability to sit quietly and absorb knowledge, which many other people either overlook or ignore entirely.
Below are my top recommendations for any guy interested in better understanding human nature (both his own, and others’), interacting with people with more ease and grace, and replacing the insecurity of ignorance with the power of knowledge.
The tagline on the cover really says it all here: “the definitive work on self-esteem by the leading pioneer in the field.”
Anyone looking to build self-confidence and better understand themselves needs to read this book.
If the Six Pillars is the definitive work on self-esteem, this is without a doubt the definitive work on introversion. An absolute must-read.
In the 70 or so years since this book was released, no better advice about dealing with people has been written. It’s a master-class in how to interact with others.
A roadmap for living a life of strength of substance. It focuses on character rather than personality, helping you become the sort of person you want to be.
A great supplement to How to Win Friends, this book offers specific tactics that help you get over a hump that often plagues us quiet(er) guys: how to start a conversation.
This isn’t a book you read, it’s a book you use. Getting into the habit of focusing on what you’re grateful for – and writing it down – is one of the most empowering exercises you’ll ever embark on.
Not a book, but an excellent choice if you buy a lot of books (or anything else) on Amazon.
Tip: An Easy Way to Get Free Shipping
If you don’t want to pay the $10.99 per month for Prime, just sign up for the free one-month trial. Order a bunch of stuff, get the free shipping, then cancel your membership before the month is up. This works especially well around the holidays, when you’ll probably be ordering a lot and shipping can really add up.
Getting into the habit of working out regularly is a lot more important – and confidence-boosting – than loading up on a bunch of fitness gear you may never use.
With that said, there are a few key pieces that will help you build a better body faster and more effectively. Below are the ones I most recommend to anyone who’s just getting started with fitness.
If you’ve lifted weights, you know that it’s nearly impossible to do without getting callouses on your hands – unless they’re protected.
A good pair of weightlifting gloves will help you get a grip on the barbell, dumbbell, pull up bar or anything else you’re lifting.
Forget staying thirsty: stay hydrated, my friends. Working up a sweat requires replenishing your H2O.
To hydrate without the usual pitfalls of plastic bottles try this 32-oz, BPA-free water bottle with a removable lid – great for protecting from germs, and allowing you to chug back as much as he needs.
Long headphone cords tend to get caught on things – and the gym is full of weight machines, dumbbell racks and other perils ripe for ripping the headphones right out of your ear.
Do yourself a favor: cut the cord and go with a pair of Bluetooth headphones.
You need a strong foundation to build a better body, starting with a sturdy pair of shoes.
Whether you’re training for a Crossfit competition, a marathon or just to look good on the beach next summer (it’s ok to admit it!), a good pair of all-purpose cross-trainers will help you get fit.
When you look good, you lift good.
While the right attire may not directly lead to increased performance, it sure can’t hurt. Make sure you’ve got your bases covered with these key pieces.
You want something sweat-wicking, that fits well but not too tight.
If you’re new to the gym and just getting started on your workout plan, you’ll probably want something a little roomier. If you’ve been working out for months and want people to know it, you won’t mind a tighter fit.
Gone are the days when sweat pants were actually for sweating in.
Today’s workout pants are lightweight and made from a similar sweat-wicking material as the shirts. But, everything old is new again: elastic-bottomed pants that hug the ankles have come back into style.
Nothing derails a workout faster than excess sweat in a man’s most sensitive places.
Fortunately, fitness brands are aware of the problem and have used the breathable, sweat-wicking material of other athletic clothes to create underwear that will help keep you dry where it counts.
Let’s be honest: men’s feet don’t smell like roses at the best of times. But after a workout? Watch out.
Grab a multi-pack of breathable athletic socks as a gift not just for yourself, but for everyone around you when you take those cross trainers off.
Put it to Good Use!
Once you’re geared up, discover the step-by-step method for starting (and sticking to!) a workout plan here.
Where to Shop in Order to Look (and Feel) Good
You don’t need to look further than your local mall to find stores that sell stylish, well made and affordable menswear – you just need to know what to look for. Below is a brief round up of a few of my favorite places to find clothes that make me look and feel my best.
When it comes to retail stores, few can compete with J.Crew’s combination of great style and great construction.
Their clothes are well made and always sure to make you look both modern and gentlemanly, but the one caveat I’ll flag with them is that they’ll charge you for it.
I’d recommend using J.Crew to buy the sort of investment pieces you intend to have for a long time: suits, coats and jackets, the perfect pair of go-everywhere pants, that sort of thing.
One of J.Crew’s primary competitors, BR is probably the best place to go for menswear offerings that are slightly more affordable than J.Crew, but often just as stylish.
Tip: sign up for their email newsletter to get 30% off your first purchase.
Where J.Crew is a good place to go for investment pieces, BR is a great source of day-to-day clothes you can wear the shit out of. Their slim-fit shirts and pants, luxe touch polos and many of their sweaters are perfect for everyday wear.
Banana Republic’s more casual cousin, the Gap is a great place for classic staples of American menswear, including everything from jeans and chinos to sweaters and even blazers.
Each year they also do a team up with GQ magazine called GapxGQ, where some of GQ’s chosen designers put their own spin on classic pieces. Definitely worth keeping an eye out for.
This Japanese brand offers a lot of well made and decently priced staples in cuts that tend to be a bit slimmer/more modern than some of the larger American chains. I personally swear by their merino wool v-neck sweaters. Check out my full review of them here.
If you’re looking for better quality than Aldo but can’t quite justify the price of Allen Edmonds, J&M has you covered. I have three different pairs of J&M shoes and each pair combines an excellent toe shape with comfort and durability. Full write up on the J&M Karnes Cap Toe Boot over here.