Charles Pépin translated from the French by Willard Wood


A Philosophy

Publication Date: Dec 31, 2019

224 pp


List Price US $14.99
ISBN: 978-1-59051-094-0


List Price US $25.99
Trim Size (H x W): 5.5 x 8.25
ISBN: 978-1-59051-093-3

Inspired by great figures from Emerson and Nietzsche to Madonna and Serena Williams, this engaging philosophical essay explores the workings of self-confidence and how to develop it.

Where does self-confidence come from? How does it work? What makes it stronger or weaker? Why are some people more confident than others? Is it only a question of temperament or the result of conscious self-improvement? How do you get closer to those who stand out thanks entirely to their confidence in themselves?

Drawing on philosophical texts, ancient wisdom, positive psychology, and a wide range of case studies that feature famous thinkers, artists, and athletes, but also unsung heroes like a fighter pilot and an urgent care doctor, Charles Pépin brings to light the strange alchemy that is self-confidence. By doing so, he gives us the keys to having more confidence in ourselves.

Excerpt from Self-Confidence

While working on this book, I met a quite unusual mountain climber, Érik Decamp. A graduate of the prestigious École Polytechnique, he had climbed some of the highest peaks in the world, including
Ganesh IV in the Himalayas and Shishapangma in Tibet, with his wife, the well-known climber Catherine Destivelle. But he was also an alpine guide, that is, a professional in the field of self-confidence. To practice this profession, you need to have confidence in yourself and you need to be able to impart it to others, to the clients you are guiding. To help a person overcome his fear, Decamp uses a strategy that might seem risky but that often proves very effective: when someone seems particularly nervous during the preparation and training before departure, Decamp will sometimes pick him to lead the climb. Often that is enough to free the person of his anxiety. Because the guide shows trust in him, the nervous climber suddenly feels stronger. Decamp begins by giving him confidence, through his advice, his explanations, and by rehearsing various moves and protocols until they became second nature. Then he shows that he trusts the climber by asking him to lead off. With the others roped in behind him, the designated leader has to show that he is worthy of the confidence that has been placed in him. […]

Every parent, every instructor, every teacher, every friend in Aristotle’s sense, should keep in mind this two-pronged method of making someone confident: first instill confidence, then show confidence. First, give them a sense of security, then make them a little insecure. We need both sides to be able to go out into the world. And often, these two dimensions are mingled in the gaze that others
train on us: seeing the confidence in their eyes, we feel ourselves to be stronger.

“An essay that draws from case studies and philosophical texts to break down the nuances of self-confidence and how it develops.” —New York Times Book Review

“[Pépin unifies] disparate examples (including Sigmund Freud, and Søren Kierkegaard, Madonna, and Serena Williams) with his own memories of developing self-confidence as a student and teacher…intriguing…punchy.” —Publishers Weekly

“[Pépin presents] a more nuanced understanding of self-confidence…A thoughtful read for anyone seeking the philosophical underpinnings of self-confidence.” —Library Journal

“A rewarding and intelligent work.” —Le Figaro

“Intriguing, profound, and eloquent.” —Elle (France)

“An inspiring reflection.” —L’Express

 “A book full of wisdom and joy.” —France Inter