Do you think that you will end up acting like a jerk if you are confident?
If you have the skills to do something, why wouldn’t you have the belief in yourself to perform successfully? What stops you (often women) from taking desire and turning it into action?
I was once invited to a problem solving roundtable at an institution of higher education. The facilitator suggested that we go around the table and talk a bit about ourselves. After being identified by name, each person names the places they had earned their various degrees: Harvard, Yale, Stanford, MIT, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, Williams, Brown, Columbia, and Georgetown — you get the drift. When my turn came I added my alma maters – State University College of New York at Oswego and State University College of New York at Brockport. My fantasy? They would look at each other, then look at me, and ask me to leave.
It is fine to admit to nervousness but don’t let that prevent you from taking a risk and reaching for your goals. The truth is that no one really cares about how you are feeling inside except you. Therefore, no one really needs to know how you are feeling inside.
Confidence is often seen as the ability to be more efficient at decision making. Indecision looks like inability, not contemplation. Few people are willing to wait around while you work to figure it out. Even when faced with push back and intimidation, action beats inaction.
Confidence is a way you approach the world – no matter what. No matter how you feel about your chances and no matter what you think others could be thinking. The message sent is that you are a problem solver and can figure things out. How do you know this? Because you have a history of examples of figuring things out. Granted, few of us can figure everything out. But as I have pointed out numerous times, if you have used problem solving skills in one area of your life, these skills are transferable and can be applied in other areas of your life as well.
Confidence often stumbles due to how you feel about yourself. Self-esteem is feeling good about how you see yourself in a variety of skill areas – each one being a discreet self-image. I have a good self-image with regards to my training because I’ve been making a living at it for years, am able to acquire new clients and often am asked to return to work with new clients. I have a terrible self-image about my bowling because I have a lifetime of consistently poor scores even when coached. When you add up the variety of skill areas in your life, you come up with a total which I call self-esteem. Your self-esteem can range from “I don’t have much to be proud of’ to I have a number of things to be proud of.”
Add how likely you think opportunity exists for you into that mix. Are you an optimist or a pessimist? Your belief that you can have a positive impact on things has a bearing on how confident you might be.
Then couple that with an ability to be kind to yourself if you don’t succeed. Knowing that not achieving perfection or success isn’t a deal breaker allows a little bit of an emotional safety net. We know that the chances of always winning when we risk is unlikely. Perfection isn’t the goal – moving the needle forward is the goal.
Don’t kid yourself – confidence is not just a mental thing. You need to experience some measure of success to start a foundation upon which you can build. Not allowing doubt and fear to stop you from taking an action is the beginning of developing confidence.
So when it came to talking at the above mentioned meeting, I contributed as much as the other participants and at the end of the meeting, a few of my ideas ended up being action items for the group. I left realizing that no one asked to leave the meeting! Where I went to school might matter and it might not matter, but academic experience was not ever referred to again. The end result was that I added value as a contributor. My confidence got a shot in the arm and served to fuel further action.
Confidence is the knowledge that you have the stuff that makes success a good bet. Bet on yourself and someone else will too.