Do you believe in your ability to succeed? That’s one definition of confidence, which goes a long way in building a successful career and life.
There’s a difference, of course, between being confident and being arrogant – and many would agree that confidence tempered by humility can be a good thing. Just as too much humility might go hand in hand with an aversion to risk that results in missed opportunities, a case of overconfidence can lead us to make mistakes. What about the times, though, when people struggle with confidence?
Are you familiar with the term? Or, perhaps, do you feel this term sometimes defines you?
Those who identify with the term may feel they’re not skilled or accomplished so much as lucky … or a fraud.
People in this situation can feel (despite evidence to the contrary) that their achievements are the result of timing, luck or almost anything to do with their capabilities.
Some say there’s a sensation of just waiting to be found out.
I’ve had conversations with successful people who identified as struggling with imposter syndrome. Until they began discussing this challenge, I’d never have guessed that to be the case. I’d perceived them as confident people who projected high degrees of competence, engagement and professionalism.
What happens when we lose confidence
Whatever the cause, it can happen to many of us. You made a mistake. You didn’t land that job you really wanted. Or, perhaps you and your principal don’t have the working relationship you’d hoped for. Your confidence takes a hit, and you feel your resilience declining.
When this happens, it becomes all too easy to second guess your decisions. That leads to declines in productivity and effectiveness – and a potential spiral. Whatever the cause, there are strategies for rebuilding one’s confidence. Working on competencies through professional development is always a good approach.
Confidence as a booster of resilience
Paula Davis-Laack, a former practicing lawyer who went on to earn her master’s degree in applied positive psychology, coaches and teaches “burnout prevention and resiliency skills” to professionals around the globe.
In an article for Forbes, Davis-Laack wrote that, “When you doubt your capabilities, it’s more likely that you will give up prematurely or settle for poorer solutions when faced with obstacles, setbacks and behaviours.” She flagged confidence as one of the keys to building resilience, and is a strong believer in self-efficacy.
What are we talking about here? As Davis-Laack wrote, “Self-efficacy is the belief in your ability to solve work/life challenges and succeed. It’s also domain specific, which means that you may feel highly confident negotiating a contract but have little confidence in leading a new committee.”
If you have a look at Davis-Laacks’ recommendations, you’ll find she advocates for developing self-efficacy through various means, including learning by observing others, or identifying and then mastering specific experiences. The latter could be as simple as joining the professional network in your area and showing up to an event even if you don’t know anyone.
Many networks, with England’s Manchester PA Network being a prime example, go out of their way to welcome and encourage new members. If you’re already a member of a professional association, you might consider putting your skills to use for a specific project or undertaking for your network. In so doing, you’re exercising and further developing skills you already possess. Or, you might target an office committee or cause to which you can contribute. Taking action can help restore or build confidence, which helps with resilience.
All this leads us to the focus of this weekend’s poll:
How confident are you in your career?
Please take a couple of minutes to complete the poll below. As always, I look forward to hearing what you have to say; watch here for results early next week.