Confidence — one very tough customer to master.
If you’ve ever stood tentatively in front of an audience or felt like an impostor after being praised or promoted — I’d place a wager those nagging feelings were rooted in your level of confidence.
When you consider confidence in the workplace there are many platitudes, but few ring true. How do you truly “believe” in yourself when faced with the career moments that matter most?
Those situations simply cannot be scaled by rehearsed advice.
So, how do we really build confidence?
Well — I’ve stumbled upon one perspective that may hit a nerve (and reading it stopped me cold).
I don’t often find time for magazines. Yet, when I visit my corner hair salon, I leave my phone at home and unplug. I thumb through Glamour, Vogue, Allure — and they all offer their own brand of career advice. One column in particular shared at Glamour was authored by Mindy Kaling. Of course, she is not a traditional career writer as she’s an actress. However, she has managed to accomplish career-wise what few have in her industry, which I find noteworthy.
Here is her thoughtful response to this question, originally posed by a nervous young girl at a speaking engagement — which she admittedly got all wrong the first time around:
“How did you build your confidence?”
Her revised response was direct and unapologetic.
It went something like this (I apologize for the choice of words, they were hers and would lose something with an edit).
Work very hard. Know your $hit. Show your $hit. Then feel entitled.
I agree 100% that confidence is rooted in mastery. In experiences. In owning what you bring to the table. Confidence comes from building feelings of self-efficacy in a wide range of situations. It requires challenge, a fair amount of balanced exploration and failure — mentorship, guidance and exposure.
True confidence includes the notion that we are not entitled to rewards, simply because we desire them. Rewards come with time and hard work.
- Confidence comes from learning from those around you.
- It requires patience and the belief that you can learn something from every person and every scenario.
- It requires adequate feedback and reflection.
- It is the deeper realization that you can handle the problems (and people) that stand before you.
- Confidence is earned.
When you do practice your craft — confidence is your entitlement.
So try the following:
- Seek broad experiences and “challenge assignments”.
- Develop a deep knowledge of your industry and its current experts.
- Push yourself. Get up when you fall. Alter your course. Rebound.
- Find a mentor who helps you recognize and invest in your talent.
- Be aware of the competencies you may require ahead of the “disruption curve“.
- Continue to learn.
And then — yes — feel entitled to some measure of success.
Through all this, I suspect that confidence arrives unannounced — with little fanfare. It takes hold, then lives in your workplace soul and cannot be measured by the sum of your individual experiences.
It’s more akin to letting a gorgeous, glistening wave roll over you.
That clears things up.
What are your thoughts about building confidence? Share them.
Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist, consultant and coach. She holds the role of Director of Organizational Development at Allied Talent, bringing the principles of The Alliance to organizations worldwide.