September: Career Kick Start Month
We all have a perception of what confidence is and how a confident person behaves, but often can’t relate that to ourselves directly. This can have a significant impact on our ability to thrive at work (as well as in other areas of our life), so we’ll look at how to bring confidence back to us as individuals and how to take back control.
What is confidence? Why do we need it at work? Why do some people seem to have it and others just don’t? Why does it come and go? Let’s have a look at this in terms of our career and work-life.
I could write about this for hours, because so much of my work when I’m career coaching is about helping people find their superpowers and turning that into the confidence and passion they need to succeed in their career. For the purposes of this blog, let’s keep it short and just pick up on a couple of points.
Why do we need confidence at work?
I’m sure you can all think of confident people. A sports person? A TV personality? A business leader? Sarah from the Sales team? Normally we think of confidence as being a good thing and something that we want or want to demonstrate. But why is it even a thing? Why do we notice it (or the lack of it) at work.
It’s because when it comes to work, everyone operates as a team, even the sole traders will still have their network and the people they rely on to get their job done. No one is an island.
And because the success of what you are doing is often so closely linked to the success of what someone else is doing, it’s natural that we want the best person to be doing that job. Someone who is confident in their job.
In many cases we have to delegate jobs to others and because we want those jobs to be done well, we will normally always choose the person in whom we have the most confidence. So having confidence in your own abilities is an important way to build your career and find success at work.
For me, confidence comes from a few things:
- Your perception of how other’s will view your actions (we can’t control).
- Your own perception of how well you can deal with what’s in front of you (your capability – you can control).
- The level of risk involved – what’s at stake if you don’t succeed (you can control).
- How much of your attention you can give to the action (your capacity – you can control).
You can see by this list that there are a lot of variables to do with having confidence, which means that whenever we see someone who appears to be confident, they are possibly only confident in that moment that we see them. Remember that this isn’t a permanent state for anyone because there are too many elements which can change. We also can’t control everything on this list, so focusing our energies in the right places is important.
Confidence is a personal thing.
The other important point is that confidence is quite a personal thing, by this I mean that we all have our own view of what a confident person is like – and what we think we ‘should’ look like when we are feeling confident.
A person who walks on stage full of smiles and gives an engaging, memorable, funny presentation may look confident to us, but what if they had been throwing up in the toilet 10 minutes before with nerves? Does that make them less confident?
What about a quiet person who goes on stage and gives a serious, more measured, highly disciplined presentation? They may not have the loud personality of the first person, but does that make them less confident? It’s all to do with perception.
The perception of others is on the list of things that make up our confidence BUT it is also on the long list of ‘Things we can’t control’. We often can’t even guess very accurately what their perception of us is because we have to assume so much and second guess their reactions; we put our own lens over everything that others do and say. This means that getting it 100% correct is near impossible. So let’s focus on what we CAN control to help us to build our own confidence.