CareerSherpas: Climbing the Mountain

When you’re on the way, it helps to share the load

A Note on Self-Confidence

There are lots of reasons why self-confidence is important. Libraries of books extole the virtues of being, showing, pretending to have and building self-confidence. I’ve been musing on what self-confidence actually is recently, as I consider the fact that I regularly see talented individuals doubting themselves.

In researching how the understanding of the concept has developed, I particularly liked the definition provided by MindTools.com in their article “Building Self-Confidence – Prepare yourself for success” which breaks the concept into two parts:

  • Self-efficacy which they describe as “when we see ourselves (and others similar to ourselves) mastering skills and achieving goals that matter in those skill areas. This is the confidence that, if we learn and work hard in a particular area, we’ll succeed; and it’s this type of confidence that leads people to accept difficult challenges, and persist in the face of setbacks” and the overlap with,
  • Self-esteem “which is a more general sense that we can cope with what’s going on in our lives, and that we have a right to be happy. Partly, this comes from a feeling that the people around us approve of us, which we may or may not be able to control. However, it also comes from the sense that we are behaving virtuously, that we’re competent at what we do, and that we can compete successfully when we put our minds to it.”

Something that alternately disturbs and confuses me is the number of individuals, including myself, who lose sight of their own worth and competency. This comes about through many factors, but most often comes down to two things:

  • The impact of negative perceptions from others
  • An inability to maintain visibility of accomplishments

Negative perceptions from others often aren’t within our immediate control. Small messages are transmitted all around us, perhaps more so in any environment where we are being assessed actively or passively. Sadly, that means any endeavor we engage in will be measured by someone’s reactions to our efforts. When this translates to messages to our managers, supervisors, tutors or clients, it is vital to be able to respond.

Maintaining communication is your only positive response. While the rumor mill is destructive, having an ear to how messages are being passed will give you the ability to respond and even communicate ahead of a problem surfacing. Make sure your successes, impediments and work are clear and maintain their visibility regularly. Absence may make the heart grow fonder, but it also provides an opening for negative messages to accumulate.

Keeping your accomplishments visible becomes more difficult when we are under stress, heavy workloads, or when the noise and distractions are drowning out the real messages about what we are doing. If everyone is in the same position, including your boss, it’s much easier for an immediate negative to outweigh a vast array of accomplishments. The more stress exists in your environment, the more bad behavior you and those around you will exhibit which reinforces the negative messages further.

Write down and update a list of your accomplishments regularly. Keep two lists if you can, one for major accomplishments and one for smaller accomplishments. The major accomplishments might not be something that changes regularly, but should be reviewed as a reminder frequently. The minor accomplishments on the other hand is something you’ll update, or create anew, frequently, but may not ever be something you review.

Make your accomplishments the first and last thing you bring to any conversation. The more you talk about them, and the more others retain what your past and current accomplishments are, the more those messages will start to drown out the detractors. Corroborating evidence will appear and reinforce your message both to those around you and, more importantly, to yourself.

Your self-confidence is not out of your control. Take the bull by the horns and show yourself how well you are doing.

Peter Fitzgerald is the founder of CareerSherpas.com and is currently working on his first book, conducting high-level business analysis, connecting individuals with ideas and opportunities, and attempting to learn the bagpipes.

One Response to “A Note on Self-Confidence”

  1. Winter boot Says:

    Wonderful, good saying and very vivid expression, i truly like your opinion about that.I gotta say very good and quite persuasive.

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