Updated: Oct 21, 2020
In a time where so much unrest exist, where there is so much to lose and yet still so much to seize and to gain, confidence seems like it's an elusive unicorn. I stumbled across this quote by Henry David Thoreau while I was looking for another quote (which happened to be a song), but both moments, equally pointed and both help me detail this post. However, Sir Henry David Thoreau grabbed my attention for a few of his life details. He was, for his day, (pardon my non-French), he was a "sh** starter". He's anti-government and believed in the power of the people. He believed that if people were allowed to just be who they were, at their core, people were good and would do good by each other. He was an abolitionist (anti slavery), and anti taxes (I'm so down). He was a rablerouser back in the 1800's...and today he'd just be plain ol crazy. While all of this made me want to fist bump Henry and salute him with a cool nickname, his anti political views and seemingly moral regard for ALL people, are not the subject of my post. I am drawn to Henry because of his ability to have faith against all odds, and an unshakeable belief in the strength of his dream!
So first off, let's break down what confidence is and why it evades so many people when it comes to applying it to their skills, living out and pursuing their dreams. CONFIDENCE - is a FIRM trust or strong belief in someone or something. It's a credence, unwavering connection to knowing or believing that someone or something will do, become, deliver or result in what was expected. Okay..got it. Confidence is belief..like seriously believing.
Confidence is also bold. Truth is, you have to be bold to believe in something, especially when the surroundings or conditions don't necessarily align itself to what you are believing. So the real question and issue we face, is how do we become confident? I'm glad you asked. I've learned that confidence escapes us, escaped me as often as it did, because my focus was off and my attempt to be confident was misplaced. Let me explain further. I've said before that I quit my job some years ago because I was unhappy with a number of related conditions. Before I quit, I was fine with struggling in a job that really wasn't going to produce what I wanted, and leaders who were not interested in developing me to get to the next level. I was fine to stay and struggle because I couldn't really see my value and because I wasn't sure what "role" I'd be good at next, I allowed my fear of failure to keep me where I was.
What changed is when my manager told me that I would NEVER get another opportunity from her if I decided I didn't want to accept what she was offering me at the time. In that moment it was clear to me. While I still wasn't sure what my specific move could be, I knew beyond all doubt, that I WAS capable of more than that. What previously had me afraid to take a step, made me angry and offended. That anger fueled me to believe that I had enough skill to at least pursue something else and not wait for someone to give me something. So here is how confidence was developed:
I knew what I knew - I knew I was clear about what my skills were in that moment. I knew that I had a strong support background. I knew that I had supported technical projects, I knew I was organized, I knew that I was successful (I had performance reviews to prove it). I knew that meant something and would mean something to someone else.
I rehearsed what I knew - Once I identified my WHAT, I started training myself to communicate it. I knew that if I didn't sound like I knew what I knew, it would be a hard sell to another organization or a recruiter. Learning from the role I was in, I realized it would be critically necessary for me to be able to speak about myself and my skills clearly and concisely. I learned to develop my "elevator pitch", I practiced my interview technique and pushed myself to articulate my own self value.
I did a rebrand - I cleaned up the things around me that didn't reflect where I wanted to go. While I still wasn't really clear on my new company or new role, I started to form an idea. I researched my skills, my strengths. When my direction became clear, I made sure my resume told that story. I didn't quit my job without taking my Performance Evaluation feedback with me. So I knew where my peers and my management saw my strong points. I made sure that was reflected in my resume as well with all my accomplishments.
I trusted myself - I learned to trust my own voice and stopped talking myself out of trying. I reminded myself that no one, and I mean NO ONE, was going to go harder for me than me. So I found a network to help move my skills and resume along. I went after things that I was only 25% qualified for. Most of the time, it was a risk and a flop. But sometimes, it worked. While I knew I probably wouldn't get hired, I was teaching myself to go for what I deserved.
I saw myself where I wanted to be - I had to see what no one else saw. I had to see what I didn't see. I wanted to own a process, so I envisioned myself doing just that. I only focused on opportunities that would allow me to be a process owner. When recruiters brought me roles that felt too familiar, I reminded myself that this wasn't the goal and turn it down. Rejecting a job when you're unemployed feels counterproductive and disrespectful. But it wasn't the plan for my life, so I had to turn it away. I couldn't get distracted by shiny and pretty and new. I trusted myself enough to know it wasn't for me. Anything less than my vision for myself, was a setup and a lie and I refused to get sucked back in to doing anything, for the sake of saying that I had something.
I established a timeline and stuck to it - I set a realistic goal for myself to get the role I was going after. I knew the money I wanted and the role. I knew I only had 90 days. By then I ran out of my reserve of expenses. I helped my husband support our family, and while he was supportive, I owed it to myself to get this task done and make it flawless. I had a goal, and I remained focused and resilient.
Eventually, I secured the role and the bag to the tune of a little more than 20K over that previous salary. The investment in myself paid off more than I had expected. Fast forward to today. My salary is a little more than 100K over what it was back then. I've led million dollar projects, I've led highly skilled development teams and I've deployed and redefined new processes in my career. I've also mentored and coached junior talent new in their careers, wondering how they navigate this crazy workforce. Confidence doesn't just show up. You call it forth. Confidence grows with every win. It grows because you acknowledge those wins. You are willing to say, I did that, and yes I can. Confidence comes out of your mouth and is conceived in your mind. It's shaped by your own words and deeds. Every step you take, every time you fall and get back up, confidence, the unwavering belief and strong trust in your ability to do, grows. And with each risk you take, with each win, that belief in yourself propels you forward. Forces you to do more, go farther, try harder, be bolder, and stay consistently true to yourself.
Confidence is elusive because we think it's a destination. It's a journey. It's a series of milestones, good and bad. It's the risks you take and the victory laps you run. Confidence is you against the world, against tradition, against what they offer you and their opinions of you. Confidence is you believing you. Start today, with something small. Rehearse it, take ownership of it. Allow it to take root in your heart and your spirit. Let it define you. You are great. You are successful...you know the reasons, don't be afraid to say it. When you do, you'll see your confidence soar.
Go CONFIDENTLY into your dreams...stop feeling okay with being quiet...let your confidence be loud. Make the world take notice. You are worth it.
These are absolutely my thoughts...