Sep 12th, 2010 | By | Category: abundance, application, aptitude, Career advice, career challenges, career choices, challenges, competing, confidence, office problems, personality, persuasion, self confidence, skills, success, training

PracticaL Mentor

Confidence is a necessary skill that is often neglected in the development of a career strategy. There are different kinds and degrees of confidence, and finding the balance that best suits your personality and goals is often difficult. As many people suffer from over confidence as lack of confidence not only in themselves, but also in their total perception of their environment.

Confidence is defined as: full trust; belief in the powers, trustworthiness, or reliability of a person or thing. ( Although the definition uses words like full trust and belief there are different degrees of confidence. For example, if you think of time when you were in competition, even though you were prepared and felt you could win there was a faint possibility that you may not prevail. Several gurus say that all doubt must be eliminated to be a truly confident person. Perhaps in a static environment, total confidence is an asset, but the workplace and competition are dynamic situations where everyone is constantly adapting to change there by creating more change. Although one can argue that total confidence includes the blind faith to adapt to the dynamics of the workplace, more often then not it enables competitors develop strategies to take advantage of the over confident attitude. Lack of confidence is even more deadly for often the lack of confidence inhibits the actions necessary to succeed. For example, most of us experienced a situation where we wanted to do something, like try out for a sport or apply for a job, but talked ourselves out it as not having a chance for success. We saved the competition the trouble by not even trying. The appropriate level of confidence enables a person to engage in a situation with a realistic perception of their ability to achieve success and to identify and remedy the obstacles that occur.

Displaying confidence is as important as possessing it. Seeing ourselves as others see us is virtually impossible, and even when we ask for feedback from others it is convoluted and suspect. I can remember watching westerns on TV where the strong silent hero sat quietly in the corner, and by the end of the movie had defeated the villain, become sheriff and got the girl. It was as though the less he tried the more things came his way. There were several things that I failed to consider as I thought that must be the way to achieve success. The modest awe shucks –twern’t nothing attitude that worked so well in the movies, gets trampled in the workplace where everyone is running for sheriff, and the extrovert appears to reap the largest share of the rewards. As I got a little older the theme seem to shift from the wallflower to personal power when larger than life superheroes captured the silver screen with an in your face attitude. The hero demanded instead of asked, and took rather than given what he wanted. There was a paradigm shift in what was viewed as a desirable success demeanor. The norm came to be loud and pushy to be successful. This mostly rude behavior often does produce short-term results, as most people are embarrassed to make a scene in public. However in the long term most people who constantly employ this tactic are easily isolated and confronted in private where they are often easily defeated. Then came my hero James Bond. The James Bond quality of confidence is the one I aspired to project. Neither meek and mild, nor rude and brash, the Bond type characters projected a stated confidence that they are smart and possess the skill to quietly but noticeably capable to overcome the obstacles they encounter to achieve their goal. They are recognized and respected as a force to be reckoned with, and maintain a charismatic social demeanor. This is the image I thought would suit my personality best. For others it was lifting weights and Rocky, etc. We all have our own personal image. But is that what we project? – Most often not.

Having a personal image that fits your personality is important, and even more important is learning how to display your personal image in a manner that others perceive correctly. For example, my James Bond want be demeanor was mainly interpreted as introverted and lack of confidence. Although in my minds eye I saw myself as cool, calm, and confident, everyone else perceived me to sit quietly in meetings, and not have many ideas to contribute. It was my one-on-one encounters that kept me in the game, until one of my mentors asked me why I was afraid to speak up in front of people. This was real shock for here I thought I was playing it cool, calm and collected, I was actually projecting the wallflower image and it was not working for me like it did for Tom Mix, I needed to add some Clint Eastwood. I started speaking up more at meetings, and not retreating from my ideas when challenged. Not really “make my day” Dirty Harry, but more Josie Wales. Perhaps James Bond is not a good model for an office environment.

Confidence is an important skill, and can be learned and developed like any other skill. Also like any other skill it must be employed to be useful. Knowing how to play tennis and playing tennis are two different things. It also important to demonstrate and have your skills recognized to gain full benefit. The idea of copying movie characters is one way to identify the persona you want to project, but it takes more than identifying the characteristics you also have to learn to project as the movie actor does. One-way is to observe how others react to you. Remember movies are scripted so the way other actors respond may not be the same as real life. Start small and develop your show of confidence, like any skill it takes time and constant practice. If you have a really good friend you can ask them for feedback. The surest way to find what work best for you is to find a mentor to help you develop and display confidence that meshes with your personality.

The PracticaL Mentor

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