Want to Make It? Then Believe You Will…Without a Doubt.

“Why not me?” That’s the nagging question we often ask ourselves after we fail to:

David Ferrer

  • Get that promotion
  • Receive recognition or reward for our contributions
  • Land the job we wanted

Whether we’re an individual contributor, supervisor, manager, or executive, there will always be some career goal that keeps eluding us. So what’s the answer?

Know how to compete.

“Making it” is about competing. You want to progress in your career, and so do most of the people working with you. That means those coworkers are also attempting to stand out and showcase their value.

Unlike in sports, we don’t find ourselves pitted against each other in a specific contest each day, but we are continuously being compared to one  another by our supervisors and managers.

They assess our:

  • knowledge, skills, and experience
  • desire, motivation, and reliability
  • work ethic and integrity
  • ability to collaborate, engage others, and lead
  • mental toughness and focus in the face of adversity

We  compete, every day, by demonstrating our ability to get desired results. The more significant our contributions, the more value the company will assign to us.

Sadly, this isn’t always enough to “make it” in our terms.

Believe you will.

You aren’t the only one putting together your portfolio of value attributes. Others are doing it too.

Remember: You are all performing as best you can, differentiating yourselves, building relationships, and getting ready for that next big step.

You increase your chances of making that step when you really believe you will.

We all tell ourselves that we want to, are ready to, are prepared to, have worked to, and are entitled to that step. But that’s not the same as believing we will…with no doubt, no second-guessing, no probably. We must believe we WILL.

David Ferrer is a Spanish professional tennis player, currently World No. 5 in the ATP Rankings. He turned professional in 2000 and is known as a clay-court specialist, although he has also had success on hard courts.

He routinely faces current tennis greats Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer who have amassed numerous championship titles. They routinely beat Ferrer and are almost always between him and a championship title.

The fact is that Ferrer has all the skills and desire to win:

Ferrer is noted for being one of the more dogged, agile and fit players on the tour… Ferrer has won many matches through consistent baseline play along with great fitness, footspeed and determination. Although he does not possess powerful  groundstrokes like many of his contemporaries, his ability to keep the ball deep in play has allowed him to be successful on all surfaces, especially on clay and hard courts… Roger Federer regards Ferrer as the best returner in the men’s game.

So what’s the obstacle for Ferrer?

While I was watching the 2012 Internazionali BNL d’Italia tournament where Ferrer faced Nadal in the semi-final, one of the TV commentators offered his opinion that, as good as Ferrer was, it appeared he simply didn’t believe he could beat his higher ranked rivals.

Who can say for sure if that’s true for Ferrer, but what about in your case?

Do you believe?

So we come to another question…one only you can answer. It takes something deep inside to get us to really believe we can achieve our personal career goals. That believing is a mental discipline that we form through:

  • Constructive feedback consistently internalized from people we trust and respect
  • Absorbing the confidence shown by others–our fans, our supporters, our friends/family
  • Committing to prove something to ourselves
  • Wanting to share success with those who are invested in us and/or for a  cause
  • Realizing that our time will come, so we must remain ready

There is no predicting when we will move from where we are to really believing in ourselves and our ability to secure our brass ring. We need to teach ourselves to deny self-doubt any place in our thinking and replace it with the belief that, through our continued hard work and diligence, we will make it. You gotta believe, okay?

Photo from beelde.com via Flickr

Gutsy or Wimpy? Your Choice | Purposeful Risk-taking

 “What am I made of?” Ever asked yourself that question? The answer is often elusive. 

We face career tests all the time. Our bosses may assign us to: 

  • Moderate a contentious meeting
  • Host an important customer from out of town
  • Analyze mounds of disjointed data
  • Hire, train, and supervise a group of interns 

When these challenges are outside our jobs, we may need to stretch, navigate uncharted waters, and overcome self-doubt.

 Our results can either help or hurt our prospects for career growth. 

Careers are a crap shoot. 

That means that there are times when you have to roll the dice. If you don’t take chances, you won’t progress. 

Career risk-taking tests our: 

  • Self-confidence
  • Skills and knowledge
  • Relationship with coworkers
  • Decision-making and judgment
  • Tolerance for stress 

When our boss pushes us out of our comfort zone, we want to believe that s/he: 

  • Wouldn’t ask us to do something we couldn’t do
  • Will have our backs
  • Thinks this is the right time for us 

So you’re ready to go, right? 

Truth is: plenty of people wimp out. They make excuses or explain: 

  • why they aren’t ready
  • why no one will accept them in that role
  • how the risks are too high 

Here come our fear of failure, lack of confidence, and nagging insecurities to block us again. Even coworkers with what look like strong egos and plenty of swagger feel their blood run cold when faced with a high-risk career assignment. 

It’s about the stakes.   

There’s no risk if nothing’s on the line. When we know we’re wagering our career future on a big assignment, we pause. Instead of believing that we’ll win, we worry that we’ll lose. 

This is when you must ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen if I flub this?” (The real answer is never as dire as the one in your head.) Then ask, “Why do I think I would?” (Get ready to stand there thinking for a while.) 

I was promoted to director of customer service at a time of significant upheaval in the department. I was also a fish out of water, knowing precious little about our customer call center, collections, and dispatching. The company was carrying over $64 million in overdue accounts and facing testy questions from regulators. 

I was in the job for eight weeks when my boss (the senior VP) told me I needed to make a board of director’s presentation on these issues. I was panic-stricken. 

I knew the bare minimum about how the corporate financials were being impacted. Board appearance protocol was completely foreign to me, and the internal political pressure was daunting. I could have begged off but decided to gut it out. 

I was more than weak-kneed as I waited “on-call.” My prepared information was solid. (The executives made sure of that!) It was the Q & A period that worried me. 

I made my best effort, but more than once, corporate execs leaped to my aid without making me look bad. They often anticipated that I would not know the context for board questions and headed off awkward moments. 

I survived this ordeal and so did my career. It wasn’t my best performance, but it was good enough. 

The upside for me was the respect I got from employees and colleagues for having the guts to stand up and be accountable for the business functions on my watch. 

Showing courage carries weight no matter what the outcome.

 Go for it. 

It’s not easy to stick your neck out, but it’s necessary. I’ve lost count of all the stomachaches I’ve had because I was unsure of myself. I still get them, though not as often. 

You just can’t let your doubts stymie you, unless you want to stay where you are forever. 

You get real points for trying. So here are 100 from me to start you off. The rest are up to you!

Photo from debaird at Flickr

Think You’re Not Good Enough? Look Around! | Evolving Self-Confidence

I often hear this: “I don’t have enough:

  • experience for that job
  • knowledge to lead a team
  • years with the company to advance
  • know-how to start my own business.” 

Exactly, who says we aren’t good enough? Most of the time, we’re the guilty party.

Doubt is our enemy.

Negative self-talk is often riddled with self-doubt. We look at what others are achieving, compare ourselves, and question whether we have what it takes. We self-assess against standards that we invent before we know what the real expectations are.

Self-confidence is as much about being willing to explore an opportunity as it is about being able to execute an assignment. All too often, we worry about our ability to do a job before we understand what it is.

Doubt cannot be allowed to rule.  

The antidote to doubt is reality. Not some “reality” you imagine but the reality that exists.

Start by looking around. Who is doing the work that you think you’re “not good enough” to do as well or better?

Look hard and long at those people. Watch exactly what they do and say. Pay attention to the actual results they produce. Examine their work closely. Find out what others are saying about it.

Then ask yourself, “Can I produce work like that or better?”  My guess is that, in most cases, your answer will be, “Sure.”

If you’ve been reading my posts for a bit, you know that I spent many years as a commercial horse breeder. I knew nothing about it when I started.

Before I bought my farm, I had doubts about whether or not I could care for horses on my own since I’d had no knowledge or experience. The owner of the barn where I’d been boarding warned me, “You could kill those horses if you don’t feel ‘em right.” That rocked me.

Then I stopped to think about her and the other people I’d met who were in the horse business. I asked myself, “Is there any reason to believe that the people in this business are smarter than I am? Do I have good people to advise me when I have questions?” The answers were obvious.

Self-confidence is not arrogance. 

Arrogance is when you act like you know everything. Self-confidence is about believing in yourself. It builds courage, keeps you moving forward in spite of setbacks, and enables you to seize opportunities to grow.

You find self-confidence by looking positively at yourself, acknowledging what you can do. You build self-confidence by testing your capabilities.

The biggest mistake we make is telling ourselves that we have to be the best at something before we are “entitled” to be self-confident. In fact, we just have to be as good as the situation requires.

Role models are everywhere. 

If your self-confidence is a bit shaky, it’s time to look around and see who’s out there doing what you want to do with capabilities similar to yours. In the past four months, I watched these two confidence-building situations unfold:

1.) A Gen Y college grad, who hated her job, started a blog, made professional on-line contacts, was recognized for her writing talents, started freelancing, and just got a full-time job.

2.) An experienced marketing professional was downsized, couldn’t find another job, talked to independent contractors about how they worked, informally looked for clients, blogged about her “start up” experiences, got great advice, opened an office, and saw her business start to grow.

Self-confidence evolves. Every step you take helps you build your truly capable self. You can mentor, volunteer to lead a team, give speeches, deliver training, start a hobby business, or cover a temporary vacancy at work.

Every step you take to become business fit builds your self-confidence. If you haven’t had a chance to learn the seven smart moves, perhaps now’s the time. Your self-confidence is your success engine. Without it, we don’t move very far or very fast. Vroooom!

How has your self-confidence been tested? What were you able to do to overcome your doubts and move ahead? Thanks for helping out!