It may be difficult but sticking your neck out is a necessity.
To build a career, you have to:
- Apply for jobs and accept offers
- Change jobs to get better ones
- Develop new relationships or repair damaged ones
- Commit to expectations and do what’s right
Putting yourself out there takes courage, and you don’t need self-confidence to do it.
The odd couple
Courage and self-confidence have an odd connection. Courage generally drags self-confidence along for the ride, often kicking and screaming. Why? Because the best way to build self-confidence is to test yourself routinely, taking sensible chances that teach you to trust yourself.
By definition, courage is that quality of mind and spirit that enables us to face danger, fear, and unexpected changes. Self-confidence is about the trust, faith, or assurance we have in our abilities. The more credit we give ourselves for our abilities, the more self-confidence we reap.
It’s terrific when we’re called to do work we believe we can do successfully. But that’s not always the case. Uncertainties set in like:
- Am I sure I have all the skills I need?
- Will the requirements change leaving me helpless?
- Will I be able to meet the expectations of a tough boss?
- Is this a team that will accept me?
- What if I fall on my face? Could this job flat-line my career?
Unfortunately, you can’t know these answers until you commit to the work. And that means firing up your courage.
Growth by chance
No risk…no growth. That’s the long and the short of it. We don’t build our self-confidence unless we test it through courageous actions.
Here are five basic ways:
A Gutsy Move–You listen to your rational self, override your fears, and make a career move. (Finally a job you’ve always wanted is vacant. The posting is up, just begging you to apply, so you do.)
You Won’t Hide–Circumstances make it impossible for you to avoid accepting a new assignment and expanded duties that point to you. (Everyone knows you have the technical knowledge, hands-on experience, and customer connections needed, so the team can reach its goals. You’re clearly the wo/man.)
Soft-heartedness–Your coworkers desperately want you to take over the project and lead the team. (No one wants to work for or with a newcomer. They want you there to ensure an environment that brings the best out of everyone.)
No Choice–Crisis hits and there’s no one around with the expertise to do the work or lead it. (Suddenly, seasoned leaders are gone, storm damage to company facilities threatens production, and employee backlash is escalating. You act because you have to.)
Courage feeds our self-confidence.
Case in point.
In a sense, we create a contest between what we know we need to do (driven by courage) and an internal force trying to defeat us (doubts about ourselves).
Seventh-grader, Grant Reed, has cancer, a brain tumor. He was profiled by Steve Hartman, reporter for the CBS Sunday Morning program (12/01/13), because he had a unique way of thinking about it.
Cancer is a scary word for anyone and Grant is no exception. What’s different about Grant is that he won’t use the word or let anyone else around him use it .
Grant is a die-hard Ohio State football fan and the University of Michigan is their arch rival. All he wants is for the Buckeyes to beat the Wolverines. So calls his cancer “Michigan,” never any other word, because cancer is his personal rival to beat.
Career challenges can be scary too. Not catastrophic illness scary, but unnerving enough. There are challenges like office bullying, harassment, and ostracism; negative performance feedback, a wrong job, and expectations we aren’t ready for. Each requires courage and the self-confidence to get through them.
The battle is always against ourselves, so we need touchstones to help us over the humps. We need to find our “Michigans” for inspiration and motivation. My word has always been personal “independence,” something always worth fighting for. What’s yours?