November 11, 2016

Building Confidence

Can confidence alone help you land a job?

I recently received a question from a subscriber in my inbox:

"What’s the best way to be 100% confident my skill is enough to potentially land a job or either begin freelancing?" – Ryan

Sometime ago confidence became a desirable mindset (not trait – we’ll get into that soon). The notion of confidence has often held different connotations in various industries. In the media confidence is considered sexy, powerful and alluring. In business confidence can be confused as arrogant, dominant and bossy, especially if you’re a woman.

Regardless of how it’s viewed, a confidence mindset can provide us with huge boosts in our career and work.

Having a particular skill in something often isn’t enough if we’re aiming for success. You could be a skilled violinist, but without the confidence to perform in public your pet cat will be the only one to ever hear you play. 

In the Summer of 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, 19 year old Simone Biles dusted her hands in chalk and approached the bar. She’s arguably the best gymnast the world has ever seen. You have to admit that girl’s got skill and talent. While winning relies heavily on skill and strength, it also requires a heavy dose of confidence. Would she have performed as well at the Olympics if she lacked the confidence to perform?

Confidence is a not a skill or trait – it’s a mindset. Just like Madeline believed she could do anything, you can too.

Willing confidence however unfortunately isn’t enough. The best way to a confidence mindset is to accumulate it slowly over time. Turn fear into familiarity through practice and refinement. For example, how do you think you’d gain confidence in the following three scenarios: 

You have an important presentation due soonYou have a practical test next weekYou have a driving test tomorrow

I bet you’d gain it through practice, refinement and action (learning by doing). Repetitiveness in any skill helps you become better, which in turn helps gain confidence. This can carry over into creative pursuits too such as design, writing, podcasting, drawing or whatever it is that you do.

Though this poses a question: does a 100% confidence level exist? Maybe. Confidence is something almost all of us wish we had more of. Even the most famous and successful people can feel like they don’t have enough, or that they’re running low. 

Confidence isn’t something you achieve and then stays with you. It can deplete over time. 

However, not being 100% confident has it’s benefits too. It keeps you grounded and allows you to check in with yourself and review progress. Low confidence also invites you to challenge and question yourself. How can you improve? What could be done better next time? These are healthy questions that we should all be asking ourselves regardless of our confidence level.

Just like my recent experience with public speaking, certain things can rip confidence away from you at the time when you need it most, leaving us vulnerable. It’s up to us to channel that vulnerability into a learning experience. Just like I learnt how to improve my talks, you might learn something else useful to take onboard. Those valuable learnings can only come from being vulnerable.

It’s possible to have confidence yet still feel like an imposter. You might feel confident something will work out, but still question your personal legitimateness™.

Remember, we all have moments of uncertainty. Questioning ourselves is a good way to check in and see where our headspace is at.

While confidence is a desirable mindset it’s important to still be open to criticism. Just because you’re confident doesn’t mean you’re always right. Be open, honest and accept that it’s ok to be wrong sometimes.

Lastly, confidence can be projected through our body language, speech and actions too. Consider how you present and talk about your work. Do you speak clearly and with assertiveness? Or do you mumble your way through it?

Channel doses of confidence and energy from your mind to your body when you need it most. Though keep in mind that while confidence is a great mindset, there is such a thing as appearing over confident which is unlikely to be a good look. Making sure you’re keeping balance.

To answer Ryan’s question directly, confidence and skill alone is unlikely to be enough to land a job.

Unless you’re a unicorn, there’s usually more that goes into the decision making process. Employers or clients will also be looking to uncover your level of hunger, drive and passion for the job or project. 

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