In Australia, being too confident can be frowned upon if it’s considered you’re a bit full of yourself – like your blowin’ your own trumpet, you know what I mean. In other nationalities however, it’s fine to celebrate your success and in fact, your own personal congregation will all stand and chorus halleluiah as you regale your achievements. But not us Aussies, oh no. It’s ok to be a star, but once you’ve shone, you need turn out the light quick smart and wait humbly for your next opportunity. In fact, best you even forget your success if you want to keep your mates.
OK, so I am no longer redundant, in fact I haven’t been for about 5 months and hasn’t it flown. I am completely engaged in my new role as a GM of a consulting company, but the desire to write is still strong, and as I reflect on the success writing has been for me, I put my toe back in with confidence (not conceit).
If I’m too confident, will people think I am conceited?
In a recent coaching conversation, someone expressed their concern to me that if they got too confident they may be considered conceited. It’s amazing what hurdles we can put in the way of our progress. If there isn’t one, then we quickly construct one. Now here is the value of self-awareness. Self-awareness leads to self-coaching. You begin to question your own motivations and you bring yourself to account. My old coach (she’s not old per se), tells me I am coaching myself continually. Makes for an interesting conversation. I begin a sentence, then half way through I provide an answer, or some commentary on what I have begun saying, and then reach a conclusion by myself. Quite satisfactory really. She just sits and smiles patiently, looking out the window of the coffee shop waiting for me to finish. I could just take myself out for a coffee.
Hurry up and learn a tune before you miss an orchestra place
But that’s not what I was talking about. I was talking about confidence versus Conceit. They’re not the same at all and one is very valuable. It is really important that you feel comfortable to make a contribution and the comfort will come from believing you can add value. It is particularly important in a business environment. That restraint… that reserve, is often a sign of a lack of confidence, a lack of self-belief, not a lack of ability to make a meaningful contribution. And here’s the bad news, it can be career limiting. We’ve all sat in a meeting dominated by a person who is merely blocking the airwaves and not advancing the collective knowledge of the human race. But we’ve also sat in meetings with people who we admire because they are prepared to make a contribution, sometimes stumble, even fall, but move forward as a result of their efforts. And later we have thought, why didn’t I do that, I had a good idea, I had some experience to contribute. You admire them, of course you do, but secretly you resent them.
Go ahead, blow your own trumpet
One of the best ways to build that confidence is to spend time reflecting on your successes and achievements. Think about the relevant things you’ve done and the times when someone has given you a pat on the back for a job well done, for a good idea etc. Be comfortable sharing those with others as a contribution to a conversation. But if you’re not one for even celebrating that success in the relative peace of your own mind, or on a notepad in front of you, then my next suggestion is to mentor one or two people. It’s a great way to build personal confidence and self-belief. Mentoring is an excellent way to recall your achievements and to reflect on your experience in a safe and appropriate situation. It’s amazing what comes up in a mentoring conversation that you have compartmentalised away in the grey matter for a rainy day. You literally surprise yourself. Did I really do that, did I achieve that? Yes I did. It’s also amazing how much more comfortable you then become in other environments as you begin to appreciate yourself a little more.
So there’s a tip for the New Year. You can do something for yourself while doing something for someone else.