Confidence isn’t for you

One of my ongoing resolutions is to be more confident. This was not really accomplished last year and when New Year’s came around again, I didn’t actually make any promising. I realized that, besides my horrendous typos, I didn’t have bad habits that I was treating to break. Rather, my resolutions were me trying to improve myself. Something that I think is a bit harder to accomplish because you can spend a lifetime working on it.

But a couple of days ago my dear friend Robyn sent me this little 2015 packet. It had postcards encouraging me to make 2015 a year of hospitality. To spread the love, so to speak, through a variety of little missions of kindness. The very first card asked me to name two additional resolutions for 2015 (besides being more hospitable).


And so, here I was confronted with the question of what I should resolve to do for 2015. And the rest of my life, really. I knew I already had an itch, something that bothered me: confidence. Especially this last semester when I struggled so much to get through each week. I felt like the confidence my abilities plummeted. Somehow I knew I was capable, but I felt useless. My friends have this odd impression of how I work that is far more pleasant than my actual work process. I don’t really glide through the finish line, it’s always a clumsy stumble or I’ve desperately inched myself across. I know that’s not always the case, but that’s how it feels to me. I have this vivid image of what I want to have accomplished and if I haven’t, I’ve failed.

So, my goal for 2015 is to be more confident. I realize now that goal is too vague. That’s why I haven’t really been able to do it. I need ‘confidence metrics.’ What does it mean to be more confident? What are confident actions? I have this professor I admire and she’s friendly but direct. She’s comfortable with her actions and thoughts. She’s contentedly confident and it’s so intriguing to me. I want to be more steadfast myself.

I went to this amazing talk at Interaction15 this week and the last speaker, Mike Monteiro (a symbol of confidence) gave his talk on the 13 ways a designer screws up a presentationalthough I have the link, you should wait until the video comes out because he’s an ahhhhmazing speaker. One of the most important takeaways I got from his lecture was that confidence isn’t for you, it’s for your client. Or anyone else if you don’t work with clients. It’s to reassure them that you’re the best person for the job, that they hired you for a reason. They have a problem and you’re going to fix it. If you are confident, they will feel that and feel better about their decision for you to help them. They are vulnerable. There is something outside of their expertise that they don’t know how to fix and they can only hope that you’ll help them. Because you are the expert. It really turned confidence on its head for me. I never thought of how it might affect the people working with. Although I have gotten feedback that my teammates have wished I was more confident…

Here’s what I propose to do:

  • Ask for the things I want. I usually keep my mouth shut because I think I’m being polite. I don’t even know if being polite. For some reason I think I’m being more polite because I’m invisible. I think of the times that people ask me for things and I don’t mind one iota. I think the same goes both ways. James Victore gave us this speech when we were doing a workshop and the punchline was: Just ask. Just ask for what you want because maybe you’ll get it. In fact, usually you will. This could be a minor thing like sharing supplies or even getting paid the amount I think I deserve.
  • Don’t apologize. I seem to always apologize for not having done enough. Ask Mike said, what ever you did is exactly what you were supposed to do. If I haven’t harmed anyone there is no need to apologize.
  • Take a compliment…Instead of fighting it. Someone is trying to give you something even if you’re refusing it (and even if they’re wrong ;) ). It seems dishonest to let people think I work more effortlessly than I do, but I guess it makes people happy.
  • Volunteer in class at least once a week. To be fair, I often feel like I can’t think of anything fast enough, but I’ll try. I know what a difference it makes to the professor.
  • Answer emails in 15 minutes without fretting. I’m definitely fret over what I should and shouldn’t say longer than I should. I edit an email 10 times before sending it (for content, not grammar. It’s still always filled with typos). They are just people and I should respond as confidently to people I’m working with as I do with my students.
  • Talk louder when I’m teaching. The more confident I project myself as a teacher, the happier they will be to be my student. I feel like I’m yelling in class already, but I think I could be more audible.
  • Use less words when you’re giving feedback. Get to the point sooner. They want your help. I think I hedge my answers too much like I have something to prove. Instead of letting my first answers sit and grow, I expand on them to death and the more I talk the messier it gets. Just say what you think and stop. Related: don’t use any qualifiers in my sentences (may, might, a little, kinda, “I think,” “I feel like,” etc). Mean what you say.
  • Say at least one positive thing about your work. Let’s be real, Jacklynn, not everything is the worst.

Remember: confidence is for them.

Your Turn:
  1. Sarah Varca says:

    You can do it! Thank you for inspiring me to stop feeling sorry myself in this moment and go get the things I want. Like some hummus…. ;)

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