Inspiration from Mary Matalin:
Around the time I met my above colleague, I jotted the down the following advice from Mary Matalin:
My father used to remind me constantly that only one thing separates successful and unsuccessful people. It isn’t money or brains. It’s confidence. What creates confidence?
1. Being preparedOver the years I have referred to this advice often, especially when going through a rough patch. Here are examples of how I applied Matalin’s father’s advice to my work:
2. Having experience
3. Never giving up
I put in long days learning my job:
While working for the engineering company, one of the company's managers talked favorably about his energetic new hire. He was impressed with the young engineer’s habit of spending a couple of hours at the end of the work day learning everything he could about his job, even reviewing engineering textbooks. The manager felt this engineer was going to go far. After accepting my current position, I was overwhelmed with piles of paper and strict deadlines. I couldn’t help but think of that young engineer as I too spent many long days learning everything I could to prepare myself for my new position.
I gained experience by taking advantage of leadership opportunities:
I joined and became involved in a professional organization. Over my 14 year membership, I’ve held almost every board position including President. I placed cold calls, spoke in public, made decisions and received feedback that would not have been available to me in my job. By volunteering for these positions I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone and had the opportunity to develop leadership skills in a safe environment.
I didn’t give up when I initially did not pass the CPA exam:
Studying for and passing the CPA exam is probably the hardest, yet most important, thing I have ever done. When I did not pass the exam the first or second time I sat for it, it would have been easy to just give up. I was under quite a bit of pressure to pass though. I was still at the engineering company and many of the engineers had their P.E.’s plus my predecessor had been a CPA. So I persevered until I finally passed all four parts. Having earned that little piece of paper and those initials behind my name has given me more credibility, respect and confidence than anything else I’ve ever done.
Anyone who has ever been though a failed relationship can certainly appreciate the positive frame of mind that comes from being in a supportive relationship and can attest to a loss of confidence that comes from a relationship that does not work out. I firmly believe though my increase in confidence came more from being prepared, additional experience and not giving up than from being married.
Susan Marshall says it best when she wrote:
Increased confidence comes from true learning – getting the wrong answer and having someone who knows the right one explain it to you. Sharpening a skill creates energy and a desire to do more. Naturally, this requires commitment, patience, a great deal of practice and a willingness to persist when you encounter setbacks.
For more information on how to be more confident in your work please see this post on Alison Green’s blog Ask a Manager. Also, be sure to read the comments which include additional suggestions and a recommendation to read Larina Kase's book Anxious 9 to 5: How to Beat Worry, Stop Second-Guessing Yourself, and Work with Confidence.
Have you become more confident at work? If so, what has worked for you?