By: Natsuko Tohyama
Is it difficult for you to accept a less than perfect outcome? The last time you faced constructive criticism, were you grateful for the opportunity to grow, or did you immediately rack your brain for a defense? Do you set realistic goals for yourself, and then do your utmost to meet them?
Do you believe in yourself?
Most career counseling professionals would not hesitate to assert that career self-confidence has very direct links to career satisfaction and progression. The reason is obvious: If you believe that you can do something, you are more likely to try. The more you try, the more likely you are to succeed and gain even more self-efficacy. It is a self-perpetuating upward cycle!
To get onto this happy cycle in the first place, we need to answer the question: What exactly is career self-confidence, anyway? Perhaps this is best explored by considering what self-confidence is not.
- Career self-confidence is not arrogance. It is not an overconfidence in your abilities that leads you to take on more projects than you could possibly handle. The self-confident professional does not hog credit for work that was completed with the help of other team members.
- Career self-confidence is not blindness. It is not about only seeing the best sides of yourself and ignoring the areas that need more development. Neither does it result in distorted self-perception, whether negative or positive.
- Career self-confidence is not fear – of failure or the unknown. It is not procrastination in bringing to life your genuine career dreams because you are afraid of rejection or not being perfect.
- Career self-confidence is not about controlling everything and everybody. It is not about expecting catastrophes or needing to have things your way just because.
- Career self-confidence is not blame. It is not about beating yourself up over the past or blaming the way your career turned out on others.
- Career self-confidence is not cut-throat competitiveness. There is no place for comparison with others, jealousy and resentment, or back-stabbing in the confidence-infused workplace.
Now that we’ve established what career self-confidence is not, it is easy to understand what it is.
The self-confident professional is humble. Because they take time to feel pride in their achievements and reward themselves, they are fulfilled and have the energy to push forward. Having readily acknowledged their own weaknesses and taken the time for self-development, they would never criticize or belittle others for their shortcomings.
Similarly, the self-confident professional learns from their mistakes so that failures, with time, become success stories in their minds. Recognizing that no human is perfect, the self-confident professional willingly takes responsibility to correct their errors rather than pointing their finger at others.
Humility allows the self-confident professional to take intelligent risks. Whether based on systematic calculation or gut-feel, the self-confident professional is not afraid to try new pathways so that they can advance their career, learn something novel, or simply gain enjoyment. The self-confident professional is also honest – especially to themselves. They do not shy away from hard work or discomfort but give 100% toward making their career dreams come true.
The self-confident person likes themselves for themselves. There will always be professionals who are perceived as more intelligent or more gifted, better connected or better paid. The self-confident person does not waste precious energy or time on the utterly futile task of trying to be somebody they are not. Thus, the self-confident professional possesses the emotional space to delight in the success of others and support them along their career journeys.
The self-confident leader does not need – or even want – to have things their way. They are able to let go to a realistic extent, to trust their team members and the process. They are great listeners, who value the opinions and expertise of others.
Most of all, the self-confident professional wears inside a genuine happiness that cannot be quantified in terms of the dollar amount, number of awards or certificates, or job title.
Simply put, career self-confidence is about believing in yourself.
You can see that, put in action, career self-confidence is a powerful mental state that can determine the quality of your career pathway. Developing lasting career self-confidence can be likened to running a marathon rather than completing a 100-meter sprint; it takes a small amount of effort every day. First of all, identify your strengths and weaknesses and embrace both. Remember to say “thank you” to others and even to yourself. Take some time every few months to reflect on your career goals and where you are in terms of reaching them. When you suspect that fear is holding you back from stepping forward, remind yourself that you can do it!
Easy, right? But try doing the above every day for the next year. I promise you that in time, you will see an impact on your career and work performance.