Confidence: What Every Career Professional Needs to Succeed
As a business owner, I had periods of time where I experienced “impostor syndrome.” That is when you feel like you have no clue what you’re doing and you worry someone will figure it out! And apparently, it’s more common amongst women. It really epitomizes, for me, what lack of self-confidence feels like. Over the years, I came to internalize the belief that confidence is what every career professional needs to succeed.
If you genuinely don’t know what you’re doing, obviously training is the answer, but if you actually do know what you’re doing, there’s no real issue; it’s all a matter of confidence.
Here are three tactics that I have used to grow my self confidence:
1. Take the First Step!
This famous Chinese proverb, quoted by Lao Tzu in the Dao De Jing, says it all: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Whether the steps are training, networking, reading, or a physical step, you don’t need to do everything in one day, nor do you have to be fully prepared to just start!
I value knowledge above all. For many years, I took every online training I could find; in cover letters, interviewing, recruitment, LinkedIn, résumé strategy and design — you name it. And, I took many related trainings, generally free online webinars, in human behaviour as well as business-building. And finally, I read countless leadership and career-related books.
2. Get Over Your Ego!
Sometimes it’s been a fear of failure and the potential judgement from others that stopped me (when I was younger). Today I am more likely to determine if it’s right for me by “checking in” with myself. And if it feels right, I go for it!
And on those few occasions where I was in over my head, I sought out help. Personal counselling, professional or business coaching — help exists and I definitely found suitable professional and personal growth partners.
I am no longer steered by my ego, which really hates looking small, seeming foolish, or facing critical eyes or judgemental words. I can face that easily now, because I know that I’m brave enough to give it a try, and I well know my capabilities to learn, apply, grow, and “feel the fear and do it anyway“!
3. Control the Controllable!
You can’t control it all; heck, you can’t even control most of it! But you can control you. You can manage your own thoughts and attitude, and the actions you take or don’t take. A lot of life is about curating — selecting what matters and helps, and deselecting/editing/deleting what doesn’t serve you.
Once painfully shy, lacking self-confidence to a draining degree, and suffering from debilitating social anxiety, I overcame all that to open my own business! I ran New Leaf Resumes for almost 15 years, and in this business I learned to speak with clients — even those who forced me into extremely uncomfortable-to-me, potentially confrontational conversations. I also learned to not only conduct public speaking, but to love speaking to large groups. It’s now a favourite activity.
These activities informed my personal growth. I’m so much more mature, self assured, and resilient than I ever was. Why? Because I put one foot in front of the other, I got over my fear and did it anyways, and I got out of my own way, i.e., set my ego aside, to learn and grow emotionally. In short, I learned that I could depend on myself – on just me – to solve problems, handle criticism, and learn and apply new things.
Every once in a blue moon, I get a slight case of butterflies or feel some jitters when needing to step outside my now broad – but not all-encompassing – comfort zone. But it’s okay. I know that I can handle lots of scenarios and, if I cannot, I can reach out for help. It’s truly all okay.
As for the impostor syndrome, it vanished and I’m now quite comfortable to accept that I can own my role as a well-respected career professional.
Stephanie Clark has earned her rank among North America’s top résumé services. Enhancing her innate talent for the written word with training in business communications, Stephanie was recognized in 2015 as a Master Certified Résumé Strategist by Career Professionals of Canada, as well as a Master Resume Writer, conferred by Career Thought Leaders (US). Stephanie’s skill at capturing and communicating each client’s distinctiveness has revitalized more than 1500 job searches since 2007. You can find her work published in Best Canadian Résumés and Best Canadian Cover Letters, Modernize Your Resume, and Expert Resumes & LinkedIn Profiles for Managers and Executives. Stephanie retired in 2020.