The confidence-con-conundrum: i.e. 'Wow. everyone else isn't that smart' or 'I'm so awesome now'

"I can't believe I get to make the decisions that they let me make. Its scaring me"
Five years ago, a friend who'd just taken on a new role - a pretty great role - said this to me with nervous excitement as we finished catching up. Remarkably, another friend had said something similar to me at work a week before.

Then today morning I read this great post by Anne Toth, which reminded me of what I'd said to both of them then. Now I believe confidence in appropriate amounts is a good thing - it helps you perform at your best - eliminating unnecessary doubts and allowing you to truly focus.

But not everyone has it

  • particularly in unfamiliar situations
  • and especially if you're a certain personality type

If you do have such a problem, and I did especially when I was younger,  I found that there's two things one can tell oneself (i.e. pull the confidence-con) to convince yourself that you are in actuality good enough - good enough to compete; to excel;  to take on the responsibility being offered to you.

The conundrum is which con to use. At different times, depending on the situation and where my head was, I've found the following two tricks useful to get yourself the confidence boost you may need.

  • "Wow. Everyone else isn't that smart": Look at your peers. Then look at yourself. If you impress yourself more, you're done.
    There's no shortage of people on the planet that are either unmotivated or incompetent (or at least that you think are one or both of.) If its not you stepping up, it'll be those nincompoops. You're at least as good, or can work as hard, right?
  • "I'm so awesome now": Clearly something got you to the point where you're getting this opportunity in front of you. You don't see it yet, but obviously at some point you got pretty awesome.
    This one gets easier to believe over time as you pick up a few wins.

So I told both my friends this, and one of them told me a few months later that it did actually help him. I don't remember mentioning this to anyone since, and don't remember needing to use this in the recent past, but if you're ever feeling a confidence crisis coming, give the confidence-con-conundrum a shot.  :-)


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