ALC English Journal November 2012

The Confidence to Go For It!

QUESTION: “My biggest problem is I lack the confidence to take on more responsibility at work. Now I’m watching less qualified people get promoted, and I’m jealous! Help!”

ANSWER: Watching other people get promoted into a job you believe you could do better can be a bitter experience. Do you really want to be promoted? According to neuroscience, human beings naturally compete for status, even when it’s meaningless. But if you really do want a promotion here’s my advice.

  • The Impostor Syndrome. Many perfectly normal people suffer from a shortage of confidence. The “Impostor Syndrome” refers to a tendency among successful professionals to believe that their successes are accidental and their achievements are due to luck.
  • Don’t Wait for Confidence. Fear of failure is the #1 reason people all over the world hesitate to accept new challenges. Taking on more responsibility at work carries the possibility of failure. But, confidence is not required – commitment is. Confidence is an unpredictable emotion, and not always desirable. In some situations it can be interpreted a lack of humility, and in extreme circumstances can seem like arrogance. Yuk!
  • Commitment Beats Confidence! Confidence implies that we are certain of success. But how can we possibly know for sure that we’ll be successful when we start something new? Commitment, on the other hand, is a promise that we make to do what is required to succeed, even though we may not currently know how to proceed.
  • Be Willing to Be Uncomfortable. Stretching outside of our comfort zone creates anxiety. Is being comfortable your #1 priority? If so, you probably won’t be willing to take risks to achieve your goals. What’s more important to you than your comfort? Be willing to be uncomfortable! Start by setting inspiring goals for your career, then make a plan of to achieve those goals. Make sure that you are excited enough about your future that you’re willing to take some risks to make it happen.
  • “Act As If”. Acting as if you already are the kind of person you want to be is a proven approach to becoming that kind of person. A popular way to say this is “Fake it ‘til you make it!”
  • Find a Coach. The “little voice in our heads” utters many negative messages. It’s often easier for other people to believe in us more than we believe in ourselves. Find someone who appreciates your gifts and is willing to encourage you. Meet with them regularly to discuss your goals and plans. And when your confidence falters ask them to remind you of how wonderful you are!

Being promoted isn’t the only sign of professional success. If you decide not to take on increased responsibility at work you might just end up working for a much less qualified person. But if you want a promotion don’t wait for confidence! Create your future through the power of your commitments.

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