The Everyday Guide to Workplace Confidence: Work Hard & Yes, Feel a Little Entitled

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Confidence — one very tough customer.

If you’ve stood tentatively in front of an audience — or felt like an impostor after being praised or promoted — I would place a wager that those nagging feelings were rooted in your level of confidence (possibly a lack thereof).

When you consider confidence in the workplace, there are many platitudes, but few really ring true. How do you truly “believe” in yourself when faced with the moments that matter most? Those situations simply cannot be tackled by adages or quotes.

So…how do we really build confidence?

Well, I’ve stumbled upon one perspective that hit a nerve of truth (reading it stopped me cold).

I don’t often read magazines. Yet, when I visit the hair salon, I leave my phone at home and unplug. I thumb through Glamour, Vogue, Allure — and they all offer their own brand of career advice. One particular career column in Glamour was guest authored by Mindy Kaling. (She is not your traditional career writer. However, she has managed to accomplish career-wise what few have in her industry.)

Her thoughtful response to the following question (posed by a nervous young girl at a speaking engagement, which she admittedly got all wrong in the moment) is a game changer:

“How did you build your confidence?”

Her revised response was direct and unapologetic.

It went something like this (So sorry for the word choice, they were hers and would lose something with an edit):

Work very hard. Know your $hit. Show your $hit. Then feel entitled.

I absolutely agree that confidence is rooted in mastery.

In experiences. In owning what you bring to the table. Confidence comes from feelings of self-efficacy in a wide range of situations. It requires challenge, balanced exploration, failure, mentorship, guidance and exposure.

True confidence includes the notion that we are not entitled to rewards simply because we desire them. Rewards come with time and work. Confidence comes from putting forth concentrated effort.

  • It requires patience — and the belief that you can learn something from every person and every scenario.
  • It requires feedback and reflection.
  • It requires a hard look at our strengths and weaknesses.
  • It requires a deep sense that you can handle the problems (and people) that stand before you.

When you embrace these elements  — confidence is your entitlement.

  • Seek broad experiences and “challenge assignments”.
  • Develop a deep knowledge of your industry and its current experts.
  • Push yourself. Get up when you fall. Alter your course. Rebound.
  • Find a mentor who helps you recognize and invests in your talent.
  • Be aware of the competencies you may require ahead of the “disruption curve“.
  • Continue to learn.
  • Grow.

And then — yes — feel entitled to some measure of success.

Through all this, I suspect that confidence arrives unannounced — with little fanfare.

It takes hold and lives in your workplace soul and cannot be measured by the sum of your individual experiences.

It’s more akin to letting a gorgeous, glistening wave roll over you.

Thanks Mindy.

That clears things up.

What are your thoughts on building confidence? Share them.

Live.Work.Think.Play shares observations concerning a wide array of topics from running a company — to the perfect handbag. It is designed to share lessons learned from a variety of perspectives.

4 thoughts on “The Everyday Guide to Workplace Confidence: Work Hard & Yes, Feel a Little Entitled

  1. By learning, sharing, teaching others you build a confidence. Your attitude & level of acceptance, patience, compatibility flourishes the confidence. This short & sweet guide has helped me a lot. Thanks. Keep it up.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. i totally agree with mindy. But what stood out the most i think is about knowing your stuff. Thus, knowledge and skills are very much important in gaining and reflecting confidence. once u know ur stuff nothing else matters.

    Liked by 1 person

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