Editorial: A note about confidence

( #Confidence, #Rant )

I was thinking about interactions I had over the last few weeks and a pattern I have been falling into: sitting in a circle and listening to friends or co-worker’s issues and offering advice. I get feedback from my social circle that I am “so confident.” This perceived confidence was all bullshit until recently and even now, it isn’t really confidence as a lack of confidence in everyone else.

I was never confident as a child – never trusted my own impulses. In fact, I spent several years of my life training myself not to follow my own instincts. One thing I always craved, produced, and excelled at was instituting order. I always needed to follow a plan or clear direction, it helped me to sleep at night. This served me well until I found myself repeatedly questioning the plans and methods of others. I noticed that other friends, teachers, co-workers, managers were just fucking winging it, and these ideas I silently kept to myself would have produced better outcomes. This my friends is not arrogance, it is the truth.

Having no confidence in yourself can produce several personalities traits, in my case I didn’t become sullen and quiet – I had enough self-hatred and well-bred Italian spite to force myself to learn. Learn what? Anything I needed to overcome that pit in my stomach because I didn’t know what to do. This involved reading, asking for advice (and learning what advice not to take), research, finding mentors, finding models to base examples from – and over the years, I have built up a decent database of experiences to draw from (either my own or through others). That internal spite and hatred was eventually unleashed at the people making my days longer and less productive. That doesn’t mean yelling and getting nuts, but I won’t lie to you – it definitely means letting people know in subtle ways that your time is being wasted.

So what does that have to do with confidence and what am I driving at? The only way to gain confidence is by action. That action might be reading a book (or building a bench), but it is a step in the direction you want to head in. Do you think the people setting direction and offering you advice are making efforts to better themselves and the decisions they make? How many people do you know at work are losing sleep over the bad, uninformed decisions they are making (unless they are about to lose their job)? The only way to avoid going down with the ship is to learn how to swim (and to know when to get off the damn boat).

PS – To keep with the swimming metaphor, learning to swim does not have anything to do with confidence, is it all about survival. There are way too many people drowning out there.

Sink or Swim.

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