I had been working in the library for a few months when my first review came up. That means that your manager scratches three illegible sentences on a piece of paper and asks you to sign it, whether or not you agree with his or her assessment.
I seriously could not read the writing, so I asked her to read it to me. She thought I was joking. I was not joking, and so she sighed, re-sighed louder just to make sure I knew she was annoyed, and read:
“Josh exudes quiet confidence and grace. He is very good at making people feel at ease.” Then she started squinting because she couldn’t read the rest of it herself, the writing was that bad.
I signed the paper without agreeing with it. If I had written my own assessment it would have said: “Josh is a big loud ox. He is the opposite of graceful, but he tries hard and doesn’t seem to care at all when he screws things up. He loves working in a library. I do not expect this to change. He is less sure of himself than he pretends, however. The end.”
I remembered that odd little experience because the concept of confidence, confidence training, improvement, or whatever you want to call it, is fascinating to me.
It’s fascinating because you can think someone is confident when they aren’t. You can even think you are confident without it being entirely true. I am. I am always confident when I am moving fast. I am rarely so sure of myself when I slow down and face things. So I keep moving.
I do think improving confidence is possible, but I think it can be tricky to define confidence to begin with. Does it mean that you always know you’re right? That you made the right choice? That the good results in your past have convinced you that you’re walking a path worth being on?
Once you have your definition, how do you improve your own confidence?
I had a friend who was extremely quiet. Everyone assumed he was shy. He wasn’t. We would laugh after parties sometimes at how many people told him he needed to quit being so shy.
“Why would they think that telling someone not to be shy could have any positive effect on a shy person?”
I feel the same way about confidence. Saying “Be more confident” doesn’t really do it. So how does a person lacking in self-confidence get more?
I wrote a post about how to be more confident that is currently my fourth-most-viewed post, but it wasn’t really about how to be more confident. It was about how to look more confident, in the hopes that it will eventually happen.
What do you think? How do we do it? Oh, and what is quiet confidence, anyway?
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