This month I am writing about confidence. I was intending to look at imposter syndrome, and ways we can increase our confidence, or feel more confident about ourselves…. Then yesterday I realised that we need to flip the conversation on its head. Rather than looking at how we can be more confident the question really has to be:

Why would we NOT have confidence?

I am sure you immediately have some answers for me. All the reasons why your confidence is low or you are reluctant to feel confident in yourself and the work that you do. That is because our expectations of ourselves are often set way too high, and are far higher than our expectations of others. Let’s look at what working for a living or having your own business actually means….

You have chosen your career or business idea. You are an accountant or a teacher or a photographer or a dressmaker. That is the arena in which you have chosen to take up space. You have walked into that arena and claimed your place – you are now standing with all of the others who have also chosen that path.

Somewhere in that arena are the experts. The people who were born with a natural talent for this work. The people who have been doing it for a very long time and seem to know every angle, every crucial bit of information. The people who are making a great deal of money in this business. However you define an expert, they are somewhere in the arena with you.

This is where we usually come unstuck. You might be one of those experts, but for most of us that probably isn’t the case. Knowing that isn’t the case, we find it hard to feel confident. “Look at those people. They are the experts. Who am I to try to take up space in this arena when I’m not one of them? How can I feel confident in what I do?”

Imagine a world in which the only people who had the right to dance were prima ballerinas. Where the only people allowed to make a living were the billionaires. Where the only people allowed to cook were master chefs. Where the only way you could drive was if you could compete in a Grand Prix.

It would be a sad and boring world. It would be an impractical and unworkable world. We all have the right to dance and swim and run and drive even if we are not at Olympic standard. We all have the right to cook and eat and enjoy our food even if we are not Gordon Ramsey.

And you have the right to make a living using your skills, your talents and your passions.

Why NOT have confidence?

Do you enjoy what you do? Have you a qualification in your chosen career? Do you have experience of the arena in which you are working? Do you have a passion for your job? Do you have knowledge that not everyone else has? Do you do your best for your clients, trying to provide them with the best service you can, and rectifying mistakes when you make them?

Then why NOT have confidence?

Look at the feedback you have had from your clients. If you do not gather feedback I strongly advise you to start – because even negative feedback can boost our confidence. Positive feedback makes us feel great, negative feedback gives us clarity on what we need to improve. It is only a lack of feedback that makes us feel uncertain with no knowledge of what we are doing well and what we need to change.

Gather feedback. Read it. See how you have made a difference, simply by being you. With the natural talents, learned skills, information and passions you possess. You have every right to take up space in your chosen arena. Stand proudly in your place and tell people what you do and why. We all have the right to make a living, and confidence is not just for billionaires.

Why NOT have confidence?

Get out there and shine.

Helen Calvert, March 2020