I was sitting down with a coaching client not too long ago. Starting our conversation with “What would you like to get out of this conversation?” she responded that she would like to figure out what she wanted to become next. Exploring what she tried in the past, her strength, and actions she casually shared with me that “I always wanted to become a novelist … “. Sharing this, she smiled, which was immediately followed by a lough, and a sigh after which she added: ” … but I can’t, because I am too old and I need the money from my job … I don’t think I’m good enough since I haven’t been writing much since colleague … [and] nobody would read my stuff anyway.” As we continued our conversation, we discovered that her issue wasn’t a lack of clarity regarding who she wanted to become next, but that she lacked trust in her abilities and that it would work out. In other words, she lacked confidence.
We often expect ourselves to change and be good at things overnight. I see it every time I’m thinking about trying something new. I intuitively know that I can’t perform at the aspired level, so I don’t engage at all, and instead distract myself studying and learning more which usually only makes me feel less confident in the process. This is because confidence does not come from studying or knowing. If anything, the Dunning-Kruger Effect shows us that we are the most confident when we don’t know anything. Trust in self, and therefore confidence, stems largely from us, experiencing ourselves performing a task and getting better at achieving the desired result.
I guess we all know this, intuitively. We all picked up a skill like riding a bike, snowboarding, cooking, or skiing at some point in our lives. None of us would have announced “I am a cyclist! I am a skier! Or I’m a chef” after watching a couple of other people do it or reading about it. We intuitively knew we had to practice, we had to try, and learn with every iteration. We knew we had to fall a couple of times before we could confidently master challenging terrains, slopes, a sauce hollandaise, or challenge our friends. Yet, when it comes to career and life transition we sometimes seem to forget that we have to develop our trust in ourselves, and thus our confidence step-by-step. It does not come overnight.
Thus in addition to ask “what do I need to know” we could start to ask ourselves:
What experiences would help me to trust myself?
In case you wonder, the person I worked with started writing longer emails to family and friends she trusted. She eventually became confident enough to create a blog and share it beyond her inner circle. Even though her friends and family encourage her to “write more” and “finally draft her book proposal” she tells me that she is still not trusting herself 100%. She currently works on finding an idea for a book she trusts, sharing one “teaser story” at a time.