With the move to Maryland and joining a new team, I have made it a point of late to reach out to some of the proteges with whom I now share geography. I have also incorporated guest posts on my blog from the same audience. In conversations with some of them, we speak of confidence and the fact that many juniors hold themselves back from offering opinions, being constructively critical, or writing/speaking publicly because they lack the confidence. I continue to tell them that the path to confidence is through doing and the path to clarity of purpose is through acting. It’s a lesson that I wished I had been willing to learn earlier in life. I say willing to learn, because I know my parents did their best to teach me this very lesson, but at the time I wasn’t ready to learn.
As time goes on, I make it a point to grow toward mastery of this very lesson. Want to know some of my secrets? I started this forum long before I had confidence in my writing ability; I offered recommendations to my seniors long before I had command of the problem I was attempting to help solve; and I lobbied for jobs for which I was not fully prepared. What’s not a secret is that my early blog posts were not very good, many of my recommendations up the chain weren’t on target, and I made plenty of mistakes as I grew into each job. The point is we ought not hold ourselves back, and we should encourage everyone to learn this life lesson as early as possible. I have grown fond of a quote to which I have been unable to find proper attribution – “Don’t compare someone else’s highlight reel to your behind-the-scenes bloopers.” I firmly believe that too many of us do just that. I know I do. The truth is, the more content with which we are willing to fill our blooper reel, the better the highlight reel becomes. Now, if your blooper reel is your highlight reel we may have problems, but I digress. When our juniors see us make mistakes, share missteps, and demonstrate a personal commitment to “confidence through doing” or “clarity through action”, they are more likely to follow and we create a culture where all are committed to both learn and grow by, with, through each other. We’ll continue to learn from our bloopers, and the highlight reel will contain feats never before thought achievable.
Let’s not wait for confidence to do, and let’s not wait for clarity to act!