Asking My Mentor About… Self-Confidence
July was the second installment of Christine and my monthly Peer-to-Peer Mentoring series. On her blog, I answered her question: Along my career path, I travel wearing many hats. From a writer and designer’s perspective, what tools do you use to portray career evolution to your audience? More specifically, how do you keep your bio updated to portray the ever-evolving you so it represents your business as extension of yourself rather than a mere list of accomplishments?
My Question to My Mentor:
Do you have difficulty feeling confident about the work you do and the value it adds? If so, how does it manifest itself? And do you have any tools you use to boost your confidence when you feel it faltering?
For starters, I’ve never felt like I fit into the status quo. Not at school as a kid, not at other jobs etc. Now I can look back to see this was an opportunity I’ve been able to grow exponentially from. Not fitting in raises questions early on, “why am I not like the others?” “don’t they like me?” “what should I be doing to fit in?” Turns out when I pushed and pulled to fit myself into the confines of spaces I wasn’t shaped for, it felt uncomfortable. And, when I did at times wedge myself into spaces I didn’t fit, turned out a lot of the other people in there, weren’t so happy either. So, I decided, (sub-consciously perhaps), early on to be a shaper. It was a risk I had to take because the other reality wasn’t working for me.
At the beginning of my career, deciding to pursue integrative medicine was a risk. I knew I’d be judged and questioned. So many people said, “just go get your MD license and then do whatever you want.” But, that wasn‘t the point, it didn‘t feel right so I went ahead to reach for what was most palpable to me. This added value to my work because it helped shape what I do now. If I hadn’t taken that risk, I may not have been able to help teach doctors, to act as an advocate for patients, be so bold with my writing or help build confidence in other businesses to take risks.
I know you’re not asking for a self-esteem boost, you can easily read about how to accomplish that in any self-help book. But, as I’ve mentioned in earlier relationship building discussions, self-actualization and creating reality via our own self-truths is the stuff of confidence. For self-starters, not only does it boost our drive to produce quality work, it consoles us when the critics swoon in to feast on our new ideas or flavors. But, that’s what work is for designers, guides, teachers and taste-makers. It’s research, trial and error that we pursue tenaciously for the sake of helping others.
A lot of what we do involves risk. Amidst the busy info-culture we live where everything is judged at the mere click of a thumbs up, a yelp or the comments section, it’s valuable to consider developing a more meditative system that allows you to soothe yourself mentally as you move forward. I like to meditate my way to continually building confidence. It’s a practice; like anything else that takes a little time to set in, but the personal and professional rewards of mindfulness are un-ending!
If confidence is faltering:
I like to remind myself that I’m a transformer, not a conformer. This forever engenders more growth and change. They might not know it yet, but your clients will be thankful because change and growth allows you to become flexible in appreciating their needs.
Remind yourself of your intentions. Know that your work, as an extension of you is being produced to help people. The value of your work is evidenced when your clients realize you’ve introduced them to something that until now they may not have thought was possible. You’re a designer. You’re introducing new ideas everyday. People will question your ideas, yet once they employ them, their lives and what they’re able to produce will be improved in some measurable way.
I believe the work I do helps people in an authentic way. This is a good one to keep in mind, very empowering-what I put forth confidently has value. In my consulting work, both in developing businesses and teaching health care providers, the ideas set forth are for the sake of putting a smile on humanity; helping people co-exist in better, happier ways. And, when the work is “getting done” it feels good to actually see it come to fruition in people’s lives. I guess seeing is believing with this one!
Know that despite your best efforts, not everyone will always jive with you, but still, they‘re your best efforts. In my private practice, sometimes patients come to me with wild expectations. They’ll be experiencing a chronic health concern which requires they enact a process of growth and change. Some people simply aren’t ready to hear this and because they’re un-willing to change and self-reflect, suddenly I’m the one who couldn’t or didn’t help them with their concerns. This kind of thing could really damage my confidence, yet knowing I approached the situation with compassion and diplomacy and that my intentions were all for the sake of healing adds value to the overall process.
Be nice to yourself and express gratitude!