Many of us have a hard time with confidence. Confidence in ourselves and our abilities. And confidence in our work. But we want it and we strive for it because there's just something about a confident person that exudes success. It makes us more attractive. More appealing as an employee or a business partner or as a spouse.
When it comes to our work, confidence in ourselves can help us break out of our comfort zones. It can help us stop playing it safe and do things we wouldn't normally do. But we also need to have confidence in our work or in the thing we're selling. And we must back it up with a reason for that confidence.
Some occupations require precision. If the job isn't done right, you could get fired. Failure could even result in injury or be life-threatening. Working unsafely near machinery could result in injury or death.
Other people could also be put at risk if the job isn't done right. If a brain surgeon fails while performing a surgery, the patient could die. If an airline pilot fails at landing the plane, it could crash resulting in injury and even death of everyone on the flight. Failing to correct a problem in flight, being unable to lessen the impact of a crash, or failing to remain calm and levelheaded during an emergency could mean total loss, no survivors. I know that sounds extreme, but it could happen.
The Perfect Storm is a good example of occupational risk. It is the biographical disaster drama film about the Andrea Gail, the commercial fishing vessel that sunk in 1991. No one knows what really happened, but in the movie, the captain and crewmembers acted out of poor judgment, driven by the need to perform well after a crummy fishing season. There was the risk of the captain losing his ship and the crewmembers moving to other profitable boats. Unfortunately, the ship sunk and everyone on board were presumed dead.
And then there is too much confidence. Having too much confidence can get people killed as well. Think of the Titanic, the unsinkable ship. The ship builders felt so confident about the integrity of their ship with its newly-designed watertight compartments that they evidently overlooked the construction and materials used at the front of the ship. But imagine how much confidence the people must have had in this ship. The luxury vessel on its maiden voyage to America…
If you work in an occupation that puts yourself or others at risk, having confidence in your work is a good thing. But only on one condition – you know your stuff like the back of your hand or be open to being corrected. Confidence here without the willingness to take into consideration someone's warnings or thoughts could result in bad judgment. When confidence is combined with poor judgment or an elevated view of our skills, abilities, or knowledge, it can get us into trouble. And when we act out of need (rather than good judgment), we're more likely to take risks we probably shouldn't take.
For the rest of us, those who aren't dealing with life or death situations, confidence is a good thing, too. But again, it needs to be backed by belief, knowledge, or experience. In order to have confidence in ourselves and in our work, we must believe that we can offer something valuable to others. That the product or service we're selling can help others solve an issue and that we are the ones to help. If we don't believe in those things, we'll have a hard time turning the work into success.