Being Confident is a Better Strategy Than Being Scared

In the proliferation of career and job search advice these days, the importance of building confidence and exuding positive energy seems to be underplayed. It seems everywhere you look the majority of advice content is all about the negative, served up as scare tactics to chip away at our self esteem. Here’s a sampling of headlines:

5 phrases that make you look ridiculous to your coworkers
8 biggest blunders on resumes
3 things that will kill a job interview fast
6 signs your boss doesn’t like you
4 signs you’re going to get fired

So, yes, this is probably pretty effective in figuring out all the things NOT to do, and what to be paranoid about. But this can put you in a defensive position. Why not be proactive and fill your mojo with positive things to focus your energy on instead to work toward being confident in the workplace?

We’ve been reading through a lot of articles and blog posts and have collected the best pieces of advice on building positivity, tossing in a bit of our own experience. Here’s the top 5 things you can work on to ensure your career approach is framed through a bright, positive lens – which also happens to be crucial if & when you engage in a job search!

  1. Exercise.
    This is the foundation for everything, for keeping your energy levels up, for keeping your body’s frame and brain processor in top working order. You gotta do something, no matter how small or how big. The smartest smart phone is just a shiny paperweight if the battery is dead. And the fastest engine isn’t going anywhere with a rusted out chassis and flat tires.
  1. Don’t let yourself be complacent.
    Try something beyond what you’ve already done. Push and test yourself. Pick up a guitar and learn 5 basic chords. Borrow your kid’s camera and go shoot a sunset. If you’re a runner, try cycling. If you’re a cyclist, get to a pool and swim laps. Learn how to do a Macro in a spreadsheet. We’re not talking learning rocket science or a complete new language. And you don’t even have to be good at whatever you try – the point is to TRY. It will expand your experiences and stretch your brain and muscles. And it builds resistance to being wary of trying anything new that comes along in your career.
  1. Celebrate other people.
    Everyone usually always has something valuable to offer – if you look deep enough and with an open mind. Find it and call it out. Confident people don’t have to fight for credit for an idea, or fight to always prove they’re right. Propping other people up with positive reinforcement works it’s magic all the way up the ladder. Dale Carnegie said “Be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.” Positive energy is contagious.
  1. Own your weaknesses, in addition to owning your strengths.
    This is not easy. Who wants to talk about what they’re not good at? Or how they’ve failed? Accomplishments are so much more fun to talk about (short of being a braggart, because no one likes that). And we are inundated with lists and stats and “record highs” through sports, the stock market, and even the Guinness Book of World Records, all pushing us to compete and exploit our strengths. And that is all super productive, but owning your weaknesses is also a strength, and actually makes us stronger. Look at all the top major league pitchers. Almost without exception they are amazing at their pitching craft, but terrible at batting. But that’s ok! They get in and get the job done for what they were hired to do. And good coaches know how best to adjust for this weakness to win games.
  2. Derive your happiness from within.
    This is also not easy. It’s not like buying a new suit. (although, that will give you a little boost in “looking good”) It takes time and discipline and training to build these “muscles”. Just like training for a marathon. But what is constructed with meticulous care on the inside, in your head and in your heart, will be expressed with strong, calm confidence on the outside. Make the investment!