Why undervaluing your achievements saps your confidence
‘It was nothing, anyone could have done it’.
Ever wondered why you’ve been promoted, got a great new job or been asked to work on that brilliant project?
I have. I’ve struggled with confidence my whole life; I could never believe that I was capable of the things others saw in me. In fact I once talked myself out of a brilliant job with a major consulting firm by telling the interviewer that I couldn’t believe they were even considering little old me for the role. I had the job in the bag until I dropped that bombshell.
Not everyone is as outspoken (stupid?) as I was, but many women in the workplace (and some men) seem baffled by their own successes, and deep down, don’t feel that they deserve to be where they are. If you ever feel that way, read on.
When we’re successful we sometimes think that if we did it surely anyone could have done the same? Not so. Most people did not do it. Most people do not pass difficult exams over and over again. Not everyone does a great job, day in and day out; many people just do enough to get by.
You on the other hand did pass your exams and are doing a great job. So why do you belittle what you achieved? Why aren’t you proud of yourself? (I’m not talking about arrogance here – you can be proud of what you’ve done without seeming cocky or overbearing). The fact is that awareness of and pride in your own achievements can be the starting point for building confidence and having a great career.
Our accomplishments and achievements are what psychologists call ‘mastery experiences’, knowing we have done things well in the past increases our belief that we will be able to do similar things well in the future and that increases confidence.
Knowing that we have done things well, and acknowledging the achievement are of course two different things, and for many people recognising success is at odds with our desire to seem modest. However we often take modesty too far; there really is nothing wrong with quietly knowing how good we are.
So the next time your boss compliments you on a job well done, instead of shrugging and saying ‘anyone could have done that’ or ‘oh it was nothing’, smile, say thank you and remember that it was you who actually got on and did it! And when you need a confidence boost draw on those memories of jobs well done and past successes to help you cope with new challenges.