Last week, I talked a little about the importance of skills and building confidence to get ahead. Today, I’m delving a little deeper into what really is confidence? Believe it or not, but the Brash Librarian was once scared, insecure, and not-so-brash. With some guidance, trial and error, and just dumb luck, I picked up a few good lessons that I hope to impart and make your journey a little easier.
Let’s jump into a few notes about confidence. Sure, you’ve probably heard a few similar things before, but isn’t nice to know you’re on the right track?
Learn to discern those who are cocky and those who are confident.
The sooner you can learn to sniff this out of people, the better. When I was younger, I was often called cocky by some, and confident by others. Like a stubborn young adult, I often argued about them about which one I really was. One day, a friend (now an old mentor) taught me the easiest way to tell the difference in others – and ourselves.
“A cocky attitudes comes from outside factors. The clothes you wear, the kind of car you drive, your looks, how much money you have – all things that can affect you, but are NOT you…the things that make you cocky can be taken away.
Confidence comes from obtaining skills, experiences, and learning from life lessons. Life lessons and skills can never be taken from you, they dwell inside you always and give you strength, no matter what has been taken from you.
Cockiness comes from the outside – confidence comes from within.”
Competence builds confidence.
Once you find those confident and competent around you, stick with them. Learn from them and start obtaining their skills. Do you get better at chess by playing with novices, or by playing with experts?
“Eh, I don’t know. I don’t really want them knowing what I can’t do or don’t know”.
I too have felt this way before! Firstly, that’s a cocky response so pitch that out the window. Secondly, you’re not expected know everything when you first arrive. As I’ve said in a previous post, you don’t know even where the bathroom is on day one – they’re not expecting perfection. Since they’re not expecting perfection, it’s time to start learning from them!
Learn their style of Kung Fu.
I don’t actually mean real Kung Fu, but learning how they do things. Even if you know how to do something, make sure you know how they want it done. When I take a new job and they ask:
“Are you familiar with [program/equipment/procedure]?”
Regardless of whether I know it or not, I’ll always answer the same way:
“Let’s pretend I have no idea, I want to start with a clean slate and make sure I do it the way your library does it.”
If I knew it, then I just have to worry about the details. If it’s something I don’t know, then it’s a slightly longer learning curve. In other words, you can learn from them without ever having to confirm what you do or don’t know. It’s good to have a little air of mystery, eh?
(If you find an actual Kung Fu library position, please let me know because that sounds amazing.)
There is great confidence in saying, “I don’t know”.
Yes, I know I just gave you great verbal sorcery to tap dance through most things, but there are some you get a free pass on…some skills you either really really really know, or the opposite. If you’ve never used their library software or some specialty gadget before, it’s okay to say “I don’t know, I’ve never used that before”. Think of the two options you have in this scenario:
- Say, “I don’t know”, and let them help you learn how to operate said software/gadget.
- Say yes, screw up the task at hand, admit you don’t know, start over with their help, and make them wonder what else you’ll claim to know.
Confidence isn’t just about self-confidence.
Confidence is a two-way street. You need to be able to inspire confidence others, along with putting confidence in those same people. Just like anything worthwhile, building confidence in yourself (or others) ain’t done over a cup of tea. This is why you learn from those competent mentors or coworkers early on!
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither were you.
Building that confidence in others takes time. People need to see you in action so they can say, “man, that person’s good” and ask you for help with their next project. This is where having multiple skills comes in handy. If you come across something that you know you’re going to struggle with, it’s okay to call for back-up on a project.
The truly confident know when to ask for help.
I’m fairly confident in most of my abilities. However, I know I have limits. Whether it’s a question of my skill set, how much time I have to do it, or who has access to more resources, I have a pretty good idea of who can do a better job than me. Why go reinvent the wheel if you have somebody on staff who can crank out 20 wheels in an hour?
Doing good? Feeling more confident?
“Nope, I didn’t learn anything.”
Well then, fine. I’ll buy you drinks when I get to the American Library Association this June in Orlando.
Oh, did I mention I’m going to ALA, the biggest library conference of the year?
ALA is a big deal in the library world, but don’t worry! I’ll be covering that a few posts from now. In the meantime, start lining up those drinks, those of you learned nothing from this post.
Next time in Part 3:
Hopefully, I’ve gotten the gloves on you – next comes the actual training. I’m going to dive into some of my more secret skills and techniques that can help you climb the ladder, nail that job, or increase your overall confidence! In the meantime, you can comment here or connect with me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and share your stories. What makes you confident? How do you gain confidence?
Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian