For those of you who know me, I’m sure this is not something you would EVER have thought I would say.
Surprisingly enough, I’ve just come to realise I spend a huge amount of my time in that particular space. Now, how’s that for a bombshell!
Let me explain in a little more detail. You see, I’m a continual learner. In the business space, I like to learn from people who are not in my industry, to bring a different perspective to my training and conversation. In relation to my health and wellbeing, I change it up.
The thing about learning new things is you have to start at the bottom. You are uncomfortable. For the majority of the time, you feel like a twit because rarely do you get it the first time. It’s called learning!
Creating those neural pathways to a different skill is frustrating, exhausting and everything in between. It takes time and practice to understand and achieve what you want to learn. So while it’s happening, it’s ok to be a bit wobbly, lack confidence and beware as it’s more than likely your internal conversation will not be too healthy.
Let me give you a couple of examples:
- Exercise – Last year I decided I wanted to get out of the gym and start training for Obstacle Courses. Making that decision on the other side of 55 was pretty out there, even for me! I have totally forgotten how to do the things that kids do naturally – the monkey bars, sprinting up, over and under things and the flexibility and strength needed to do – well everything! How do you think I feel when the troops I train with (who are 20-30 years younger than me) lap me? Luckily they’re a great bunch and tend to say “Good job Glen – keep it going” as they sprint past. Oh and it’s soooo easy to be unkind to myself during and straight after a session, I wonder what on earth I’m doing there and why on earth I ever thought it was a good idea to take on this challenge. How high do you think my confidence level is during training sessions? Pretty damn low, I can tell you.
- Speaking – Learning to speak in front of a camera to be precise. Now I am someone who can literally talk underwater and I’ve been running training sessions for as long as I can remember. But put me in front of a camera and I felt like a rabbit in the headlights! My usual calm and cheerful manner totally deserted me. I’d look back on the video clips and be so critical of myself. If I said out loud what I was thinking – people would call me a Bully. How high do you think my confidence level was when I was learning?
- Applying for a new job – This is one I discuss regularly and women are particularly poor at it. When a position is advertised they expect to tick all the requirements boxes before even considering to apply for the job and then are disappointed when the role goes to someone less qualified who dared to throw their hat in the ring. Companies don’t expect you to fill ALL the requirements, they’re looking for the right fit and the best person for the role. They want someone who can grow into the job and bring new experiences. Skills can be learned. If you can tick ALL the boxes, then you need to be looking at a different position, something more challenging. We also expect to hit the ground running in this new position and are tough on ourselves about not ‘getting it’ immediately. The top executives I’ve spoken to do not expect any new employee to be fully integrated into their position for three, six or even 12 months depending on what the role entails. My biggest suggestion here – if the job advertised rings your bell and you have a few of the requirements, then go for it. Understand there will be a learning curve and it’s natural to have a low confidence level in the early days.
I could go on and on, but I’m sure you get my drift.
Low self-confidence isn’t always a bad thing. If you’re a constant learner – you begin to understand it’s ok to feel like that as you tackle the unknown. Putting a strategy in place to manage those feelings during the learning process is a very important part of learning, growing and mental health.
For me, I always jokingly say, “The great thing about being so bad in the beginning, is the only way is up“. And as I become better at one thing, I have a go at another – as the bruises on my knees will attest to my learning how to climb over a wall multiple times yesterday. However, I am very certain the next time I go over that wall, I’ll be a little better than last time.
Whether it’s a new job, learning to play an instrument, speaking or the millions of other things out there in the world to learn – know this – it’s absolutely OK to have low self-confidence while you’re learning. Just make sure you don’t get stuck. Keep moving forward and the confidence will come.
Keep learning. Step firmly out of your comfort zone into the low confidence arena and you will benefit immensely.