It’s Crazy (and Almost Unfair) How Much This One Thing Affects Your Career Success

November 7, 2013

Know what’s even more crucial for your career success now that we’ve transitioned into the wonderful world of digital?

Not skills. Not experience. And not networking, although that’s pretty darn important, too.

What’s most important, especially in the online realm, is CONFIDENCE.

In the digital world, you are who you say you are. (Click to tweet this.) You accomplish what you say you accomplish. And how you present yourself is largely what determines how others see you.

Image: How you present yourself

Think, for a minute, about the big shots you follow online. Off the top of my head, I can come up with at least a handful — people whose names you’d probably recognize — who actually aren’t all that good at what they do. But here’s what they ARE good at: talking about what they do, and, subtly or sometimes not-so-subtly, talking about how good they are at what they do.

These people are good at being confident, which, crazy as it sounds, is sometimes more important than actually being good at what they do. Since they’re confident about how awesome they are, we believe they’re good at what they do, too.

The art of confidence

It’s frustrating in some ways, sure. But it’s also an important lesson. Even if what these cocky bastards online personalities have accomplished isn’t all that impressive, they NEVER refer to themselves as an aspiring writer or a wannabe entrepreneur. They tell the world through their blog, tweets and whatever else they create that they are exactly what they want to be.

In truth, other people we know probably have better skills and maybe even more accomplishments. But because these people talk about themselves with confidence, we see them as successful. And since we want to follow and learn from successful people, their platform grows. Before long, because of that platform, those people become more successful than our more skilled but less confident friends.

In other words, their confidence fuels their success.

Now, you might think confidence means arrogance, and in some cases, it does. It can also mean exaggerating achievements or even lying.

But if you do it right, it translates to giving yourself credit. It’s following through and then letting people know you did. It’s being a finisher and relaying those accomplishments strategically to whoever will listen (even if it’s just your mom at first).

And while how you talk about yourself is what the rest of us are most likely to notice, this also applies to how you execute. If you really want to accomplish big things in this new Project World, you’ve also got to execute with confidence.

That means creating without waiting for permission. It means having the guts to take a leap. It means risking rejection by asking for what you want.

It means going after what you really want, even if you’re scared you won’t get there.

The world needs your genius, and you simply won’t get as far if you don’t hold your head high, even if it means faking confidence at the beginning. So do yourself a favor — and do the rest of us a favor, too — by bucking up, executing like you mean it, and not being afraid to tell us you did.

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15 Replies to “It’s Crazy (and Almost Unfair) How Much This One Thing Affects Your Career Success”

  • Jen says:

    I have to say that reading your e-book about building a social media business was one of the keys to getting me more comfortable with my business. I so appreciated when you said that you’ve just got to get out there and do it. You may not know everything you absolutely need to know at the beginning but you’ve got to start somewhere. Building confidence is key. I’ve been working hard at it and cutting myself some slack. And, there are a lot of not so good people out there.

  • A great subject to write about. And yes, I agree with you Alexis, it seems crazy that confidence can be the number one thing that gets people through (makes for success) even above their ability to do a good job. Often confidence, energy and enthusiasm come before authenticity, knowledge and competence. Confidence is the largest subject I coach people on especially in regards to their careers, no matter how successful they are. Too often people believe their weaknesses and short comings and it stops them from what you describe — being bold and creative and taking risks and asking for what they want.I love your sentence – \’It means going after what you really want even if you\’re scared and you won\’t get there.Thanks for a fresh take on an important subject. Gets you thinking.

    • Alexis Grant says:

      Thanks for chiming in here, Michael! Your comment got ME to thinking about another point I should’ve made: that this creates opportunity for those of us who might not be the smartest or the best at what we do. There’s another way to get where we want!

      • YES! Excellent point.
        What are our assets? It’s the difference between IQ – book smarts and EQ – street smarts. I worked really hard in school to get top grades but my successes and even triumphs were with creativity and self expression. I was successful and smart there and…wildly confident.

        I look forward to reading your new article. Thanks for taking the time to reply.

  • I’m so glad I read this! I know a handful of individuals in my field that seem to have a crazy about of success, and I’ve been scratching my head as to why – they’re not great writers, they don’t have innovative ideas, and they don’t engage with their audience well. Yet they’re so successful, and THIS is why! And this is also what I need to work on myself. I have confidence in my writing, but expressing that to other people is hard – I feel like I’m being annoying and arrogant (and it makes me cringe to think about someone’s reaction if I say “I’m great!” and they don’t agree). But your post makes complete sense and I understand that I have to improve at exuding confidence and being sure of myself when I say, “you should hire me because I’m a talented freelance writer and blogger who produces excellent content.” Building confidence is now my top priority. Thanks so much for an excellent post that got me thinking about ways I can improve!

  • the ol’ fake it til you make it” type approach.

    It’s definitely true the more your perceived as being a success the more successful you will become. Success creates success.

    The more you have of it, the more you can continue to build off it and ultimately achieve your goals!

    Great post Alexis!

  • Great article and a good reminder to be confident even when I\’m not sure of the outcome. Your writing always hits home with me and you have a good reason to be confident. In other words, your confidence is well-placed and much-deserved, and you should be very proud of the great work your producing. I\’m confident that one day I\’m going to become as good a writer as you are.

  • Confidence is definitely a huge part of becoming successful. Even after I published my book, I would still refer to myself as an “aspiring author” as I felt I wasn’t quite at the same level as others. But really it’s like you say, you are what you say you are and it really help to convey that to others if you’re confident in your approach. So I dropped it, and haven’t looked back. Though I still consider my myself an aspiring inventor since I really haven’t invented anything yet.

    Great article, it really connected with my thoughts today.

  • This is so true. You can be the most talented person in the room, but if you don’t believe it no one else will.

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  • Lisa Reman says:

    Self confidence is power to success and your article really nice to learn about self confidence. Will come again to read more new to improve self confidence.

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