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Which comes first – success or confidence?

Which comes first? Confidence or Success?

Being promoted, receiving annual raises and having people report to you can make you feel important, respected, and successful. But is that enough? What about doing fulfilling work that makes a real difference in the world? What about loving what you do as an individual contributor or the thrill of entrepreneurship?

We gain confidence from achieving visible and measurable work goals. Having an Impressive title or rich paycheck gives us a sense of pride and accomplishment. Jobs can reaffirm that you are good at that work and accepted in that tribe. Your work gives you a purpose to rise each morning and make plans for the future. Work inevitably challenges you to grow as a contributor, mentor, manager, and teammate. You increase your self worth by contributing to something bigger than yourself.

However, when our jobs are not aligned with what we value, need and want, work becomes an enemy. It causes us to question why and how we got so unlucky or chose so poorly. On the flip side, success can breed arrogance and incompetence. When we rise too fast or for unearned reasons, it can make some people act overconfident. Other people express a lack of confidence by being arrogant. This is expressed in a variety of ways such as someone who is cocky, pedantic, or one-upping others.

Success can even make us doubt who we are and diminish our self worth, too. A massive 75% of executive-level women have experienced imposter syndrome at some point in their career. This career condition can creep in when you achieve success and then seriously question your competence - despite other people’s clear vote of confidence. You may try to fake it, but even if you sometimes appear confident, it’s exhausting and not sustainable.

Here is how you can build real & resilient confidence as you continue your career:

1. IDENTIFY YOUR VALUES: Apply a better meter that reflects your truly need and want. More money, bigger organizations and senior titles may rock your world, but so can having a flexible schedule, doing work that is fun and fulfilling.

2. BUILD A COMMUNITY: We all want to work with people that we enjoy and respect – and who enjoy and respect us. To thrive, we need environments that give us psychological safety and inclusivity.

3. HELP OTHERS BE CONFIDENT: Heartfelt, verbal thank you’s can have a tremendously positive impact - maybe even more than some of the quantitative things we bulletize as our accomplishments. Often, low-paid, lower-level employees are the happiest, most confident of all. How is that possible? They greet others with a genuine smile, make welcoming eye contact and are active listeners. It’s because they already know that the best way to get confidence is to give it to others.

So does success build confidence, or vice versa? If you believe success means working and living according to who you want to be, not what – then confidence is undoubtedly a requirement for success, not the result.

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