Thursday, April 1, 2010

30-Day Confidence Building Challenge: Professional confidence is a work in progress

Confidence imparts a wonderful inspiration to its possessor.
--John Milton

To start this challenge I want to do something that's kind of arrogant: I want to question the esteemed Mr. Milton.

Now, I'm sure it's true. And I know it to be true personally. When I'm confident in my work, I'm more inspired, I'm freed up, I'm on fire.


Here's the thing: When I started freelancing, I thought I had to be confident before I sent the query, made the phone call, brainstormed story ideas. I was obsessed with what the editor would think on the other end of the email and what the source would think on the other end of the phone call. I needed them to choose me. I needed for them to hire me so I could get the confidence.

And since I believed that I had to be confident first, I was stuck. Paralyzed.

I see this with my clients all the time. Especially freelancers who are new to journalism, but also freelancers who've been in the industry for years, we believe that confidence is a prerequisite. We don't understand that you get the confidence by doing the work.

That's what this challenge is all about. With all due respect to Mr. Milton, it might be easier to be inspired when you're confident, but you can find your way to inspiration and action before the confidence kicks in. Then, by doing the work, by doing the thing you're scared of, your confidence grows. Then you get assignments. Then inspiration comes a little easier.

So I want to challenge you for the next 30-days to consider the possibility that confidence isn't an essential state. You aren't either born confident or your screwed. You gain confidence by doing things you didn't think you could.

You gain confidence by:
  • Querying a market you've always dreamed of querying. (It's nice when they email you back.)
  • Writing up the query for the story you've been dreaming of writing for three years.
  • Walking up and introducing yourself to the editor at the conference.
  • Having lunch with that freelancer who intimidates you, to whom you're convinced you could never compare.
What you find is that the editor, the freelancer and the person on the other end of the email are just people. You find that you can do things you didn't think you could. You change your mind about yourself. You aren't stuck and paralyzed.

You're inspired.

Photo by
J.J. Verhoef.

1 comment:

Susan G. Hauser said...

So glad you're back. I've been waiting, confident you would return.