2 min read

Rebuilding Lost Confidence

Rebuilding Lost Confidence
Label on my monitor

Corporate job burnout is often underpinned by a loss of self-confidence. Years of micromanagement, toxic environments, compartmentalized organizations can take a toll, and perhaps it's been too long since you've:

  • Accomplished something materially with your own two hands
  • Been able to see something through end-to-end
  • Had the authority to make critical decisions to keep projects moving

I've definitely felt this way. It's a very "stuck" and hopeless feeling that has at various times made my path feel muddy and unclear.

How does this happen even with experienced executives?

My fondest career memories were those earlier years at a smaller company where I could see and turn all the dials needed to really make something happen. My value was very tangible and I never had any doubt as to what I was accomplishing at work in those days.

Over the years and throughout several different shapes and sizes of organizations, work became more about navigating corporate cultures and avoiding cultural landmines day in and day out: Tip-toe around this person. Convince these other people, again, that your plan is going to work. Wait, stop everything and cut your expense budget immediately. Restructure again. Don't tip over those sacred cows, either, in the process.

Yes, meetings are enough of an issue to be called out specifically.

Meetings are major confidence killers if they become the default activity for an organization. They slow everything down and quickly become the de-facto definition of "work" for a company if you let them, particularly in a virtual office environment.

A meeting-heavy culture shifts everyone from "proactive/empowered" to "passive/restrained/waiting for consensus". Everyone in these types of organizations will sit back and wait for the next meeting to take place day in and day out, making time between meetings a tremendous relief/recharge period, vs. time to do real work.

Years of this can make anyone default to a reactionary mindset. We forget what we can really DO if we are empowered to do it. Without the ability to "do" we forget what we are even capable of in the first place.

In building our own business, we cannot be reactionary. The phrase "make it happen" will never be more relevant than when you try to go out on your own. Therefore, we must rebuild our confidence.

We can't fool ourselves into being confident.

Our subconscious is too smart to be fooled by daily affirmations, self-improvement books, and motivational Post-It notes on the mirror.

We need to earn back our own confidence by simply doing some meaningful, particular things day in and day out.

You've heard it a million times before, but routine and discipline is the only way to earn back your own self-confidence. You need to prove it to yourself by shifting into another gear.

Reactive -> Proactive

That doesn't mean you need to immediately be a stoic Navy SEaL tomorrow. Start small, by blocking out some time to do lasting, meaningful work as often as possible:

  • Specifically work on something that is above and beyond what a client or supervisor was expecting
  • Make headway on a product design or roadmap
  • Knock out a large swath of small tasks that have been lingering for a while
  • Get in-person with clients to whiteboard and brainstorm big problems

Before you know it, you'll have your groove back. Every accomplishment will show "yourself", deep down, what skills got you where you are. It's the same as any sport or artistic endeavor. You've gotta put in the reps to build back that self confidence brick by brick!