Competence Starts with Feeling Competent
How good are you at what you do? Do you have tests or periodic evaluations or some other means to measure your performance? Surely, there is an objective way to demonstrate whether you are good at what you do and whether you should consider yourself a success.
Actually, people who do not think they are good at what they do -- who do not think they are capable of success or leadership -- do not change their opinion even when they are presented with indicators of success. Instead, their self-doubts overrule evidence to the contrary.
Don't wait for your next evaluation to improve your judgment of yourself, because feelings are not dependent on facts -- and feelings of competence actually start with the feelings and then produce the competence.
Ross, a dancer from Springfield, Missouri, dreams of making it to Broadway. His road to dancing glory began with local amateur productions, the kinds of productions in which auditions take place in front of all the other performers trying out. Ross found the experience daunting; it was like being examined by a doctor with all your peers watching. "I was so scared. I felt like I had just come out of the cornfields," Ross said.
Sometimes he succeeded, and sometimes he didn't, but Ross was able to try out for different parts in various productions and gain tremendously from the experience. "I have more confidence about my auditioning technique now that I have done it in front of so many people so many times."
When he tried out for the first time for a professional touring company, he won a spot in a production of Footloose.
Ross has one explanation for his immediate success in landing a professional part: "I had confidence. If you want to do it, you have to really want it and believe in it. You have to make it happen. You can't sit back and hope that someone is going to help you along."
For most people studied, the first step toward improving their job performance had nothing to do with the job itself but instead with improving how they felt about themselves. In fact, for eight in ten people, self-image matters more in how they rate their job performance than does their actual job performance.
It's Not How Hard You Try
Work hard and you will be rewarded. It sounds simple.
But remember what it was like studying for a test? Some kids studied forever and did poorly. Some studied hardly at all and made great grades.
You can spend incredible effort inefficiently and gain nothing. Or, you can spend modest efforts efficiently and be rewarded.
The purpose of what you do is to make progress, not just to expend yourself.
Achenbach's Pastries was a Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, institution. The family-owned bakery had a loyal customer base and had operated profitably for more than four decades.
In the 1990s the owners decided to expand -- to offer deli sandwiches and other goods and to add new locations for both retail and wholesale sales.
The bakery's owners had never worked harder in their lives than they did after the expansion. And in return for all their hard work, they got less money and the threat of bankruptcy because they could not keep up with debts incurred in the expansion.
Earl Hess, a retired business executive, provided capital to keep the company in business and then ultimately bought the entire operation. He looked at things as an objective observer and found that the bakery was doomed by inefficiencies.