Remember, You believe whatever your confidence level says about your competence. It blinds you to your actual level of confidence. The first thing you want to do is get objective. Here are three questions to ask yourself:
Question #1: Can I help a client/executive get a result? For example if you think you don’t know enough or have enough skill, ask yourself “based on what I’ve been able to know or do in the past, what result could I help a client/executive get?” If you can help them get the result you promise or are paid for, then you are competent. If there are nuances answering that question, then ask even further: “Which part of the result can I help them get, and which part can’t I”? That will indicate what skills you still need to learn to be Competent.
Here’s how my client answered this question about her competence to help the Senior Vice President get even better results for the department. She made a list: She is capable of advising her business partners on the specific protocols that help them run their business. She knows branding and can help get more visibility for his department. She’s identified operational gaps he probably doesn’t know exist, and has specific experience to fix them. When she asked herself these questions, she realized for her the block was in her Confidence, not Competence.
Question #2: What is mission critical to know and what isn’t? You probably tell yourself that you need to know EVERYTHING in order to raise your hand to speak up at a meeting with senior executives or follow up with a prospect. No one can know everything these days so that’s not objective! Separate out what’s really mission critical for you to know in your position or to help a client get a result, and what’s a ‘nice to know’ when you have enough time to learn more. If you don’t have specific knowledge or skills to do part of your role or get a client a result, then get cracking on a plan to build your competence. If you are just pressuring yourself to be perfect and already know everything, then it’s a Confidence issue.
Question #3: What is your knowledge relative to others in the interaction? Even if you don’t know everything or have all the necessary skills, Do you know more than other people who are going to be in the interaction? Do you know enough to explain to other people who don’t know as much as you? Do you know enough to weigh in and help others make a decision?
Or if you just need a shortcut to the answer, ask yourself this BONUS question: What does your ‘gut’ tell you? If you do a ‘gut check’, you’ll know immediately what the answer is. If you are in over your head and you really don’t have the skills, you will be fearful of misrepresenting your abilities.
You will know to pay attention to that little voice within suggesting you get some additional training or coaching. If it’s a Confidence issue, you’ll likely remind yourself that you have enough knowledge or experience to KNOW in your head you have the skills. The issue is just that you don’t feel it in your bones.
So if you are holding yourself back, what is it for you: an issue of Confidence, Competence, or both?
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