Posted on March 25, 2022 by Joy Patton, One of Thousands of Career Coaches on Noomii.
How variables can help when your self-confidence is shaken.
“Confidence is your ability to put your step forward without necessarily knowing what’s going to happen.” —Muriel Maignan Wilkins
I recently listened to the brilliant and insightful author/CEO/executive coach Muriel Maignan Wilkins present her podcast series on Coaching Real Leaders, in partnership with Harvard Business Review. In this particular session titled, How Do I Get My Confidence Back? she masterfully coached a client who was struggling to regain his confidence and she presents the concepts of “confidence in the process” and “confidence in the outcome” (Wilkins 2021). She adds that, “they’re closely linked, but there’s a difference between the two” and she emphasizes that, “all you can do is control the things that are in your control” (Wilkins 2021). As a result, the client discovered that he had abandoned his process over the years and his focus on the outcome created anxiety around factors that were beyond his control. This discourse highlights the significance of placing confidence in variables that are within control in order to reach a higher probability of achieving the outcome.
In my book titled Predicting Leader Survival in Covert Operations from Congo to Cuba, I explore the dependent variable survival—whether leaders live or die—and the independent variables leader characteristics, public dissent, global instability, internal conflict, and regime type. Case studies focus on eight covert action events that were both successful and unsuccessful in order to answer the question: Can leader survival be predicted based on analyses of US-sanctioned covert action events during the Cold War era? It made me think about how we we can identify our own variables when it comes to confidence. Through a lifetime of successes and failures, are we able to see what variables lead us to success or failures? By focusing on the process and not the outcome might we be able to finetune our methods in order to enhance the overall result?
At one point in my career, I had hit a wall when it came to progressing to the next rank and my confidence was shaken to the core. I was focused on the outcome: the promotion list. For the longest time, my myopic view of the outcome was based on quantifiable statistics and where I fell in the stratification amongst other officers. The outcome was unknown which created a lot of unnecessary anxiety for me and it made me doubt my leadership abilities. When I shifted my focus on gaining confidence through understanding variables that I could control, the process became effortless and I was able to move forward with grace and ease. It felt like I had been hiking with a 100lb ruck sack for years, only to encounter bramble overgrowth and boulders in my path. By focusing on the process, I saw that my confidence variables existed in a 22 years of success as a military officer when I drew from my strengths: leadership presence, empathy, the ability to create trust with people, and consistently demonstrating the aptitude for solving complex problems under pressure with a calm demeanor. Metaphorically, I had taken off the heavy ruck sack and started the climb with a newfound feeling of lightness and curiosity. Are you focused on the process or the outcome? By knowing the variables you can control, might you be able to regain your shaken confidence and find your success?
WORKS CITED: HBR Presents Coaching Real Leaders with Muriel Wilkins
Patton, Joy. 2022. Predicting Leader Survival in Covert Operations from Cuba to Congo. Lanham, Maryland. Lexington Books An imprint of The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc.