I recently finished reading Mindy Kaling’s book Why Not Me? In the final essay of the book, Mindy writes about where she gets her confidence.
“People talk about confidence without ever bringing up hard work,” she says. “I don’t understand how you could have self-confidence if you don’t do the work…confidence is like respect; you have to earn it.”
I have printed this quote in size 40 font and posted it above my desk because I think Mindy nailed it.
Confidence Is Earned
What I love most about this is the idea that confidence is something that each one of us can acquire in every single facet of our lives.
Do you want to become a more confident parent? Then keep reading about parenting and learning about your child. Show up every day and do the hard work of parenting. You will become more confident.
Do you want to be a more confident French speaker? Pay for a French class, practice French on a phone app when you wait in line at the bank, and speak your beginner French to every French-speaking person you meet. If you put in the work, you will get more confident.
Notice that Mindy does not say that you will become more successful. Hard work does not always result in success. But because hard work results in confidence, it makes failure easier to bear.
Keep Up the Hard Work
I started freelancing four years ago, and when I go back and read the pitches I submitted I am stunned by how meek I sound. I was clearly not confident. Every job I didn’t get crushed me. My lack of confidence made it harder to bear rejection, which in turn made me reluctant to pitch.
Now when I re-read the pitches that I wrote last week or last month I’m stunned by how confident I sound. I literally read my own pitches and think “Dang, I’m awesome. How can anyone resist hiring me?” I still fail just as often as I used to, but when clients inevitably do not hire me I don’t take it personally. I have four years of hard work behind me, and I am confident of the value I can bring to specific projects in my niche. I’m also confident that I will find other opportunities.
Starting a new career venture is scary. But it will get better. If you are a freelancer, know that if you keep working hard everything will get easier. Your confidence will grow and the things that seem challenging now will soon barely register on your radar.
Take the plunge. Do the work. Confidence will follow.