If you would have asked me about my confidence a year ago today, I would have told you that, though I come across as being very confident, I am really not. I felt as though I was lost in a cloud, flying blind, a lot of the time (and still feel this way a lot). I would make decisions and if they went poorly, I reacted very badly. I tended to pour anger and frustration all around me because I felt as though I was not capable, or was not ready to be in the positions in which I found myself.
Ask me now about my confidence and I will tell you with great assurance that I am no longer as confident as I used to be! I will also tell you that it is okay.
My parents, in-laws, wife, and kids can all tell you about times that things have not turned out the way I had hoped they would because of a simple mistake or oversight on my behalf, and how I feel as though I have failed at so many things. Having come to this school, I have been placed in some very difficult positions. The pace is so quick, the requirements so strict, the instructors so demanding, I have been forced to start pushing the envelope which contains my sense of “everything will be okay.”
Everything will in fact NOT be okay.
I am going to fail and I am going to screw stuff up.
I have been told by past leaders that I am a leader, that the bar I set for my peers is pretty high, and that I outperform those around me. I never saw that. I saw that other people would get worked up a lot more about the requirements, would work harder at their tasks than me, and would spend more time getting their tasks accomplished than I would. My perspective was that they were better equipped and more motivated to succeed than I was, that they understood what was going on better than I did, yet somehow my leadership, and those working around me, started to rely on me as the “go to guy” for things that involved me. I was so afraid of screwing up what I was working on, that I never pulled the trigger on a project or task until I was absolutely, positively, 100% sure that the task was complete and met the standard. By the time I executed my task, I felt absolutely confident that it was right… but I would not act until then. This did not breed in me a sense of confidence though, it simply created a sense of focus, speed, and intensity in me that caused me to work my tasks faster than those around me. While they were still unsure of what to do, I had finished my work and called the shot… confidence in my ability or quickness to finish because of a lack of confidence in my environment?
I would stay at work until 3 AM working on some tasks. Think about that! I would do almost 2 days work at night while my peers were home asleep because I was afraid I was going to miss a deadline or turn in a job that was incomplete. My “confidence” was purely fueled by a true lack of confidence.
I do not have the time or resources to work my current tasks until they are absolutely 100% complete. I am having to turn things in, run reports, finish tasks when I am mostly sure they are okay. That is a long way from 100% complete and correct. I am turning things in that meet the standard but require some correction instead of turning in perfection.
Having worked for so long in an environment where my work was pretty close to perfect, turning in things that simply meet the requirement is really hard.
It got even worse this month. So far I have failed 1 test (made a mighty 64 on it), and have had to redo one of my tasks 7 times before it met the standard! Talk about a death blow to my paradigm of confidence. In the midst of the rework, I had the privilege of writing lines like I was back in middle school in order to correct one of my deficiencies. I am faced with a Gastrointestinal lab, Head/Ears/Eyes/Nose/Throat (HEENT) lab, Cardiovascular exam, and HEENT exam all stacked up next week.
Guess what… my world did not come to an end. I have royally screwed up several things this month now that I am having to perform on a much higher level than I have in the past and it is okay.
I don’t feel as though I have clearly communicated what I am feeling… let me summarize like this…
I was so afraid of failing and having other people see me how I see me that I worked really REALLY hard to make sure everything I did was absolutely spot on.
Now I am in an environment where I cannot do what I used to do.
I was super afraid that I would drop the ball and the people around me would see me for the fraud that I so often feel I am.
I dropped the ball… I dropped it many times!
The people around me, family, friends, co-workers, leaders, looked at me, gave their advice/criticism, and moved on.
I had to do a lot of work because everything is not okay.
Apparently that is life…
And I really am okay!
Confidence is a thing of irony for me now.
What others may see in me and call confidence is really just me learning how to fail, recover well, and live with the grace and mercy that has been given to me.
Everything in life is not okay, but with grace, I can be.
… So Joey, when you ask how I am doing, and I say, “I’m doing really well” and you say, “Awesome… I would like to hear why you are doing well…”… well… this is why.
Thanks for asking!