How many times have you heard someone tell you to “be confident?” Whether it has been before an interview, networking session or an exam, I have been told many times, “Fahad, just be confident. That’s all that matters.” But what does that even mean? I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have heard, and told, students the same thing because it always sounds like the right thing to say. How exactly does one just “become confident?” I do not know about you, but I don’t have a button on my body labeled “confidence” that I can just turn on and off as I please. Lucky for you, I know that recruiting season is fast approaching and your interview with PwC (fingers crossed) is right around the corner. That is why this blog post will teach you how to turn the “confidence switch” on the next time someone tells you to just be confident!
“As is our confidence, so is our capacity” – W.H.
Confidence is feeling good about yourself and what you are capable of doing. Confidence is driven by a combination of self-esteem and self-actualization. Confidence can help you achieve the greatest of feats that you would never know you are capable of accomplishing.
When I spent some time really digging deep and trying to figure out what sparks confidence in oneself, I realized it is a function of two things: maximizing your strengths and mitigating your weaknesses.
In order for you to be confident, you must ally yourself with your strengths and really believe in yourself. However, keep in mind that this is a mere start. You should proactively seek opportunities to exercise and further magnify your set of strengths, whether it is via joining clubs at school or taking part in business competitions and/or debates. Because people tend to synonymise strength with muscles, let me drive the point home by the use of a simple reference to working out. If you are an individual that likes to lift weights, you probably know that in order to increase your muscle mass, you constantly need to work out your muscles; otherwise they will turn into fat. Similarly, if you want to increase your confidence, you constantly need to work out your strengths in order to ensure they are perpetually growing; otherwise your greatest strength may become your greatest liability. Personally, I always seek out opportunities to exercise my strengths because at the end of the day, it not only helps me grow as a person, but more importantly, it makes me feel good about myself and feeling good about yourself is the catalyst to confidence.
Your weaknesses are as important (if not more) as your strengths.. I can guarantee you that the most confident people that you know are not focused on minimizing their weaknesses, but rather mitigating them. You might ask, “why mitigate when you can minimize? Isn’t having less weaknesses good?” Yes and no. Let’s be clear about one thing. No one is perfect. Everyone has weaknesses and even the most successful people in this world have failed multiple times, but they were persistent in mitigating their failures and not minimizing them in their heads which is what made them successful. This might be the harder route to gaining confidence, but I promise you it is the more durable. Focus on your weaknesses and think of either a set of strengths and/or beliefs that you posses that mitigate those weaknesses. Once you know that the majority of your weaknesses are mitigated and backed by lucrative assets, you will never fear failure. And not fearing failure is the epitome of confidence.
“Before you attempt to beat the odds, be sure you could survive the odds beating you” – L.K.
I hope you are all worked up about honing your strengths and mitigating your weaknesses, but hold on. Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves because similar to all worldly ideals, confidence is a double-edged sword. On one side, confidence can help you land your dream job but on the other, overconfidence can be an unfortunate channel to failure. (Un)fortunately for me, I have had the pleasure of facing both sides of confidence.
I remember after my first year at McMaster University, I was determined to launch my career at an early stage but had very little guidance on what I should exactly do to get the ball rolling. To add to the problem, I was spending my summer back home in the Middle East where it is almost impossible to find a summer job opportunity without knowing the right people. I might not have had the right contacts by my side, but I had something much bigger and more important: confidence. I setup a meeting with a Partner of one of the “Big 4” firms on my initiative. I remember walking into his office and thinking to myself, “what the heck did I just get myself into? I don’t even know my debits from my credits.” Low and behold, I landed a two month summer internship at the firm and I remember explicitly what the Partner said to me as I walked out of the office: “I admire your confidence and passion. See you next week.” Now don’t get me wrong, I am not telling you to walk into a Partner’s office at your dream firm after your first year begging for a job. Simply said, for those of you who have experienced it, the Middle East just works differently (for the better in this case). Remain true to your passions and goals and remember that no one is more powerful in helping you land a job than yourself and your confidence.
I remember after the two-month internship in my first year, I thought that was it. I was going to be guaranteed a job back in Canada after having worked for one of the Big 4 firms. That was not to be the case in my second year. Similarly, in a recent exam I just wrote, I was placing in the top twenty percent in my mock and practice exams when compared to my colleagues. I thought when the actual exam would come about, it would be a breeze. That was not to be the case either. Too much of anything is not good, especially when it comes to confidence. Always remain humble and show humility as you never know what can hit you next. That is why finding the right balance between confidence and overconfidence is a tricky act.
“Never forget that only dead fish swim with the stream” – M.M.
If I can credit one thing for the relative success I have attained thus far in my career, it would be the fact that I always faced fear straight in the face and never backed away from any challenge. I always reminded myself that sitting at home and dreaming about becoming something in life will not make my dreams come true (Disney would tell you otherwise). Recruiting season is fast approaching and this is your last chance to achieve that optimal level of confidence that will hopefully sail you through the recruiting process. Go out and conquer your fears. Introduce yourself the next time you see a recruiter. Be proactive and request an office tour prior to recruiting season. Do whatever you can to ensure that you have set yourself up for success when you see the firm banners lined up against the wall in September at your university! If you choose not to listen to me, then listen to Nike: and just do it!
As always, I hope you enjoyed my blog post and have learned what to do when someone tells you to just “be confident.” Confidence is something that cannot be taught but rather comes through experience. It is all in your hands from here!
“If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it, I know I can achieve it.” – J.J.