I tell my 17 year old son who plays hockey that there’s a thin line between confidence and arrogance and he needs to be right up on that line when he plays. I want him to be confident in what he’s doing, take calculated chances on the ice. Use that confidence to know that winning is always within your grasp – even that losing is not an option. Off the ice, I teach him humility, generosity. I think he gets it. I hope he gets it. But, maybe it’s not as simple as I think it is. So I thought I should write it down…
Here are my top three ways to get up on the line without crossing it:
1) Know your stuff. Have all the facts. Make sure you’re in good shape – if you’re a hockey player, literally; if you’re in sales or management, figuratively. School yourself on your job. Make sure you understand what is expected of you and make sure you know what your opponent, or client will be bringing to the table. For example, in sports, know who’s playing for the other team. In work, anticipate what your client might say, i.e., budgets are tight this year, we don’t have the staff to accommodate a promotion like that, I can’t afford a full season ticket, etc. Knowing you’ve done your homework, knowing your stuff will make you confident.
2) Know other people’s stuff. It’s a good idea to know what other people are doing or should be doing, or even how they might do it differently, but keep that to yourself. Be ready if the situation presents itself. Does it make you arrogant that you can do someone else’s job? I don’t think so. If my son is on the second line and knows how to quarterback the powerplay who do you think is going to get a shot when the #1 defenseman goes down? Listen to and learn what is going on around you and move in when you get the opportunity.
3) Be nice. This one might be a bit unexpected, but extremely important. Praising other people’s work and efforts is the single most important thing we can do to build our own confidence. If someone finds a creative solution to a difficult sell – acknowledge that. If a colleague or a boss creates a new revenue stream or ticket package, validate their good work. Generosity in the workplace, generosity anywhere, builds all kinds of things, and confidence is one of them. I’m not sure how that works….but I can promise there are at least 14 self help books that can tell you it’s true. It could be as simple as, “Hey, nice pass.”