Jon Daiello Product Designer 🦄

Journal

Confidence: The Humble Companion

In my last article, I wrote about the necessity of humility in the web industry; specifically in relation to education. I highly recommend that you head back to read that article, and then continue on here. If you decide not to, the basic premise was that you can’t learn if you aren’t humble. You can’t be teachable if you aren’t willing to put your pride away.

“If you open your mind for a few moments and close your mouth, you might learn something.”

I believe this to be 100% true. However, it doesn’t fully encompass the breadth of the conversation. If someone is standing on humility alone, that won’t be enough. That’s why I decided to write this follow-up article. Because, this is an extremely important conversation that we need to continue.

What is Confidence?

Now, before we get too far, we need to set some parameters for our discussion. When I refer to confidence, I’m not talking about pride. Don’t confuse pride and confidence, because they are two distinctly, separate things:

Confidence is the idea that you believe you can succeed.

Pride is taking this too far and considering yourself better than others, or feeling that you deserve a certain amount of respect.

Ok, with our variables defined, let’s continue on.

Humility Needs a Partner

Humility will only get you so far. You need to couple humility with confidence.

  • You CAN learn.
  • You CAN experiment.
  • You CAN be great!
  • Do not put yourself down and expect that you will fail.

You need to have a healthy dose of confidence in this industry. It’s a tricky balancing act, for sure. However, it’s one that must be practiced for you to get it right. So, if you haven’t already started thinking about it, fire up that gray-matter processor and get on it.

Make sure you’re pursuing confidence and going after it! I encourage you to have confidence and to work and succeed at your craft to continue to bolster your confidence. It’s a necessity. On the other hand, we need to guard against pride. It’s really the antithesis to a cohesive web community. It’s the opposite mentality that we need for a mind that is ready to learn.

How to Get Confidence

So how do we go about gaining confidence? What are some practical ways of building humility’s life-long companion? I’ve assembled a list of 5 things I have found helpful in my journey toward confidence:

  1. Don’t put yourself down: If you’re in the habit of putting yourself and your work down…stop it. It’s not helpful to yourself, or your work. Instead, find ways to interact with others and your work that help you highlight the aspects of your work that really shine.
  2. Focus on your successes: It’s easy to get down when we fail. Trust me. I fail often. We all do. So keep your failures in perspective, and balance them with other successes you have had.
  3. Break it down: It’s often overwhelming to think about designing or building an entire project scope. Instead, focus on small incremental pieces and accomplish those bits and bytes with greatness..
  4. Get some perspective: If you’re having trouble with something, find some eyes or ears to borrow. That can be anyone, even people who know nothing about the end goal. Sometimes just the act of explaining something can help you find a solution or new perspective on the task at hand.
  5. Keep at it: Hard work is crucial to learning new things. As you consistently work at it, you’ll have more and more successes that you can stock pile away in your ‘confidence cabinet’. If you encounter frustration or feel like giving up, go back to point #1 and repeat.

Conclusion

As we’ve seen, humility only gets you half-way. Humility needs to be coupled with confidence for you and your work to succeed. So as your confidence quotient increases, you’ll find that new challenges start to appear more like exciting opportunities. That seemingly impossible issue will turn into another great learning experience. Confidence can help you get there. You are capable. Don’t forget that we all have to start somewhere, and even the greatest minds in the industry have had to build up their confidence quotient. Keep your focus on where you want to go and remember to stay in a positive state of mind.

Humility + Confidence = We all win!


Update

It seems like in my day-to-day this concept of confidence, self-doubt and imposter syndrome keeps popping up. Two recent podcast episodes to help you think through this: