How important is self confidence?

Last night, in an interview following her dismissal from the Apprentice, Lindsay Booth admitted that she had to go because she didn’t have the same self confidence as the other candidates. At the same time a friend of mine said that she wished she had some of their self confidence. It got me thinking whether self confidence is always a good thing.

Can we be too self confident?

Can we be too self confident? 

Is it possible to be too self confident?

I recognise that a dollop of self confidence is useful in business. It helps us to sell with conviction, to negotiate to our advantage and to drive for success, but can you have too much of it?

I suspect that your view will vary depending upon which side of the Atlantic you do business. In the USA self confidence is expected and valued whereas in the UK we tend to mistrust, or even dislike, people who are overtly self confident. We may see self confidence as arrogance; it can often look like that in the editing of the Apprentice and some people come over like that when introducing themselves. How do you respond? Are you drawn to self confident people or are you more comfortable with those who show a little vulnerability?

Can self confidence affect decision making?

I wonder if a little self doubt can lead to better decisions. When we are uncertain we ask for opinions, we listen to guidance and we stop and think. Do we do that when we are confident? I think not. Whilst it’s important to be decisive we can make mistakes when we go it alone. It can be helpful when someone challenges our decisions and enables us to see potential problems that have escaped our notice. I guess it comes down to the level of our self confidence.

If we have an unshakable belief in our own abilities to the point of arrogance we will not always make good decisions or win friends and influence people. If our self confidence is tempered with recognition that we may not have all the answers then it has to be a good thing. What do you think?

To return to Lindsay Booth…

As for Lindsay Booth I felt a bit sorry for her, she seemed too nice for the Apprentice. She is already a successful businesswoman operating a swimming academy which employs six staff and gains new customers by recommendation and experience. She is clearly self confident in her sphere of experience and I guess that’s the key. We need to be confident in our areas of expertise and perhaps to push at the boundaries of that expertise in order to grow, the problem comes when we think we know it all.

 

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