Whenever taking on a new major project, such as choosing a career, it is best to be optimistic and confident. Sure, there are times when confidence can become arrogance and blindness, but if you know your project or career ideas are valuable, then confidence counts.
It’s also common among successful people. A recent Business Week article by Marshall Goldsmith illustrated this: “I once asked three business partners to estimate their individual contribution to the partnership’s profits. Not surprisingly, the sum of their answers amounted to more than 150%”
The author indicated that this was a good thing, as it fits into the profile of successful people. Having surveyed more than 80,000 people in his business programs, he found that “80% to 85% rank themselves in the top 20% of their peer group, and about 70% rank themselves in the top 10%. The numbers get even more ridiculous among professionals with higher perceived social status, such as physicians, pilots, and investment bankers.”
What does this mean for choosing a career and career planning? I’d say that if you are already super- confident like this, you might want a reality check with people you trust. But for most of us who are likely to have doubts in anything big and new we might be trying–such as trying out new career ideas–we need to recall our past successes and realize we ARE building on them even if we are applying those lessons to a new field.
Goldsmith, for instance, recommends reviewing our “highlight reel” of successes and thinking how that applies to what we’re doing.
Now if you dislike your current career, you might think you have no highlight reel to use in deciding what new career you want. But have you succeeded in making other big decisions–what college you went to, what city or neighborhood you live in, who you married, whether or not to have kids? You may not always feel great about everything you’ve chosen, but you certainly have successes you can review.
From them, you may well realize how you made a great decision and apply some of those processes to new projects or new career ideas. You may realize that the key was simply to get information and then see how you felt about it, and then decided. Or you may say that there is no model to follow, but you can still say–I’ve succeeded in these tough times and decisions before so I simply recognize I can do it again.
So upload that highlight reel on your own inner YouTube channel and be ready to view it when you are feeling a bit uncertain about your ability to find that great career which will benefit you and those around you.