24 Jan Passion and Confidence
The Link Between Passion and Confidence
When we talk about confidence, questions I often find myself asking my mentees are “Do you love what you do?” “Do you feel as though you’ve really found your purpose?,” “Are you excited by your work?”
If these questions make them feel the least bit uncomfortable then I usually challenge them. I ask them to consider if their confidence issue is really about confidence after all? Perhaps it is simply because they are not doing the right thing.
The Research Around Confidence and Passion
When conducting research for my dissertation, all of my interviewees reported that they needed to feel they were doing the right thing in order to feel confident about it. They mentioned needing to have a sense of “Authenticity” and this was a thread that ran through my results. Other researchers have found this sense of purpose or calling to have far reaching consequences.
Wrzesniewski, McCauley, Rozin and Schwartz (1997) found that workers who looked at their work in terms of “a calling”, or being able to do meaningful work, were likely to obtain higher scores when it came to life, health, job satisfaction and health. They also self-reported significantly less sickness leave.
More recently, Rosso, Dekas and Wrzesniewski (2010) drew from a literature review that meaningful work is likely to reduce the amount of absenteeism and stress in the workplace. Another study (Allan, Douglass, Duffy, 2015) found that meaningful work reduced or moderated the impact of work stress. You can see how important it is.
If you are fired up about something, with a sense of purpose, you are more likely to forge ahead and less likely to worry about what could happen. You just want to get on with it. This places you in situations and introduces you to people that naturally grow your comfort zone, and so grow your confidence without you even knowing. It’s a virtuous circle too. The more your comfort zone grows, the more you feel you can tackle, and the more the zone will keep growing.
Passion In Action
My own early career illustrates this. I started off in journalism after University, but, despite being quite adept at many of the skills, it just wasn’t firing me up. I had little passion for it, which was really odd as Iall through my teenage years was sure that this was my road. I approached my jobs in a lack lustre way and always felt I was counting the hours. When my boyfriend and I moved to Australia for a year in the middle of a recession, I couldn’t get a job on any publication. Eventually, I accidentally found something in PR – same skills, slightly different job.
I hadn’t heard of PR until then. However, as soon as I started, I felt I had found my home. I loved my work, so much as that I was inspired to set up my own business in London. I felt much more confident from the beginning. I had no qualms about approaching business owners and asking them if they would like me to represent them. As a journalist I had hated going up to people I didn’t know.
Growing your Passion and Confidence together
For any young person, there are two sides to this. The first is to make sure that they are on the right path. Help them get access to the best career advice possible, and encorage them to really think about the apprenticeship, degree or graduate scheme they are considering following. Second, if they are already half way through their course, it’s probably more important that they stick it out and get the qualification they’ve been working towards (but, not always). Encourage them to explain what they enjoy or love about their work. How can they get access to more of that? Are there ways that their work can be made more exciting or meaningful for them. Help them tap into the passion they have for that subject and they will probably find their confidence increasing too.
Paula Gardner is a career coach for young people. To book an introductory chat with Paula click here.