Confidence in my 30s

Confidence Guy

This is part 2 of a 3-part series on Confidence 

Where did that Sunshine Girl go from our first post in the Confidence Blog Series? That team playing university graduate willing to challenge anything with gusto? That Vice Captain “in her day”, scoring goals and travelling the world? Well she’s still here, but she has become a woman (some gentlemen may even say a lady) tempered by a little more grace, wisdom and knowledge. Confident now in her intuition and willing to have a go at anything.

I’m now quietly confident in the abilities of both myself and my team, local and globally. Having reached my 30s, I have learned to trust in both my own instincts and the instincts of others. In other words, leadership has been more about developing confidence in others while trusting in my own knowledge and ability. It’s about knowing instinctively what the best course of action is for individuals and understanding their environment.

My 30s have also been about demonstrating to the next generation how to act and behave in times of stress, in times of change, and in times of hurt. How we act in these times demonstrates our strength of character to the many future leaders watching. They will follow our actions and learn from the ways we act, helping them to see that the difference between right and wrong is often a matter of perception, timing, or environment.

If we use the colours of the rainbow metaphor from my earlier post on confidence, this means that your “colors” will appear differently depending on who you are. Some might even be color blind. As such, how you view success will change depending upon where you are located, or how you perceive changes in your environment. You might see a rainbow or sunshine or rain. Depending on your culture you may see blue where another might see green.

Confidence Blog 2

In your 30s you learn to conceptualise ideas. Not everyone thinks like you and so, to get ideas out of your head, you have to be able to communicate them in a concise and consistent manner, both in words and diagrams. Ideas may start as 4D movies or models in your head, but they need to be broken down, simplified into smaller pieces and built back up again on paper for others to understand.

You also learn the values of both simplicity and complexity while in your 30s, and that either could be required for differing audiences. You also learn not only the value of innovation, but how everyone is capable of it. All it requires is the ability to think differently than others…and the confidence to do so.

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower” – Steve Jobs

What does Confidence look like?

Simple and small things can mean the difference between confidence and arrogance. Signs that you have the right balance include:

  • You tell stories in context and people love hearing them
  • You use the term “We” many times in a day
  • You constructively challenge others, and do so in the right time and in the right forum.
  • You have learned that there are many more communication and leadership styles than your own
  • You listen to every individual and treat with respect
  • You understand that saying please and thank you is always a good thing
  • You’re known for using both optimism and pessimism in a measured manner
  • You let others sell what you do
  • You truly value your team
  • You look for opportunities for others
  • You work to finding another word for no when possible
  • You negotiate and help others to see all options and the strategic viewpoint
  • You encourage others to help and to learn
  • You recognize fear when you see it and then manage it. You don’t become fearless, but you embrace fear and use it for good.
  • You have an inner voice that is aware of its own positive and negative storylines
  • You value diversity
  • You maintain healthy relationships and understand that they change.
  • You’re able to slow down or move faster with change, while helping others stay on the journey together as a team
  • Accepting that Haters will be Haters, you know that the only person you can change is yourself
  • You stay true to yourself and believe in the goal no matter what.

“A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions and the compassion to listen to the needs of others” Douglas MacArthur

In our 30s we have to look out for one another and look after those emerging in our industries whom are still growing, learning, and getting their environment just right. We need to let others make mistakes, but we also need to be wary of when confidence can be lost. Ensuring we help others to learn how to bounce back in these cases is critical.

What can erode Confidence?

Simple and small things can lead to losses of confidence, including:

  • Receiving critical feedback
  • Being challenging at the wrong time
  • Being asked to raise your voice in a public forum
  • Being told “No” too many times
  • Self-doubt or a negative inner voice
  • Surrounding yourself with people that bring you down rather than build you up
  • Fear
  • A career break

As we empower others to lead, we need to protect them and help them navigate the complex world of business so that lessons are learned and confidence is tempered — but the courage to continue despite all odds is treasured.

Please look out for Blog Post Number 3 in this series, which focuses on what is up next for my 40’s and how you should continue to do good and help others to grow.

Sarah James was ANZ lead for Authentic Leadership in DXC and an advocate for DXC’s Women in Leadership and STEM. Prior to leaving DXC in September 2017, Sarah founded the Empowering Future Leaders blog and was its primary author. With over 15 years of experience in the world of IT, Sarah’s specialty is spatial information and includes integration on projects as diverse as mapping volcanoes in Hawaii to delivering high-tech police vehicles.


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