What’s your most important technical skill?
Mechanical, hands-on aptitude?
Nope, nope, and nope.
Eh? (Sorry, I’m Canadian, can’t help it.)
That’s not a technical skill!
I thought this was about powerboosting a career in aerospace engineering! If I wanted life coaching, I’d have gone elsewhere!
Yep. I lied. Self-confidence isn’t a technical skill. But it might as well be, given how much it affects everything else.
It doesn’t matter how technically competent good you are at anything. If you don’t believe in yourself, and trust your own instincts, you’ll never achieve much.
Some people seem to be born with truckloads of poise and self-confidence. They seem to know where they are going at all times. They seem to have all the right connections. Their careers just go from strength to strength.
I wasn’t one of those.
Without going into a lot of detail about my upbringing, I started life and career with zilch in the way of self-confidence. I lacked the courage of my own convictions, and was convinced everyone else was smarter than I was, and could do it better.
Self-Confidence 101 isn’t a course they teach in secondary school or university. (Maybe that’s just as well. I’m not sure it can be taught. Only learned.)
As a result, I was not a terrific engineer for my first decade.
Actually, I was pretty crappy.
I now look back on things I did, and decisions I made (or refused to make, more often) with a measure of embarrassment.
With time, it slowly began to dawn on me that I was a much better engineer than I gave myself credit for. I started to look at myself from the outside, and see some of the smart things I had done.
By believing otherwise for so long, I was otherwise for so long.
Teach yourself to believe in yourself. Learn to trust your own instincts. Remind yourself of those times when you had to make a judgement call, and got it right.
Learn to define yourself as [INSERT YOUR NAME], Inc. Or ltd, plc, pty, gmbH, you choose.
As you do that, your inner good techie will gradually materialize outwardly.
Fail to do this, and it doesn’t really matter what other skills you have. You will not go far. You will underachieve. You will be a disappointment to yourself (and perhaps your family) for a lifetime.
You will also make technical mistakes (which the Self-Confident You wouldn’t make) that could endanger people’s lives.
If that’s you . . . . . take action now.
Admit that you have a problem, much as one might admit you have a problem with substance abuse, or an eating disorder. And get some help with it.
There are plenty of resources and people, online and offline, who can help you overcome the problem far better than I can. I won’t attempt to do that here, I’m no therapist.
But please, for your sake, and for ours, . . . . .
Recognize self-confidence as an essential career skill.
And develop yours continually.
The only person who will ever hold back your aerospace career is you.
I’ll continue this discussion in the next post, and suggest a useful mental tool to use.