A Question on Developing Self Confidence

Here’s a question someone asked on one of the online forums. I found it interesting because it deals with issues surrounding self-confidence and perceived social misconceptions:

How Do I Break Out Of My Shell?

I’m considering a career in marketing/advertising but I’m awfully shy. A friend recently suggested that a career like this would “force” me out of my shell and I would learn to love it.

I’m very doubtful but let’s just say that he’s on to something… How do I even begin? I’ve been reading up EVERYWHERE that these people are very outgoing, natural leaders, opinionated, creative, the list goes on. All things that I don’t think I am.

Can this stuff be learned? Or is nature greater than nurture.

And IF it can be learned, where do I begin?

Self Confidence can be Learned

Here’s my response:

It sounds like you are considering a career change based on what someone else wants. So my question to you is this: What do you want?

The short answer to your question is, yes, all this stuff can be learned. There is no such thing as a natural born leader, sales rep, engineer, runner, etc. Some of the best leaders out there are introverted and introspective while some of the poorest sales reps I’ve met are outgoing and opinionated.

I started my career in engineering because, for 18 years, I was shy and preferred to work with machines rather than people. I still like the challenge of pulling a machine apart just to see how it works. But I also enjoy teaching communication programs, speaking to large groups and selling.

If you are looking to change careers, make sure it’s because the the day-to-day challenges excites you.

If you can imagine yourself waking up every morning and thinking, “I can’t wait to explore the challenges of today”, then you need to make the move. That’s where your passion lives.

On the other hand, if you envision yourself waking up and dreading the office, then you don’t need that career. There are too many people out there now who are stuck in careers that are slowly killing them. But they stay because they need the money or the medical benefits or they don’t know what else to do.

My recommendation, look at what brings passion into your life. Then, make your career choices based on that.

Now, if you are just looking to “break out of your shell” and develop self confidence, join a Toastmasters group or take a Dale Carnegie course. Then start thinking about career changes after you’ve eliminated the shyness question.

Good luck.