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Thursday 23 September 2010

Confidence - Losses and gains.

Yesterday, i posted an AudioBoo in which i happened to mention confidence. This was mentioned in the context of having just been offered a part time job and the potential boost in confidence that this may well bring.

After talking and thinking about this afterwards, i have decided to expand on this topic a little. Partly for my own benefit. But, also because it is a topic that is very relevant to a lot of us.

As i said in the AudioBoo. I have just been offered a part time job. Nothing particularly earth shattering about that, you may think. But, for me this was big news and good news too.
One reason for this being such good news, apart from the obvious monetary considerations, is the fact that this will now allow me to persue some other ideas that i have. One of which i mentioned in the podcast. That is something that i will be talking about at a later date.

But, the other aspect that i also mentioned, was the boost in confidence that a job offer like this gives to you.

I was made redundant in July of this year, after working in the same industry for very close to 36 years. I left school at the age of 16 and went straight into work. I literally left school on the friday and then started work on the following monday morning. And that's where i stayed for the next 36 years.

Now i realise that this makes me fairly unique and also very lucky. Not many people are able, or willing, to stay in the same line of employment for that long. And many more have the decision made for them and are made redundant, laid off, sacked etc etc.
I was also lucky in that i was able to take early retirement, with the agreement of the company. This certainly helped to soften the blow and left me in a better position than some.

But, one potential downside to remaining in the same industry and in the same line of promotion, is that you tend to lose touch with the outside world. I was also in a line of work that was considered to be safe. Obviously, that illusion was shattered for me a few months ago!

So, when i found myself out of work and in need of some form of work. I was totally out of touch with how to go about it.
The fact that you've just lost your job is bad enough. But, the thought of having to find another, after such a long time and in the current economic situation, was not a very encouraging one.

Then there is the added consideration of the circumstances under which you lose your job and the huge dent that this makes to your confidence.
Without going into any detail. I was effectively told that i was not suitable for the new job role that i had to apply for, as my original job description was being fundamentally changed.
I, obviously, disputed the companies reasoning, as i felt that i was a worthy and experienced candidate. But, ultimately they had reached their decision and there was no going back.

As you can probably imagine, i felt rather bitter and even angry about this at the time. But, in hindsight, i now realise that the company might have, quite unwittingly, done me a huge favour.
Maybe, one day, i'll get the chance to thank them?

But, all of that doesn't change the feeling you then get, that you're just not good enough anymore.
Whatever age you are when this happens, it is not very nice. But, when you are in your 50's, there is a very real fear that you may well have been consigned to the scrapheap. At least as far as trying to find a new job is concerned anyway.
Now, that type of thing would, quite understandably, cause a massive loss of confidence for anybody.

Happily for me at least, that huge loss of confidence didn't appear to affect me too much. Yes, at first it was hard to come to terms with and i suspect that it probably affected me more than i actually realised. After all, it is never easy being told that you're considered not to be good enough for something.

So, yesterday's news was very welcome indeed.

The job that i applied for had 52 applicants, for potentially 5 positions. This in itself is a sign of the times, as i can't imagine the job would have got that many applicants in more normal times.
Twelve people were selected for interview. I was, obviously, one of those people. Now, i consider that to be an achievement of sorts.
As i mentioned earlier, i have been out of the job market for so long, that i had not filled in a proper job application form for many, many years.
Believe me, that made me think very hard and was not an easy process at all. So, to get an interview and then to be told that my application form was very good, was a nice boost.

During my recent working life i have interviewed many people. But, to be on the other side of the interview table was a very different prospect.
I don't think anybody likes to be interviewed? You are never quite sure how it is going to turn out and let's face it, some people are far better at being interviewed than others. This can seem to put certain people at a disadvantage. The interviewers themselves can, obviously, make a huge difference to how things turn out as well.
So, to have a good interview was another nice plus point and another confidence booster.

Not having had to get over both the application form and interview hurdles, for many years. Getting through that process was a valuable learning experience, as well as possibly setting me up for the future.
If i ever have to go through this again, i will do so with more knowledge and confidence.

Obviously, the ultimate confidence boost was the one that i got yesterday.
It was only when i started to think about it that i realised that this was actually a big vote of confidence in me.

So many of us go through life thinking that we are not as good as many other people. So, to be told that you are, essentially, better than 48 of those other job applicants can only be a good thing.

I have been as guilty as most people in not thinking positively enough about what i have to offer. Being British can be another disadvantage, as we are notoriously bad at singing our own praises and selling ouselves.

Maybe, now that i've had this big boost of confidence, i can have more faith in my own abilities.

All i need to do now, is to find something that i'm actually good at!


  1. It's amazing the blow one must take when something like this happens to them... Quite a wonder that people are able to pull themselves back up at all!

    I find that I start losing that type of confidence in myself also when bad things happen that I have no control over, like a death in the family, or even my grandma's recent stroke. It puts everything you once knew in a blender and makes you question if normalcy will ever return. Somehow, that type of uncertainty leads to a lack of self-confidence. It's a horrible, self fulfilling prophecy!

    Great post and once again, congrats!

  2. When we look around and see that this is a world-wide "economic setback", we know, logically, that "it's not my fault - it's the economy." But logic means nothing when you've been made to feel like dirt. It's something a lot of us have been experiencing lately. Good to take these boosts of confidence whenever and wherever we can.

    LOL at the last bit about "Being British can be another disadvantage" - At least the other 48 candidates were also British ;^)

    Best of luck with the new job!

  3. Thanks Gary. I did think of mentioning that i could understand why some people might really let this get to them & let themselves go & sort of give up on things. Thankfully, i have too many interests to let that happen to me.
    Although you have no control over a lot of the bad things that can happen. You do, at least, have some control over what you do afterwards.
    It reminds me of the lyrics to a song "I get knocked down, but i get up again. You're never going to get me down"

  4. Ken: I don't think mine was an economic decision. So i can't even console myself with that!
    I do feel the British thing is relevant. For example, you Americans are far better at celebrating success, than us Brits. So many people here tend to look down at success, or think that's it's not right to talk about it too much. That holds a lot of us back.

  5. Reminds me of the heavy weight fighter Floyd Patterson's quote "I was the fighter who got knocked down the most, but I also got up the most" I remind myself of that saying during the many times I've been down but not out! well done on the new job Andy!

  6. Keith: Thanks & that's a great quote Keith. I know that you've been through some bad times as well & it's good to see that you've come out the other side with a smile on your face.