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  • Writer's pictureSteph

Class of 2021 - courage is the new confidence

Updated: Jun 7

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Courage is the new confidence

I’m often asked by job seekers, ‘How can I get more confidence?’ Countless articles and books are devoted to the subject, so it’s a reasonable aim. While it has its place, I’ve come to learn we’re asking the wrong question.

What we need is courage.

To me, courage is moving even when you don’t know exactly where you’re going. Developing courage means exploring, following your intuition, and taking calculated risks. To be courageous does not mean being alone. You may be the first to attempt something new in your family, community, or industry. This can be frightening and exhilarating. We are courageous when we lean on each other, ask for help, and reach out for support.

One of my mentors is known for saying that most people don’t think big enough. During life transitions it's easy to play it safe, think small, and stay in our comfort zones. This is understandable and sometimes wise; yet, memorable victories are not necessarily won in a linear path. Personal growth comes from creating mindful strategy, powering through obstacles when needed, honoring our vision as much as we can, and being of service to others along the way.

How can the Class of 2021 build the muscle of Courage?

Practice being courageous

As a 3-sport athlete, game days were exciting but I truly loved our team practices. Teammates became friends as we ran drills, conditioned, and prepared. Consistency is the hallmark of success. Channel your inner athlete when you start your job search.

It takes courage to look for work. This is a whole new ball game and a unique job market. Do not let that dis-courage you. Prepare to win. When you sit down to job search, remind yourself that you are doing something that matters. The seeds of courage come from doing everyday things with excellence, self-compassion, honor, grit, and optimism.

  • Go after what you really want while being flexible. Adapting to a multifaceted situation is a sign of ingenuity. Find a way to incorporate as much of your dreams as you can. It may be fulfilled by a day job or perhaps there are more steps to take until that happens. That’s okay. Carve out time for your passions. Begin with 10-minutes a day if that’s all you have. Stay connected to your vision anyway you can.

  • Job search with a bias to action. Brainstorming, self-reflection, and thought work are necessary to career development. Pair this soul work with job search activities such as researching organizations, gathering information from people in your field(s) of interest, creating a compelling resume and LinkedIn profile, collaborating with mentors or a job search coach, and applying to job opportunities. Taking action strengthens courage. You can do it.

  • Discover your core values. Knowing who we are takes time. We evolve, change, grow and sometimes that’s just before lunch. Learn about yourself including what matters most to you right now, your preferred environment, and what drives you. In addition to identifying interests and talents you’d like to use and share with the world, what do you stand for? Who do you care about? Where and when do you flourish? Find your tribe and a work-home that brings out your best.

Commit to self-care

Athletes make the time to warm-up, stretch, play, compete, cool-down, sleep, and rejuvenate. Their training regimen strategically involves days off. I see job searching as similar to athletic competition. Fuel the tank with things like daily walks, exercise, nourishment, connecting with good friends, seeking and maintaining positive relationships, journaling, yoga, painting, mindfulness meditation, and more. When you’re well-rested, energized, connected and feeling a sense of lovingkindness around you, it’s easier to envision your preferred future and take the necessary steps to get there.

We are courageous when we take care of our mind, body, and soul in a society that recharges its cell phones more than its spirit. Self-care is a necessity and an act of kindness for the world. When you’re centered, you can be intentional, inspired, and altruistic. We can look at a job search in a pandemic and think to ourselves, I’ve got this. We may find a job, our life’s calling, or something in between to pay the bills. Whatever it is, we can consciously direct our energy to creating a life we like. Choose one aspect of self-care that feels fun and restorative to you, and make it a daily, lifelong habit.

Get out there and play

Courage is an act of heart. It does not mean perfection. Stay in the game, keep playing, experiment, and put yourself out there. In our favorite movies, the main character grows, has flaws, makes mistakes, laughs, cries, and is wonderfully human. We like leaders who are real, open, and engaging. We want to see nature unfiltered.

Look at finding work as an adventure. Pack your bags with the supplies of fortitude, enthusiasm, a sense of humor, and resilience. Incorporate best-practices and learn the fundamentals of a job search, to make it easier on yourself, while ensuring the path is as unique as you are.

Most importantly, do things outside your job search. Lead a full life, right now. Yes, a job search takes an investment of time and hard work; it is for this reason that balance is critical, to career success and your emotional wellbeing. It is easier to job search when you don’t feel deprived. Take a holistic view, incorporating necessary action for your future while enjoying the present moment in the life we are given.

Start now

As a graduate, you may notice an unusual combination of autonomy and limitations. We often glamorize milestones like commencement and even retirement by painting a picture of sleeping-in, playing golf, or lying on the beach. While we all desire lazy days napping in a hammock, I think what most of us really want is a sense of accomplishment, belonging, personal self-worth, and knowing that we’re making a difference to someone or something larger than ourselves. This interconnectedness makes us whole. We want to share our favorite talents and feel valued. When things go well, work can be a springboard allowing us to grow, develop, and contribute goodness to the world.

Ground your job search in sharing your gifts, being part of a team, and learning for a lifetime. Imagine being paid to do something meaningful to you. This is not just a job search. It’s a chance to carve out a life you want, maybe for the first time. You probably won’t wake up wanting to craft a resume, and all of us ponder the proverbial black hole of where do our applications really go? Rise above the system, make it better where you can, persevere, and claim the life you want. We need your voice in the working world. We need your inimitable take on things.

And, that takes courage.

© 2021 WORK DOT DOT. All rights reserved.


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