I am a 290-pound black man and a Network Engineer. I was raised by a single mother in one of the toughest, small cities in Ohio. Yes, I previously had anger issues. No, I cannot change my complexion. Yes, I could lose a few pounds.
This post begins with the facts. Something I had to learn to live by and embrace.
So, what exactly is confidence?
According to Google it is a noun.
After scavenging the depths of the first page of Google, each link had this listed as the first definition: The feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something; firm trust.
Dictionary.com had something a little better.
Confidence: Sure of oneself; having no uncertainty about one's own abilities, correctness, successfulness, etc.; self-confident; bold.
Not having confidence is a terrible feeling and everyone can see it! You hunch over, hold your head down, and it is like you are walking with a dark cloud over your head.
This is not the way we want to live!
In basic training when things got tough and I started feeling sorry for myself, my TI would yell; STAND UP STRAIGHT, CHEST OUT, SHOULDERS BACK and HOLD YOUR HEAD UP! Thank you to my Air Force Training Instructor for shouting this 10,000 times, until it stuck.
Your posture is everything!
Did you catch the reference to 10,000 times? See, as a Network Engineer, they say it takes about 10,000 hours to become a CCIE. This is the expert level certification for our field. Think about that!
Every CCIE started without a CCIE, and every CCIE I have met has been confident. Their confidence was not because they are CCIE. Well, I take that back, lol. Having a CCIE is one of the reasons. But another reason is that over the course of those 10,000 hours, they have seen and endured so much. Like the pain of outages caused by a service provider, or routing loops caused by a service provider, or asymmetric routing issues caused by a service provider, or basically anything leading to endless hours of dealing with service providers. Lol, ok I think you get how I feel about service providers. The fact is, a CCIE realizes that he or she can work through any issue that comes along. Whether it is through their own knowledge, working with Cisco or reading documentation, they are confident the issue will be resolved.
It is ok not to have confidence when you do not have the experience. Keep working through the process anyway. When you do not succeed, you build true confidence through failure and repetition. Each time you will learn and improve.
Imposter syndrome: If you are intimidated by others because you believe they are smarter than you, that is an internal issue.
So what, if someone is smarter than you. Stop competing! Only compete with yourself. This is confidence. It is like walking into a gym after not working out for years, looking around seeing everyone in shape, and then walking out with your head down. Do not do that! Walk into your job standing tall with your head up, and shoulders back. If someone is smarter than you, acknowledge their accomplishments. Watch what they are doing and see if you can apply it to yourself.
When I first started this post, I said I had to learn to live by the facts. I do not want to be the smartest person in the room, because then I cannot learn anything. I am secure in the fact that I do not know everything. That is owning your truth and having true confidence.
So, how can you build confidence as a Network Engineer?
1. Get a certification!
Do you work to improve yourself and your skills? If not, then I suggest you go home and LabEveryday. Remember repetition builds confidence. Getting a certification is an excellent confidence booster. It will also improve your resume and in many cases boost your income.
2. Step up to the plate!
Do you hide from outages? Do you let someone else take the hard tickets? Do you avoid projects? I understand it is hard and that you may be afraid to fail. Do it anyway. Not only will this build your confidence, it will also cause people to respect you and start calling you for promotion.
3. Dress for success!
When you look good, you feel good! People approach you differently when you dress like a boss! (Hmm, this might be an upcoming blog post.)
4. Fix your posture!
Stand up straight, chest out, put your chin up and your shoulders back. How are you sitting in your chair at work? If you slouch or look like you are leaning back or asleep, lock your chair in an upright position. You can even get one of those balls to sit on. (Pause)
5. Believe in yourself!
Whether you need motivational tapes, memes, videos, or creating your own affirmation statement, do whatever it takes to begin to believe in yourself and your abilities!
Read over this post again and practice these 5 steps. If it helps you, please like it and share it to help someone else.
You have to embrace the tech journey!
This is not just the LabEveryday.com slogan, but it is what we live by! Build your confidence one day at a time.
YOU GOT THIS!
If you are interested or need help getting a certification, please check out our certification tools section of our blog.