Confidence to outlast the recession

“You have to turn a negative into a positive. You have to defeat defeat. To do this, you have to believe in what you do, even when you lose.”
– Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles head coach


This week has been very hectic due to a strange attractor: I had an interview. Using the analogy that the job hunt is a sprint, I spent most of my time this week preparing for that event. At this point, I don’t know whether it went as well I thought, but I did notice one thing: I was present in a way that I have never been in other interviews. Most of the time in other interviews, I have spent most of my time in my head, thinking about how to respond to the next question – not whether I was 100% present. I think that helped me do a better job of responding to questions.

Back to the purpose of the post:

When I did have time this week to think, I thought about Confidence, and how to keep it in the middle of one of the worst recessions we’ve ever had. Notice I said recession. I heard someone in a virtual job fair say that we were in a Depression. I was kind of irritated by this as it’s hard enough to stay positive without people throwing out words like depression. We tend to use words nowadays for their effect rather than to describe an actual situation. Pet peeve. Moving on….

To give the person credit, they had just graduated and were entering this job market. A very different job market from the 90s. I’m not an economist, but I do know that we are not as bad off as the Great Depression. The constant talk about “crisis” and “bad economy” tends to eat at people’s confidence to spend money, to hire employees, and to expect that things will turn around. All of which are needed to rise above this current downturn.

Reading Confidence: How Winning Streaks and Losing Streaks Begin & End by Rosebeth Moss Kanter gave me some tools to use to stay upbeat. She recommends that people who want to stay confident should focus on…

  • Personal Accountability – or the willingness to dig deep and ask yourself whether you are putting forth your best effort. Instead of comparing yourself to others, be honest with yourself about whether you are ‘playing your best game,’ then identify the steps that you need to take to close the gap. She writes, “Winners redefine setbacks as detours en route to success, and they redouble their efforts to find a way around the obstacles.”
  • Personal Collaboration – or the decision to think first about others when facing a loss. Avoid the loser’s temptation to shut down and withdraw. Reach out to help others and build your own “mini-network.” She writes, “When in trouble, find a partner.” I’m reminded of a proverb from the Bible that says, “A threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Eccles 4:12)
  • Personal Initiative – or the willingness to take action. Even if the action results in mistakes, winners make corrections and keep moving forward, one small step or accomplishment at a time. Focus on what you can control: how hard you work, the actions you can take and celebrating your small wins. “Celebration of the small wins creates confidence that bigger goals can be achieved,” Kanter writes.

I read a story this week (I apologize if you know where – I can’t remember) about a dog that was thrown into a pit and the owner began to pile dirt on top of him to bury him. Instead, every time dirt was shoveled down, the dog shook it off and leapt on top of the dirt. Eventually, the dog was back on the surface. I am looking at this current downturn in the same light. While undoubtedly the world won’t go back to the way it was before, things will get better.


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