Confidence is one of the greatest assets you can have when pursuing a career.
It helps you ask the questions everyone else is too afraid to ask, negotiate when it seems like things are set in stone, and otherwise move ahead in situations that other people may stop at.
But there is a difference between recklessness and confidence, and learning the difference between the two is often what helps you avoid making mistakes.
If you’re curious about what that looks like, here are the situations that you should avoid.
1. Assuming That They Know Everything
Ever heard the phrase “If you’re cocky, that usually means there’s something that you don’t know”?
It’s a humorous observation, but also a warning about the risks of thinking that you know it all.
In many cases, this kind of thinking won’t just land you into hot water – it’ll actively get in the way of your success.
Even though confident people might seem like they know everything, that’s usually because they’re well aware that they don’t have all the answers.
2. Not Asking For Help
If you don’t know everything, one of the best ways to deal with that gap in your knowledge is to ask for help.
But you’d be surprised how often I run into people who are either too proud or too ashamed to do that.
Having the confidence to ask for help is crucial. Career-wise, asking for help is probably the best way you can grow in your field.
Not only do you get sound advice on areas that you may be lacking, but it also helps you form long-lasting connections that can help your career as you move through it over time.
3. Thinking They Don’t Make Mistakes
Everyone screws up. But in a culture that heavily penalizes failure, some people may not think that any failure is an option – or if it does happen to them, it’s something to be ashamed of.
But real confidence is knowing your limitations and when you’ve run into them, and owning up to mistakes is part of that.
Remember, the first step to solving a problem is realizing there is actually one. That’s the power of admitting mistakes with confidence: it gives you a real opportunity to start fixing them.
4. Not Learning New Things
Careers need growth to give you new opportunities, better jobs, and overall improve your capabilities as an employee.
Confidence is taking on opportunities to learn something new, since these situations can always help you do your job better.
It’s good to note that learning new things doesn’t always mean that what you do will have to change.
Sometimes, even simple changes can make all the difference in pushing your career forward.
The important thing is to have the confidence and courage to meet these new things head-on, allowing you to learn and use them to the best of your abilities.
5. Being Always “On The Grind”
Career-oriented people often fall into the trap of making their career their entire life. I’ve seen plenty of people burn out in the name of the grind.
Even more push themselves past that point since they think that’s the only way to move forward in their careers.
However, confidence gives you the self-assurance that taking breaks – or even skipping work altogether – isn’t always a bad thing for your career.
It allows you to recharge and meet work again with a fresh perspective, which actually makes you work better long-term.
6. Pushing For More Responsibility
One underrated bit of advice I’ve received about my career is this: “Learn what you do best and just keep doing that.”
There’s always the tendency to want to push towards higher positions, more responsibility, and higher pay when the reality is that sometimes you should stay exactly where you are.
When you have the confidence of knowing what you’re capable of, you’re far more comfortable with working in the position you know best.
This gives you the best balance between responsibility and your capabilities, preventing you from burning out.
7. Not Getting A Mentor
Getting a mentor is always helpful for any career path: unfortunately, most people are either too proud or don’t have the confidence to ask for one.
But the confident people I know always have one or two people that they look up to.
Sometimes all you need to do to get a mentor is just to ask.
You’d be surprised at how many people are willing to share their knowledge and help you along your way, especially if you ask them sincerely.
With a mentor behind your career trajectory, you’ll have the confidence to truly grow into your own as you work.
8. Ignoring Certifications
Admittedly, there are some cases where you can be so good that your work speaks for itself.
However, it’s always better to get a certification (even just for formality) since it gives you the confidence to not only show your work but promote it.
Think of it this way: if you’re so sure of your abilities, there’s nothing wrong with sparing a little time and effort to get an official recognition that you’re good at that said thing, right?
Not only does this allow you to approach situations with more confidence, but it also helps with building your reputation without having to always prove your work.
9. Being Unwilling To Negotiate
I get it: it’s important to know your value and push for what you feel you deserve as far as your career is concerned.
However, there’s a lot of merit to learning how to negotiate and compromise, especially if you want to establish long-term relationships.
Learning how to compromise doesn’t mean that you’ll be short-changing yourself.
Sometimes, it just gives you an opening to a different opportunity with the same value.
These openings may not always be apparent if you don’t negotiate, and if you’re not truly confident in your skills.
10. Avoiding Risks Altogether
While stable employment is often the goal for a successful career, there will be times when you’ll have to take risks.
A new job, a new client, an adjustment to how you work – all of these are risks that everyone will have to take in their careers sooner or later.
Real confidence in your abilities can allow you to take these risks and overcome these challenges.
You don’t have to be reckless since you know what you’re capable of, and you’re less likely to back down from these risks since you’re confident that you can deal with the consequences.
11. Thinking Authority Is Never Wrong
Confident people can criticize their bosses.
Not because they can or because they want to, but it’s because they have the insight and confidence to call out mistakes and push for improvements when they can.
This isn’t so they can flex that they know better or belittle their bosses: it’s because they know that a workplace performing at optimal conditions is conducive to career growth.
Authority isn’t always right, and having the confidence to criticize your bosses can often lead to better outcomes for work overall.
12. Letting Criticism Get Under Their Skin
Alternatively, confidence also means knowing that you’ll be on the receiving end of criticism yourself.
And regardless of whether or not you follow or ignore that criticism, it’s always preferable to not take this criticism personally.
Having a good attitude towards criticism and feedback helps you deal with it better, whether it’s positive or negative.
It allows you to be objective and focus on how best to integrate this criticism with your work, which helps you perform better the longer you stay in your career.
13. Thinking That Success Means Meeting Numbers
Key performance indicators or KPIs will be an ever-present metric in any career: but it’s important to understand that these numbers aren’t all that matters.
Truly confident people understand that there will be occasions where the numbers don’t reflect the whole story.
More importantly, they can understand that results aren’t always indicative of someone’s performance.
While this mindset sounds more suitable for someone in a supervisory position, it’s also a helpful perspective to maintain regardless of your place in any business.
It prevents you from being too hard on yourself and keeps your focus on the things you got right more than the things you got wrong.
14. Underestimating Networking
Networking isn’t an activity that I’m fond of, but I can definitely name a few occasions where it’s come in handy.
Even if you don’t immediately gain any benefit from networking itself, the soft skills (and more importantly, the confidence) you can pick up from doing them can help you with a variety of challenges in your career.
When you know how to connect well with people, you can make your working relationship far more efficient than just letting the both of you do your own thing.
It’s not about proving that you’re the best in your network: it’s simply making genuine connections that everyone can benefit from moving forward.