Be confident enough to give 100%
This month’s Guest No-box-thinker is Susan Ritchie, of You Time Coaching. Sue is a Mentor and Trainer specialising in Confidence. I first met Sue on Twitter and immediately enjoyed her no-box-thinking approach to life’s every-day challenges.
She has amazing ability in her field and her own journey empowers us to see the only limitations to our ability are those we create for ourselves.
I’ve recently been enjoying the latest season of The Apprentice, and have followed the progress of Lord Sugar’s would-be partners with interest and in some cases, amusement. Over the weeks, my own favorites emerged, and in last week’s final, the winner was finally chosen.
Watching an interview with the winner, Ricky Martin, on breakfast TV, I was disappointed to hear a phrase that never ceases to irritate me – “I’ll give it 110%.”
Why? Because a 110% does not exist – it’s impossible to be 110% anything. It’s meaningless, empty rhetoric. It’s a phrase uttered when people want to prove how committed they are to a project, when they want to impress and in my opinion, adds an air of desperation to the person making the statement.
I’m sure that Ricky Martin was making the point that he was intending to work hard, perform to the best of his ability and prove to Lord sugar that he had made the right choice. Admirable and sensible sentiments, but as I heard that ill-used mantra, I began to wonder whether Lord Sugar had made the right choice. Is Ricky as confident as he appears? What impression is he really giving by claiming to offer “110%”?
I certainly don’t think it inspires confidence in others. People who claim to be “110%” strike me as the exact opposite of the image that they’re trying to portray. Whenever we start a new job, take on a new project or hope to impress for whatever reason, we all want to appear confident, capable and committed. Of course we all want to create the right impression. But claiming to be able to give 110% is ludicrous. The most any of us can give is 100%, but none of us can give this all of the time. 110% hints at the fact that there is a fear lurking somewhere – that your best performance won’t be good enough, so it has to be inflated into something almost mythical. I would be worried that a member of my team making such claims, while they had the best intentions, really doubted that they could perform well enough. They’re on course for failure.
Setting yourself up for a super-human performance is unrealistic and the fact that you’re willing to sacrifice yourself, your family, your friends, your health and your mental health for the sake of your job/career/project shows a lack of realism and balance, and is ultimately unsustainable. That path leads to burn-out, stress-related illness and absenteeism. It also puts pressure on other members of the team and colleagues to perform to a ridiculous ‘bar’ which is unattainable, perhaps fostering resentment and ill-feeling.
If you want to inspire other people’s confidence in your own abilities, then a different approach is needed. A truly confident person understands the need to maintain a sense of self; they understand boundaries. A truly confident person will be committed to their job AND themselves. They won’t feel the need to give the impression that they can be at some else’s beck and call, 24/7. A strong sense of who they are, their foundations and values will mean that they feel confident enough to make it clear that they are committed to their role, but that there is a point at which the phone gets switched off and they become ‘out of office’. They are realistic, flexible and committed, without an over-the-top self sacrificing promise of nothing, which is really what’s on offer.
A team member who understands their strengths, asks for help when they don’t know all the answers, can problem solve, thinks creatively, is willing to learn and develop, is flexible and communicates openly will go a long way to inspiring confidence in others.
Relax and be yourself – don’t try and be a super-human version. You are good enough, just as you are. Ricky, take note.