Glenford Smith | Get the task done
QUESTION: I am a recent graduate of the University of the West Indies, UWI, who have done fairly well, except in English. I admit, I did just enough to pass. The thing is that I find it impossible when I am to go and prepare my résumé, cover letter and all that's involved with the application process. Honestly, I feel intimidated and totally scared at the prospect. I have gotten someone to write my résumé and the cover letter, but that still leaves me feeling inadequate. Help! – G.
CAREERS: Thank you for your letter. Self-doubt is something we all feel, at college or university and when we come out in the world of work. Congratulations on the successful completion of your course of study at UWI.
What you’re struggling with is self-confidence, plain and simple.
We read that:“ If you have no confidence in self you are twice defeated in the game of life. With confidence you have won even before you have started,” in The Philosophy & Opinions of Marcus Garvey by Amy Jacques Garvey. Truer words were never spoken.
In your application process – résumé and cover letter documents – one theme runs through the two for the successful candidate. That common thread is ‘outstanding", which the Merriam-Webster defines as “standing out” or “projecting”.
Attracting attention or notice because of remarkable, excellent, exceptional or extraordinary quality is equally applicable. To attract attention or notice in a sea of applications is what your aim must be. Self-confidence is a prerequisite for being outstanding.
Where you lack self-confidence you will be scared and intimidated; you will not want to stand out. You will be plagued by anxiety and self-doubt. To quote the book on Marcus Garvey: “To fear is to lose control of one’s nerves, one’s will – to flutter like a dying fowl, losing consciousness yet alive".
So, you will have to gain control of your mind, step up and do the thing even if you are presently afraid. That means, you must command yourself to do the application and find a way to get it in the hands of a decision maker. To make any meaningful progress in life, we all had to do it. Even if at first we did it badly.
In Glen Mills’ Profile interview with Ian Boyne in our book Profile of Excellence, he spoke about Usain Bolt when he came back to Jamaica in 2004. Bolt’s confidence was basically shot. Remember, he had been a major disappointment, dropping out in the first round of the Olympics and had just taken on Mills as his coach. The media and fans gave him a horrendous time and he was down on himself.
Mills said: “I sat down and spent a lot of time talking … I told him about the importance of having mental strength and that what he was going through, he should use it to build the toughness and confidence needed to compete … What I was trying to do was to help him not to lose confidence when he lost a race.”
Today, Usain Bolt is a superstar. But even he had lost confidence in himself at one point; just like you have. You can feel scared and intimidated, but get the task done anyway.
Glenford Smith is president of CareerBiz Coach and author of From Problems to Power and Profile of Excellence.