Look at me here thinking I can write things...
The thing about being a newbie to this field and other comparable fields is that with your freshness and varied exposure to good “book smarts” and all the text-book methods, you will inevitably wade and negotiate your way through your early practitioner years without a clear philosophy of practice, especially as you experience the new realities of real life practice i.e. What does my practice/method mean to me? What does my practice/method stand for? How do I convey those values into a workable practice/method - that works for people? It’s a pretty standard feeling out process for anyone who might work with people. Like where are my best skills which help me deliver the best outcomes consistently which also intersects with an acceptable level of satisfaction and happiness within my work which enables me to want to come back each day, keep learning, expanding and generally not put a bullet in my throat in the not too distant future?
Sorry to get sort of morbid, but some workers are unlucky enough that their work does make them want the figurative bullet in some moments… just moments, but still…
A working philosophy, a practical application that works for them and works for you. Cool… This is often the soft quality that can take some time to mold or discover for the standard greenhorn out of school and also requires some elements of luck also, as just to be in a position to be able to have flexibility to sort of discover it - especially early - might not always be the case. In my case, I am lucky enough that I do have the flexibility to practice the way that (right now) works well for me, but also seems to deliver very satisfying outcomes for client/patient and myself. This took an element of time and “stripping back” or “trimming the fat” of my methods of the varied things that I’d learnt, seen or read from other practitioners, books and frameworks and generally deciphering how to integrate all the best practices into the straightest line from A to B with my best skills. A lot of that trimming you could say comes from just wisdom (not to espouse that I’m of any deity-like level yet, or ever), but the accumulation of information, experience and exposure over time along with sprinklings of some freedom and fortune. The changing face of the research within some domains also helps, it did for me. The changing theories about what best practice means has meant that the qualitative skills have more scientific value than ever, thus the “art of coaching” matters more than ever - a stream I’ve always naturally gravitated along. This combined with just becoming somewhat more pragmatic about how to utilise the best evidence, the mechanics of what works, being aware of what I really know I can deliver, keeping it simple and just because a certain expert does “X”, doesn’t mean that I necessarily should/must replicate or even attempt “X”... or can at all.
This has meant that I finally feel pretty comfortable and skilled enough to be able to thoroughly tackle most problems that arrive on my desk with enough know-how, wisdom and articulation to be able to execute. Or in other words, that magical juice that they all talk about being the most elusive yet essential characteristic of any good anything…
Finally feeling confident, especially for the new grad can be the most liberating experience within your work-life, as well as life-life you could have, especially if you value your role and identity within your occupation as part of your holistic life-identification framework. In other words, if you give a shit about what you tell people that you do when they ask at parties, then confidence that what you do is enjoyable for you, meaningful to whom you serve, you don’t feel like a total fraud and generally doesn’t feel like a total bullshit job then this is a pretty awesome feeling. Awesome at the party, as well as awesome at the office. This reflects in you holding your head up higher each time you practice, you become more resilient, more enthusiastic to self-educate, more aware, you feel less stressed, better rested and the cycle goes on and on and on. The holistic nature of our lives is deep and complex, but it doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out that if things are humming beautifully at work, then many other things concurrently lift up around you also.
You can’t will confidence, but you can learn it. It can come in episodes but still be fleeting, but over time it can become more of a permanent and stable state - especially in regards to your practice. This will take time though. Hence before you go trying to artificially generate the confidence juice for the public by taking your insta selfies with all the #livingmybestlife and #confidence hashtags about how you’ve finally #madeit and have mastered this whole practitioner caper, the large caveat of the important quality of humility is the most important self-limiter that needs to be trained. You see, true confidence in your practice comes in the idea that you can back yourself to be right AND wrong… and be just as okay with being wrong as being right. This is especially especially ESPECIALLY true for the science based practices. The characteristic of humility and an honouring of the unknown, curiosity, an openness and acceptance to your potential wrongness is the real secret juice within the juice. The confident ones who are blind to the other side are the real frauds and either don’t know it, or just don’t have the humility to be able to pivot if things change. Your malleability means that your willingness to be vulnerable, to openly “admit” you might not know something or that things aren’t so clear means that you will not keep pretending and eventually snookering yourself, or limiting yourself, or not evolving thus not growing.
And knowing that you’re not evolving, changing and moving whilst everyone else is will mean that you’ll be left looking over your shoulder, unsure if what you’re doing is still best practice and ironically, this scene is back to a similar place just like when you were a new grad greenhorn.
Unsure. Speculative. Fumbly. Unconfident.
This has all come pretty circular in a weird round-about, of confidence in your practice skills ultimately becoming by humility and always being open to what you don’t know. Crazy right? Like, entertaining my shortfalls is meant to make me think I have the confidence to conquer the world?
I suppose where this is meant to go is that ultimately when you’re humble and are willing to know and acknowledge what it is you don’t know, then you will not pretend. You will know your limitations. You will operate within the competent skill set you currently possess and are confident, therefore doing good reliable work. You will be aware and accepting of your current limits, thus know how to expand them in the future. You will know how to ask for help and learn from that experience. You will practice honourably, by doing the right thing for the person you’re serving… Trust me, they’ll figure it out if you’re not. Also, nothing will irritate your senior, or other good collaborating practitioners more than not staying in your lane. Staying in your lane will endear you to them as a good practitioner, it’s a sign of outcome before ego. You will earn
And that feels good.
Find confidence, but seek humility first. Humility begets confidence.
Signing off... xo