The Confidence to Ask, “What’s Possible?”

Your level of confidence can make the difference between asking “why not me?” or staying stuck in the same old unfulfilling rut. 

The experiences of Jake and Erica illustrate the importance of confidence in exploring more fulfilling career opportunities.  

Jake and Erica were data engineers with a high-tech company who were eager to transfer to the autonomy team.  

“I’d love to transfer to the autonomy team,” said Jake, “but I hear they’re only hiring people with robotics and machine learning degrees, so I don’t have the credentials they’re seeking.” 

  “I wonder if they’d consider bringing in someone with an excellent performance record who could quickly learn the technology,” responded Erica.

 “I doubt it,” said Jake, “my buddy, Mark, tried to transfer to the team but was turned down. It doesn’t look like that’s an option for me.” 

 “Well, I’m going to check it out, anyway” stated Erica. 

Eight months later, Erica transferred to the autonomy team, where she excelled and moved into management within a year. Jake continued to languish in his job for another year and then moved to a similar job in another company.  

Both Erica and Jake are good engineers with similar educations and strong track records of performance. Yet, one was able to transition to an exciting cutting-edge team while the other stayed stuck in an unfulfilling role.  

The difference in their outcomes was shaped by their level of confidence.

Confidence in the Value You Bring 

Based on her prior experience, Erica knew the value she could bring to any team.  She had great strategic planning skills and had been recognized for her ability to collaborate with multiple teams to deliver a product.   While she may have lacked the academic background and work experience of the typical autonomy team candidate, she was confident in her ability to quickly learn the technology.  

Her confidence in her strengths and abilities prompted her to go the extra mile in exploring whether there might be an alternative path to her desired job. 

Jake assumed based on “what he’d heard” that he lacked the qualifications for the role he desired. His choice to focus on his limitations shut the door to considering any other possibilities. 

Do you, like Jake, focus on your limitations or are you confident enough to explore what might be possible? 

Here’s a simple exercise to remind you of the value that you bring and boost your confidence.  


Write down all your accomplishments over the last 10 years.  Include all your wins – degrees, certifications, excellent performance reviews, skills acquired, awards, and other recognition from colleagues, employers, and clients.

 Don’t overlook accomplishments in your personal life especially the skills acquired, and traits displayed as you managed the pandemic disruption. 

When you’ve completed the list, you’ll be amazed at how much you’ve achieved. 

The Confidence to Ask “What’s Possible?”

Like all confident people, Erica is a possibility thinker. Possibility thinkers don’t argue for their limitations.  Instead of saying “not me” they ask, “why not me?”

When they encounter what appears to be a closed-door, they don’t assume it’s locked and give up. Rather, they view the situation with genuine curiosity asking, “I wonder if…” or “What’s possible now?”

Their curiosity prompts them to expand their network and connect with people from other teams, disciplines, and backgrounds as well as explore other possible paths to their desired roles. 

Erica went out of her way to reach out to several members of the autonomy team to learn more about their work. She asked for course recommendations to acquire the skills needed to work on the autonomy team. 

After completing several courses, she volunteered to do a couple of side projects to show that she had mastered those skills.  

Do you give up too easily or are you willing to explore other possible paths to move forward in your career? 

The Confidence to Stay Committed 

 Erica’s transition to the autonomy team didn’t happen in a few weeks. She invested weekends and evenings taking courses and doing side projects.   She also continued to cultivate relationships with members of the autonomy team. 

She had hoped to be able to transfer to the new team in five months, however, a temporary hiring freeze shut down that possibility.  

Erica didn’t give up. She continued to stay connected to the team and work with them.   Her patience, persistence, and hard work paid off three months later when she was invited to join the team.  

It all Starts with Confidence

Jake’s lack of confidence led him to assume that there was no possible way he could move into a more fulfilling role. 

On the other hand, Erica’s confidence prompted her to ask, “what’s possible?”  even though an opportunity appeared to be closed to her. Her self-assurance led her to create an opportunity for herself by exploring and following an alternative path. 

When you’re faced with what appears to be a closed-door, do you assume that an opportunity is not for you, or do you have the confidence to ask “why not me?” and explore other possible paths to your goal? 

“The only limits to the possibilities in your life tomorrow are the buts you use today.” — Les Brown

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