Confidence vs. Certainty? Which one is best?

The final Post-it note was stuck on the board. I walked over to the flip chart with my initials on it and took them all in. For the past two years, our leadership team has given each other very candid and caring “stop,” “start,” or “continue” feedback via Post-it notes. It’s a super quick, effective way to see themes in how you’re showing up. Last year, I got a very straightforward “stop being late” Post-it from our Art Director, and I was expecting to get that one again* along with some other harsh but good nuggets from our team. Instead, I was surprised by a few that read something like this:

Stop doubting yourself. Start trusting your instincts.

This specific refrain is not new to me. It tends to resurface in my life whenever I start to lead projects or people—when others are looking to me and confidence matters. In unpacking this with a colleague who delivered the feedback, I realized I somewhat conflate certainty and confidence. I rely on the former to generate the latter in me.

But, in this refreshingly honest and vulnerable post from our CEO, Ryann Lofchie, I’m reminded once again that certainty is an overrated and dangerous quality in a leader, even if it seems that is the expectation. But, based on my Post-its—it’s not.

*The fact that I did not get the “stop being late” note either means I’ve gotten better, or, in my apologetic self-awareness, she’s given me more grace.

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