RockIt Careers

Confidence Versus Competence

The Mayweather versus McGregor fight on Saturday evening was interesting to watch for several reasons. First, it was a match-up between two people who were trained for completely different styles of fighting. Second, the match was so hyped up that it was one of the largest fight purses in history. Third, and what I was most interested in, was that it was much a psychological match as it was a physical one. This was ultimately a battle between confidence and competence.

In This Corner: Confidence

Confidence is a state of self-assurance that comes from your appreciation of your abilities or qualities. Conor McGregor exudes confidence.

Leading up to the fight, McGregor had a lot going for him and he was highly confident in himself because of it. He was 11 years younger, he was about an inch taller, and he was more recently in a fighting ring. Up to this point, he had a strong fighting record in the UFC and is its current champion in the lightweight division. He was pretty sure of himself because of this and was loud about it.

From the time of the official announcement, McGregor was the most vocal between the two figthers. He did the preponderance of the trash talking as they traded off barbs with one another throughout the lead-up to the fight. Even in the early rounds, he was holding his hands behind his back to goad Mayweather. For someone who doesn’t follow either sport, he seemed more confident in his abilities, even if he was the underdog.

In This Corner: Competence

Competence is the actual ability to do something successfully or efficiently. Floyd Mayweather Jr., was the fighter with a proven track record in the boxing arena. He had a record of 49-0. He was quite competent.

Although he had a lot of competence, he was a little rusty. He’d been in retirement for two years. Because of this, he didn’t have as much confidence going into the fight as he probably did years ago. In all the interviews I watched between the two fighters, he seemed quieter and less certain of himself than his counterpart. He knew he was one of the great fighters, he knew he had the abilities, but he wasn’t sure if it was enough.

The Match

As I sat watching the actual fight. I was watching two confident and competent men. What was interesting, though, is that as the fight got past the first three rounds, Mayweather’s competence in boxing started boosting his confidence. He was getting bolder and taking the offensive. At the same time, McGregor started to show fatigue and his confidence waned as he got deeper into the fight. His gusto and bravado disappeared. By the ninth round, he was hugging Mayweather and looking up at the clock, trying to wait it out until he could get a break. His fighting strategy changed from winning to not getting knocked out.

This wasn’t just a shift in momentum. Competence was beating Confidence. And in the tenth round, Competence won.

Competence is Almost Always More Important Than Confidence at Work

Unfortunately, most of us have the wrong opinion about how important confidence really is.

We see examples of highly confident individuals who are extremely successful and we think it’s because of their confidence that they are successful. But did you ever consider that maybe it’s because they were successful that they became confident?

I’m sure most of you remember the story of when Michael Jordan didn’t make the varsity basketball team his sophomore year of high school. He was really good, but not tall enough and he wasn’t able to dunk at that time. No matter how high his confidence level was, it wasn’t enough. He had to get better. He was talented, but he needed to hone his talent. He needed to become more competent. And that he did, in dramatic fashion. Within two years, he turned into a McDonald’s All-American and the rest, as they say, is history.

The truth is, behind almost every highly successful person is a lot of hard work. Sure, they have to have some confidence to even dare to try, but they also need a lot of practice to truly become successful. Just as great athletes don’t just happen, neither do great speakers, great scientists, great engineers, great leaders, or great innovators. Often we just don’t know the whole story behind their success. All we know about them is how confident they are now and so we assume it’s their confidence that got them to where they are today.

As a matter of fact, being highly confident can actually work against you if it’s not based on reality. Why, you ask? Because it actually undermines the motivation to put in the effort that’s needed if you aren’t already highly competent.

For example, let’s say you are a highly confident in your speaking and presentation abilities. You are asked to deliver a speech on something you don’t have a lot of knowledge about and you accept the opportunity. With a high level of confidence, you are sure you can do it. No problem. So you don’t do any significant amount of research on the topic and you don’t really practice what you’re going to say. Your just confident you’ll do fine. How well do you think you’ll perform?

That’s right, you’re probably not going to do very well. This under-performance is going to hurt your reputation with those who asked you to present. With any luck, it will also take a bite out of your confidence and put you back into reality on how competent you see yourself. I say “with any luck” because you can only get better if you have a truer sense of how good you actually are.

Back to the Fight

I’m sure there were other elements to McGregor’s loss. But at least part of it was due to his level of competence. He likely trained a lot, but he may not have trained with the same level of intensity. Because of his confidence, he didn’t completely appreciate that he wasn’t as competent at boxing as his opponent was. His confidence wasn’t going to be enough to win the fight, though it did carry him a lot further than it would have for others with less confidence.

He was under the impression that his natural talent, youthful energy, and self-belief would carry the day. But by the fourth round, it became clear to him that he should have worked harder and trained more. By then, it was too late.

How Your Confidence and Competence Plays Out in the Job Search

You should demonstrate your competence in your resume. Employers are primarily interested in hiring people who will be competent at their job. They want someone who has acquired the skills they need to be successful in their company. They want someone who is willing  to learn and work hard. The only way to figure all this out is by looking at each of the candidates’ track records – their resume. Is your resume showing how you’ve gained in your competence levels? Does it show that you mastered something and because of that you took on new responsibilities? Does it show how your knowledge, skills, abilities, and attitude are what the employer needs? If not, you might think about either rewriting your resume yourself or getting assistance from a professional so that it does. Just make sure you’re not over-selling. You want to be honest, otherwise the employer will feel like they just hired someone who didn’t live up to the hype (sort of like the people who bet on Conor McGregor on Saturday night).

When it’s time to interview, this is where confidence and competence both come into play.  Once employers read your resume and like what they read, they want to meet you. They expect you to have some level of confidence that you can do what you say you can do on paper. But to be confident in an interview, you have to be competent at interviewing. It’s a skill that you need to master, just like everything else. There are two paths to gaining interview skills. The first is to go through one job interview after another and learning from each what you did right and what you could do better for the next time. It’s the painful path because you’ll likely be rejected many times. Ironically, this doesn’t do your confidence any good, but hey, you’re getting more competent! The other path is to get practice using professional assistance. Getting honest feedback from the experts  on how you can improve and then practicing on those pieces of advice is a short-cut to learning on your own. This way, in the next real job interview you have, you’re walking in with both confidence and competence.

However you decide to improve yourself as you are seeking a new job or career, we are rooting for you! Be the best of both worlds, someone who is highly skilled and confident in their abilities. One without the other isn’t going to cut it.

About Us

At RockIt Career Consultation Services, our mission is to help you discover your true strengths and use these strengths to set your course to something more rewarding and exciting in your career.

We will guide you on what job or career best suits you and then help you market yourself through your resume, your networking strategies, your interview skills, and your negotiation to ensure that you are doing something you love and are maximizing your earning potential. Throughout, we will be there to keep you motivated and determined.

We’d love to help you launch your career and encourage you to learn more about the services we can provide you on your path to a more prosperous future. With our help, you will become the applicant every company wants to hire!