When we lack confidence in ourselves and in our abilities, we are less effective as Vetrehabbers, or veterinary rehabilitation therapists. We don’t communicate well with our clients, our patients are not as responsive to our treatments, and we are less likely to step out and believe in the change we can make for the patient in front of us. We are less likely to take a chance on the hopeless, to bring light in the darkness.
Is your confidence real, or a mask?
Confidence is one of those keywords like ‘consistency’ that we hear over and over again is the key to success or failure. ‘Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you are right,’ we are told. How much truth does this hold? And where exactly does it’s truth lie?
We’ve also been told to ‘fake it till you make it’ – to behave as if we’re confident until eventually we are. For those of us who are familiar with imposter syndrome, this advice is not helpful. After years of ‘faking-it’, all you feel is like a fraud. And if honesty and integrity are core values you live by, then this is only going to decrease your belief in yourself over time.
We have spoken before about the Dunning-Kruger effect, and how confidence and skill can be linked in a less than ideal way. For those who don’t know it, the Dunning-Kruger effect is the tendency for less knowledgeable and capable people to believe they are more knowledgeable and capable than they really are. The less a person knows, the more they tend to think they know. The converse is also true; the more knowledge we have, the less confident we feel, as we realise the huge expanse of what there is to know and how little of it we actually do know.
So if you’re feeling a slight lack of confidence – it may indicate that you do know quite a bit!
When confidence is a liability
There is such a thing as feeling too confident. If we are confident without skill, without knowledge – if our confidence lies in our own inflated idea of ourselves instead of on a solid foundation – then our confidence poses a massive risk to the wellbeing of our patients. Our confidence becomes a liability, and can be better described as arrogance.
“Confidence is when you believe in yourself and your abilities; arrogance is when you think you are better than others and act accordingly.” Stewart Stafford
When confidence improves patient outcomes
When our confidence is grounded in years of learning, of constantly developing new knowledge and abilities, we begin to form the kind of confidence that helps and does not hinder. Owners listen when we speak, they believe what we have to say, and their compliance improves.
They trust our advice and our approach, and become loyal advocates of our service.
Our patients feel calm and relaxed in our presence because our confidence grounds us and frees us to focus on the job at hand. They respond to our guidance and leadership because we instill trust in them.
Veterinarians and other members of the rehabilitation team have confidence in us and our abilities, sharing cases, discussing questions, and brainstorming solutions together with us.
“Confidence isn’t optimism or pessimism, and it’s not a character attribute. It’s the expectation of a positive outcome.” Rosabeth Moss Kanter
Building our confidence on a foundation of knowledge
How do we build our confidence on strong foundations? How can we ensure that we remain humble and honest, while still being confident? How can we avoid arrogance? Most of all, how can we best benefit our patients by developing our confidence?
“Skill and confidence are an unconquered army.” George Herbert
Our confidence must be built on ever-increasing knowledge and skill; only then does it hold value for our patients and for ourselves.
Here are a few pointers that will help develop confidence as we increase our knowledge and skills:
- Use self-affirmations. There are enough people telling you that you aren’t good enough – don’t be one of them! Affirmations can help you stand firm in the face of adversity.
- Persistence and consistency are incredibly important. When you are faced with failure, with patients that don’t improve, be persistent. Keep trying, never give up. Failure is an opportunity for you to expand your skills and knowledge, and to increase your effectiveness. Don’t let them keep you down.
- Find a mentor. Together we are stronger.
- Practise, even when you feel you have mastered a technique. The more you practise a technique well, the more fluent and effective you become, and the more your mind is freed from performing the task.
- Be deliberate, set goals for yourself and make sure you are always working to improve and grow your ability.
- Be mindful. Be aware of your strengths and weaknesses. Constantly re-assess and focus on strengthening weak areas.
- Never stop learning. Above all, continue to learn, to seek knowledge and to expand your skill set.
- Celebrate success with a graduation wall. We should be celebrating every small and big achievement we have. Creating a graduation wall featuring photos of the patients you have treated will remind you of what you have accomplished when you are faced with a challenging situation or case.
“Confidence comes from hours and days and weeks and years of constant work and dedication.” Robert Staubach
Are you ready?
Are you ready to carry yourself with confidence? Confidence borne of your experience, practice, knowledge, and ever-deepening skill? Confidence borne of overcoming adversity? Confidence borne of successes and failures? Confidence that will transfer to your patients, clients and rehabilitation team?
Then you are ready to change the lives of countless patients.
“Confidence comes from discipline and training.” Robert Kiyosaki
Join the Vetrehabbers Mentorship program. To sign up, go to the featured section in any of the Vetrehabbers Facebook Communities – Small Animal Vetrehabbers, Equine Vetrehabbers, Hydro Vetrehabbers, Business Vetrehabbers – and follow the instructions.
If you would like to truly build your confidence and banish imposter syndrome, join us live at the Vet Rehab Summit 2022. Katie Ford will be presenting a full workshop on this topic.