Confident? Yes or No?

I respect people who exude confidence.  I am also suspicious of them.  People who seem confident all the time in every situation are often masking insecurity.  When I encounter extremely confident people I look for the smallest indication that they lack confidence in at least one thing deep inside; when I see that, I get along with them just fine.  I am uncomfortable around them until I find that balance.  Cynical?  Maybe.  Realistic? Yes.

Without an ounce of arrogance I can tell that I am good at what I do at work.  Good, however, is a relative term.  My primary job is writing, editing and producing ‘imaging’ for a local radio station.  Imaging is the term used to describe those things you hear between songs or in short commercials promoting the radio station.  I am not the most creative guy doing this kind of work but I know a good idea when I hear one and I am pretty good at adapting those ideas to my local situation.  I am also good at the ‘total package’ stuff … dependability, enthusiasm, willingness to get the job done., blah blah blah.

One of my new corporate-level projects is networking with other ‘imagers’ within the company and across the country.  I have been collecting audio samples of their work for the past two weeks and today I finally listened to their work and produced a montage/mash-up/sampler of selected pieces.  Damn, they’re good!  And my ego took a bath.

Let me back up a minute … I have a lot of confidence in what I do.  I receive praise for it.  My talent led to these corporate responsibilities.  I also know that there are many people in the company who make better ‘imaging’.  Listening to examples from thirty-two different radio stations this evening proved that to my ears.  And shook my confidence a little.  This is a typical pattern for me.

My first reaction to hearing all this awesome stuff, elements that are crisper, cleaner and more fun than much of mine, is depression.  Damn, they’re good!  Didn’t I already say that?  My second reaction in these situations, fortunately, is my strong desire to step up my game and make things that match or exceed theirs.  That begins tomorrow.

I’ve been down this road before.  Every advancement in my decades-long career began with a dip in confidence followed by turning the experience into a learning opportunity.  Stumbling and getting up is how we learn, isn’t it?  I know my strengths.  And my weaknesses.  My favorite Dirty Harry line is, “A man’s got to know his limitations.”  I also believe a man or woman has to view those limitations as hurdles to jump over and not walls to block them.

The cynical side of my personality points out that sometimes I and my peers create these audio pieces to impress each other and often ignore the obvious point that someone listening to them on the radio might not get the message.  What I heard this evening, however, were examples of genuinely creative and effective ‘imaging’ for numerous radio stations.  My stuff is OK, but some of theirs is better.  I have my work cut out for me.  I am confident I’ll figure it out.