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I can't / could / can do it
Reflecting on the confidence spectrum
A simple nugget of advice I tell bright-eyed-bushy-tailed youngsters entering the workforce is to find something challenging and follow that path. You know you are advancing in your career if you feel perpetually challenged: you are doing something that is stretching your existing skillset, challenging your status quo, and, most importantly, redefining your belief of what you can do.
I’ve found that I constantly oscillate on a confidence spectrum of I can’t, I could, or I can. I’m sure most of you early-stage founders have felt the darkness of the “I can’t” moments: the ones in which you’re asking yourself why you left a stable job and believed that you could build something from scratch.
But, at some point, before that darkness, was a dawn in which you believed that you could build a company. You could make it work. That feeling of “being able” did not stem from runaway overconfidence, but instead quietly emerged from hope, curiosity, and excitement. It may have been built on a unique insight about a market or a technology breakthrough.
Believing that you could still does not mean that you can or will be able to do it (only time will tell). In startup-land, we’re all underdogs to the incumbent players and the countless variables against us. So, next time you feel that moment of “I can’t” creeping in, remind yourself that all an underdog needs is the belief that they could make it work.
Raman at Rhetoric