Whenever I introduce myself as a Strategist, people give me the “what the hell does that mean” look. I get it – the role of a strategist is pretty loosely defined. Even within a leading creative agency, it’s not always cut-and-dried.
Strategists tend to be big thinkers, we’re eager to improve things, eager to make a difference. Because of that, we experience some major highs and lows. Our job is a perpetual roller coaster of victories and defeats. This requires thick skin, a short memory and a lot of confidence. It can be a bumpy ride, but we fight the good fight because we love what we do.
I had the opportunity to talk to a Leadership Guru about some of the challenges that come along with being a strategist. More specifically, how the job can effect confidence over time. He showed me some ways to visualize and influence those challenges. I found his advice really helpful, so I wanted to share my experience. This isn't just for Strategists, anyone can benefit from this exercise.
This first sketch contrasts the ideal level of confidence (90% - 99%) with the reality of the confidence roller coaster we all ride. Sometimes it helps to think about the horizontal axis (time) as a series of projects you've worked on, filled with the highs and lows that come along with all the victories and defeats.
The goal of this visualization is to increase confidence over time by closing the gap between the two lines. Obviously, the lines will never be exactly the same, but the closer our reality roller coaster is to our ideal state, the more confident we can be in our contribution to the project.
How do we close the gap between the lines? This next sketch is an example from my own experience, you may find different factors or leverage points that effect your cycle.
I chose clarity, inclusion and contribution as my key leverage points. By increasing any one of these, confidence also increases. The inverse also holds true, if any one of these decreases, so does confidence.
For example, if I start to feel my confidence slip, I could counter that by clarifying my role within the team. This would lead to more inclusion, an increase in contribution and, you guessed it, a boost in confidence.
Of course it's not that simple, there are hundreds if not thousands of factors that come into play. The goal here is to better understand what those factors are and why this cycle happens. Only then can we tweak the leverage points and improve confidence over time.
Try it out. Grab some paper, sketch out your own version and see what you think. I'd love to hear where you land. Feel free to ask questions or share your progress in the comments.