Thursday, June 7, 2012

Confidence as Facade

"I don't know if I'll make it, just watch how good I fake it." --Hot Chelle Rae

I have practiced confidence-as-facade for about as long as I can remember. I answer the question "Can we do that?" with "Why not?" I may not always be sure of myself, but I am smart enough to not cause too much trouble while pushing the proverbial envelope. That does not mean I am not internally screaming of terror, however. But if you don't try new things, how will you know if something will work or not?

When I write a post, I put a piece of myself "out there." It might be well-received, it might be torn to shreds, or it might just be floating in the interweb clouds. When I create a short film or an interpretive brochure or temporary exhibit, it might not seem that I am putting myself in a vulnerable spot, but I am. I do the best I can with what I have got. When people sense confidence, they expect a level of competency to match.

The biggest key to this success is understanding that I will make mistakes, but mistakes are learning opportunities. I currently am the lead for a few projects at work. Every morning as I cross the threshold of the cultural center, I hold my breath, convinced that today is the day I will be "found out." Somebody will sense my fear of failure and other vulnerabilities and I will be sent home. And every evening as I lock the gates of the park, I release that same breath, amazed that I have made it through the day with some version of progress. It might be slight progress but it is progression, nonetheless.

Flexibility may be the most important thing when working with the public. The public is made up of people and people are unpredictable. The public also trusts, wants to trust, in things like museums, archival collections, and national parks. They don't ask "do you know what you are doing?" they ask "what can I learn here?" They trust the uniformed smile, completely unaware that my wanting to do right means I am constantly questioning myself if how I am doing is the best way.

I write this as a disclaimer for future posts, as I know I will make statements that should be argued and picked apart. I will write with my confident facade, but don't want to sound like a pompous know-it-all. I would rather engage than preach.

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