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Carol Craig is the Centre's Chief Executive. She is author of The Scots' Crisis of Confidence, Creating Confidence: A Handbook for Professionals Working with Young People, The Tears that Made the Clyde: Well-being in Glasgow and The Great Takeover: How materialism, the media and markets now dominate our lives. Her latest book is Hiding in Plain Sight: Exploring Scotland's ill health. She is Commissioning editor for the Postcards from Scotland series. Carol blogs on confidence, well-being, inequality, every day life and some of the great challenges of our time. The views she expresses are her own unless she specifically states that they reflect the Centre's thinking.

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Posted 31/05/2005

When the Centre was launched a few months ago I was asked on to John Beattieís Saturday morning programme for Radio Scotland and during the discussion he insisted in calling me ĎScotlandís Confidence Tzarí. Since my book came out Iím often aware that people are watching me and registering my personal level of confidence. On a couple of occasions Iíve been mildly rebuked for saying anything self-critical. ďOf course youíre not disorganisedĒ scolded one woman as I scattered the contents of my handbag looking for keys, muttering under my breath. ďYou are a perfectly organised, confident womanĒ. But Iím not and no amount of affirmations to the contrary is going to make me one. ďDonít draw attention to your weaknessesĒ is another piece of advice Iíve been given by well-meaning friends. But Iím not budging on this. Organisation is not my strong point. Take one look at my desk, or my car, and youíll soon agree. But my version of confidence is not about being good at everything Ė that isnít possible. And it certainly isnít about pretending youíre good at everything as that just leads to defensiveness and a fear of making mistakes. My version of confidence is about being comfortable with the fact that as an individual you have strengths and weaknesses. In fact strengths and weaknesses are inextricably linked Ė by devoting time and attention to something you donít put time and attention into something else. So for me disorganisation is the downside of what I see as some of my biggest strengths Ė flexibility, resourcefulness and an ability to keep several things going at the same time. Without these skills I donít think Iíd ever have managed to get the Centre off the ground. Sure I have the capacity to use organisational skills up to a point but I have to slow down and in this mode Iím not as confident as when Iím being spontaneous and flexible. This is why my preference is to work closely with someone who is a born organiser Ė like Lynn, my new PA in the Centre, who effortlessly keeps things organised and under control.

So letís not see confidence as an all or nothing quality. Letís not make the mistake of believing that a person can only be confident if they feel confident all the time and concentrate instead on creating an atmosphere where people can play to their strengths and be confident enough to admit to weaknesses.

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