A Balanced View of Self-Confidence
- September 05, 2019
- John M. Oldham, M.D.
BY JOHN M. OLDHAM, MD
If you score really low on Self-Confident style on The New Personality Self-Portrait does that mean you are woefully lacking in self-confidence? What about a really high score? Does that make you an over-the-top braggart?
Well, maybe…or, more likely, maybe not.
The Nine Characteristics
We selected names for all the styles based on a key feature among the many that define the style. Self-Confident style actually has nine defining characteristics:
- Self-regard – They believe in themselves.
- The red carpet – They expect to be treated well.
- Ambition – They are open about it.
- Politics – They are skilled and shrewd in their dealings with others.
- Competition – They love it.
- Stature – They identify with high-ranking people.
- Dreams – Their fantasies are rife with high status and accomplishment.
- Self-awareness – They are tuned into their thoughts and state of mind.
- Poise – They comfortably accept praise and admiration.
Your Self-Confident score reflects your measure of all these characteristics. But how this one style plays out in your entire Personality Self-Portrait reflects its relative position among all the styles.
The Low Score and the Whole Picture
Some people do indeed score close to zero on Self-Confident style, which may or may not come as a surprise to the way they habitually think of themselves. But I urge you to resist seeing low scores on positive-sounding styles as low marks on your character. Although at least a modest amount of the Self-Confident trait comes in handy in life, it turns out that plenty of people succeed in life with very little. It depends on what else your personality pattern has to offer by way of balance and fulfillment.
Evaluate your whole pattern. You may have a mix of prominent other styles, such as Conscientious + Sensitive + Serious, which could equip you for skill-based success even if you’re uncertain where to channel yourself for best results. Then again, with a lot of Idiosyncratic style, you may be artistic or spiritual and march happily enough to your own drummer. So consider your scores on all fourteen styles.
Partners and Teammates
Don’t stop there: Consider also the personality styles of the people you are close to. Many people gravitate to others who feature personality styles that complement their own. Devoted types, for example, may not be decisive or self-promoting since they put the needs of others over their own. But a Devoted type may team up with a life partner who has a lot of Self-Confident style, and the two will do just fine. On-the-job teams often balance out their effectiveness through such combinations of styles.
Some people have blazingly high scores on Self-Confident style, which can be a real strength. This type of person is often seen as a“born leader”—someone with innate talent and smarts but who also works hard and has a lot of good luck. People are naturally drawn to those with magnetic charm and self-confidence, and often for good reason, since Self-Confident types can be even more successful when they link up with motivated followers who are good team players.
Remember, self-awareness is one of the style’s nine component characteristics. When the expression of this style begins to get in the way of real accomplishment, however, and starts to impair relationships with other people, high-scorers on this style may well decide to try to rein in this aspect of their personality. But don’t forget: our personalities can change over time, and we can help that change along, if we want to, with practice, determination, time, and often with a little help.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
What happens when the self-confidence is truly over the top? You’ll see on the Personality Style/Personality Disorder Continuum graph that the trouble zone reflecting excessive self-confidence is called Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Here, grandiosity and unrealistic self-importance emerge, along with exploitation of others and insensitivity to their feelings, as well as disinterest in their views or goals. Now we’re no longer in the range of the normal style variations. When that happens, professional help may be indicated, although it is often the case that the person with the need does not see it and takes any suggestion to that effect as an insult.
Leadership and Personality
These days our country is riveted by the headlines about the behaviors of political leaders and other prominent figures. Their personalities have become subjects of seemingly endless Tweets and proverbial conversations at the water cooler.
On the personality thermometer for the Self-Confident style, where would you rate, for example, the plethora of candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination? My guess is you’d say they all register in the high range, but some more than others. And would some of them have you worried that they’d be at risk to become “intoxicated with power” if elected?
This is the subject of a fascinating book called The Hubris Syndrome by Lord David Owen, a peer in the House of Lords. It’s interesting to speculate about our headliners, in the spirit of trying to understand them as real people with real talents, and to consider which ones have the best personality profiles to do the job.