Humble Confidence Gets You Through Challenges

1024 576 David DeWolf

Humble confidence will get you through the inevitable challenges you’ll face, both in business and in life.

President Eisenhower once said, “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.” The confident leader is able to adapt in real time. The confident leader reacts to roadblocks and adjusts in a way that ensures success.

The only certainty is change, and the confident leader will embrace that change and see it as an opportunity to lead.

When I made the decision to turn 3Pillar from a small, independent consultancy–a boutique business–into a leader in the product development space, I believed strongly that products are best built by co-located teams that exist with everybody in the same place. The theory was that the most innovative and highest quality software was built by small SWAT teams with high-performing individuals who worked together side-by-side, in the same room. This allowed team members to understand the business context, to embrace change more quickly, to react to customer feedback, and to communicate effectively.

My experience had been that attempts to use distributed teams–especially offshore teams–were a recipe for disaster.

As we started to grow, the market demanded a different model than what I believed to be right. We struggled to retain clients past an initial project or two. Our clients would have loved to build high-performing teams that were co-located right there with them. The reality, though, was that the extremely high cost associated with that model was simply not sustainable. Our clients needed to sustain innovation.

Our clients could not afford the model for longer than three, six, or nine months, but they couldn’t afford not to sustain innovation either–that’s absolutely required when you’re building a product.

So we pivoted. We made a change.

Without humble confidence, I wouldn’t have been able to face this challenge and respond to the feedback that I had heard from others. (There’s the humility piece–being able to listen and change your own ideas.)

I didn’t give up on the vision of becoming a leader in the product development services space; I changed the plan and the route that we were going to take to get there. I embraced it and had the humble confidence to say, “You know what? I think I was wrong!”

Humble confidence allowed us to incorporate this market adjustment, apply the principles of communicating effectively, and use customer feedback. We were able to succeed with different models of innovating.

Without this humble confidence in action, I’m convinced we would still be a small boutique project firm, chasing ourselves, chasing our tails, one project after the next after the next.

By tackling the challenge we faced with humble confidence, we were able to create a distributed model that brought the best of both worlds together and propelled us to 650 employees worldwide, something I never imagined or expected.

Humble confidence allows you to plow through the roadblocks, even if it requires changing your own perspective. It will get you through the challenges you’re sure to face.