The Difference Between Confidence and Ambition for a Freelancer

Attitude can do a lot for a freelancer. As a group, the "culture" at an agency can make or break big contracts. Businesses love to see a creative agency with a solid grasp on who they are. For freelance writers and brand consultants, the same applies. But over selling yourself can ruin a relationship and any potential clients you could obtain through that network. So how, as a freelancer, do you appear competent without coming off as overly confident?

Artie Isaac on the Dangers of Self-employment

Artie Isaac organizes agenda-free peer feedback groups for CEOs, key executives, and business advisors. After selling his award-winning marketing company, he pursued a career as a consultant doing the things that helped him become a better business owner. He recently posted a self-deprecating piece on his blog about his own unemployability. In it, he writes:

After so many years of self-employment, I really think I could be your worst employee.

He really wouldn't be. But he does call out some of his own weaknesses and the dangers of working for yourself for too long. Yes, you can develop dangerous habits as a freelancer. The grass is always greener, as they say.

Confidence vs. Ambition

Some may think it's backward to call out your own weaknesses on your public blog, but that's because American business culture worships confidence. If you lack confidence in your ability to do the job perfectly, then you're seen as unemployable*. Businesses expect every potential employee to already possess the skills they need and to be able to get by without training.

That's wrong. It's also a topic for another blog post.

(*which is probably why Artie uses such an extreme word to describe himself.)

What we should be looking for is ambition. And in his follow-up blog, Artie talks about his desire to be a better peer leader / husband / person. He recognizes how he can grow and isn't afraid to talk about his personal journey with the people he's closest to (and the rest of the internet). We should all be as ambitious in our lives.

My Own Ambitions

In the spirit of Artie's post and to practice what I preach, here are my own ambitions:

  • I can be better at marketing myself. I'm a great editor and understand how to talk about what other people do, and I can learn how to do that better for myself.
  • I can learn how to tell clients when they have a bad idea. After all, they're paying me to have good ideas. I hope they'd do the same for me. And...
  • I can accept when I'm wrong. With grace.

I have ambitions as a freelance writer. Thankfully, it's okay to post about that on my professional site. Oh, and as an added bonus:

  • I can finally figure out what to do with my hair. 

Seriously, how do you look professional and be comfortable at the same time with wiry, wavy hair?