Sometimes fear and lack of confidence stop us. But the only way to overcome them is to just do it!
Mica May, Director of Stopcocks Women Plumbers talks about confidence and competence.
Just do it may feel like a very obvious statement, but we’re contacted by women all the time who want to plumbers, who’ve excelled in their training in college and who believe they can only ‘do’ plumbing after they have either gained more qualifications or watched other plumbers do plumbing.
Second point first: there are plenty of videos on YouTube to watch people do plumbing. But the truth is, we don’t learn by watching, we learn by doing, so just do it.
First point: A qualification is not what gives you the competence to work as a plumber. Going out there and plumbing and gaining skills is what does that. A qualification just demonstrates you’ve got those skills. So, just do it.
Of course we agree that having qualifications to demonstrate that you are fully competent is great and we encourage everyone to do this. But time and time again women say to us that they have to get more* training, or watch more plumbers or get another qualification when what they actually really need is the confidence to just do it.
And the only way to gain that confidence is through doing it; plumbing in people’s houses. Coming across the million and one things you’ve never seen before and fixing them.
Of course it’s scary.
Whenever we learn something new we go through a cycle. Sadly, the way this cycle and the human brain work is that it’s not until we’ve fully learned it that we have confidence we’ve learned it at all.
This is why giving up before the end is so common when anyone learns a new skill.
It’s actually a much more difficult process for people who’ve been skilled at something else when they learn something new. They forget they went through a time of not fully understanding before they became expert and expect to be as brilliant at doing the newly learned skill as they are at something they’ve been doing for years.
It goes like this; we don’t know what we don’t know, so we can have a level of confidence that we will be able to learn those new things. This is called the stage of ‘Unconscious Incompetence’
Next however, we begin to know what we don’t know and that is really really scary and we feel totally deskilled.
This stage has two parts though. The first is ‘Conscious Incompetence’. We know what we don’t know, and it’s huge. This is not a good time to just do it, we don’t know enough yet*.
The stage we don’t notice because it feels very like Conscious Incompetence is ‘Conscious Competence’. In this stage we have already learned a huge amount, but because we don’t know it ‘in our bones’, we don’t feel as though we know it. We don’t give ourselves credit for all we have learned, how far we have come and what we actually can do by now. We have to very consciously remind ourselves of what we’ve learned to be able to use our new knowledge, we have to very carefully look at each situation and work out how to deal with it. We don’t have confidence because we don’t have any certainty on our knowledge.
At this point you are actually capable of a lot of plumbing. You can put what you’ve learned into practice but it is really helpful to have someone that you can check out each thing you’re going to do with so that you can evaluate a) whether it’s the right thing and b) just how much you actually know.
The final stage, of knowing what you know is called ‘Unconscious Competence’. This is the stage when you actually feel confident, because you don’t have to dredge information out of your brain, you just understand. You know. You are confident that you can find the answers and that you have the skills to rise to any challenge.
It can take years to get here and you can only get here through experience. Qualifications will help you feel validated but you can’t get them without experience either.
At Stopcocks Women Plumbers we will hold your hand while you go through those stages of Conscious Incompetence and Conscious Competence.
If you want to be a self-employed plumber, independent but not alone, we have a whole system of mentoring that will enable you to progress and reach the stage of easy confidence; Unconscious Competence.
Our programme of phone and in person mentoring holds your hand and supports you while you gain your skills and become competent. You’re part of a community of like-minded women plumbers who totally ‘get’ you. You have what you need to become confident.
Self-employment is not for everyone, but that’s a whole other blog**.
If you are on your journey to become a plumber and are looking for a way to continue on and gain skills, confidence and competence contact us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
*We don’t recommend that anyone just goes out and ‘does’ plumbing without any training. We’re talking about the gap between college, qualification and working.
**About how we can help you gain work.