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With confidence.

Editor's Note: Following are excerpts from the keynote address delivered by newly elected AACN President Caryl Goodyear-Bruch, RN, PhD, CCRN, at the closing session of the 2008 National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition in Chicago, Ill. The full text with references is available online at > NTI.

People with confidence have great expectations. They are accountable and committed to improving themselves. They invite feedback and communicate more often. People with confidence are collaborators. They seek other confident people as partners and develop strong bonds with them. People with confidence possess initiative to do the things that matter. They believe they can make a difference and set high expectations of success in absolutely everything they do.

Everything must carry confidence. Think with confidence. Plan with confidence. Act with confidence. Apologize with confidence. Mourn with confidence. Celebrate with confidence. Reclaim priorities with confidence. The list is endless. So our theme for the coming year is "With Confidence."

The Sweet Spot

Confidence is an attitude that allows us to have a positive view of ourselves that is still realistic. Confident people trust their abilities. They have a sense of control over their lives. And they believe, within reason, they can do what they wish, plan and expect.

Rosabeth Moss Kanter at Harvard University said it well: "Confidence is the sweet spot between arrogance and despair." Arrogance is the habit of seeing no flaws. Despair is the ability of seeing only flaws. It leads to self-deprecating behaviors and failure.

Confidence motivates us to act. Why would we want to continue the same old actions? Remember this saying: "If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got." Confidence gives us the power to stop doing what we always did and try something new.

The Language We Use

What a difference each one of us can make one confident act at a time.

You might hear that annoying little voice inside you whispering "Sounds good. But don't forget, you're just a nurse." Have you noticed that we create our own reality because of the language we use?

So instead of "I'm just a nurse," let's make that "I am a good nurse; a confident nurse responsible for my patient's care." Sometimes you may feel like you're just a nurse. But as a nurse, you represent nursing. You reflect every strength, every weakness, every good and every bad aspect of nursing. So when you transform into your confident self, you transform nursing.

Moving Forward

So how do we move forward? We start by agreeing that confidence is never lost. It only gets misplaced. Let's consider some steps we can take to find our misplaced confidence. By the way, is a gold mine of resources for developing essential skills like self-confidence.

First, prepare yourself. What is really important to you? What have you already achieved? What do you really want to achieve?

Second, step out. Focus on the basics and set small goals that you can reasonably attain. For example, set a goal to physically portray confidence. Remember: Shoulders back. Head high. Mood positive. This is a small goal, but it's essential. Build the knowledge you need to succeed. Do you need assertiveness education? Or the ability to have a crucial conversation or confrontation? Get a partner and practice. Imagine your success by managing the self-talk. Dream the success by seeing it in your mind. Then live your success. When mistakes happen, recognize they are learning opportunities for how you can do it differently next time.

Third, accelerate your confidence. Set larger goals. Have crucial conversations. Create an environment that is best for you and therefore one that is best for your patients and their families.

When we meet at NTI in New Orleans next May, how will we know if our confidence quotient increased? Each of us will need to measure change according to what we set out to accomplish. The researcher in me wants to see dozens of NTI posters with evidence of our success.

Every month during the coming year I'll explore another slice of our theme in my AACN News column. I know that many of you already have stories of things you have done with confidence. Many more of you will have them as the year goes on. We need to hear your stories. And I want to tell them. The place to send them is:

I came across some timely words in a book by Marianne Williamson and adapted them to us: "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?"

The poet Anais Nin said that life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage. I believe that life shrinks or expands in proportion to our confidence. So let's go forward with great confidence to expand our lives and those of our patients and their families.


Caryl Goodyear-Bruch RN, PhD, CCRN
COPYRIGHT 2008 American Association of Critical-Care Nurses
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Title Annotation:President's Note: Reclaiming Our Priorities
Author:Goodyear-Bruch, Caryl
Publication:AACN News
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2008
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