The person who presents at the interview as super-confident and competent may not in fact be the right one for the job, writes Ultan Molloy

The summer just seemed to fly by in the end. Now the evenings are starting to close back in on us. At the time of this going to print, we’ll be well into September, and heading into another round of vaccinations with the annual flu vaccinations. It will be so much easier to manage single-shot vaccines and clinics for some than what we’ve had for the last few months with Covid vaccination clinics, although having made it through those challenging months, the future feels like it will be more manageable. Credit to my colleagues and our team. They’ve stepped-up, stepped-in, and stepped every other way that was asked of them. I feel both grateful and lucky as I write this.

Confidence and competence

Highly self-assured people, and I don’t include myself in that category, can present as confident, often leading us to assume (in the absence of evidence to the contrary, and perhaps due to our own ignorance) that they are competent. We can naturally find it difficult to trust in the competence of someone who presents as perhaps more vulnerable, humble, and questioning of themselves and their ability, when in fact they may
well be better able to fulfil a role where someone else may, due to being overly self-assured, be ignorant to their own incompetence, or for other reasons, present as confident and well able to fulfil said job.

Learning what an appropriate benchmark for behaviours, knowledge and skills in a particular job, and benchmarking against these, is an important antidote in these cases. I’m sure I’m not the only one of us who has hired people who have sold themselves well in interviews, only to be a disaster when they start working in the job. We hold them to account around their behaviours and what they deliver for our teams, patients and businesses. At least, we should be doing this.

A confident person in a job role is not necessarily a competent person in that job role

As I go back into my coaching and consultancy role from time-to-time, this area of self-assuredness in particular continues to both challenge and surprise me. As someone who is inclined to give myself a hard time, I do some excessive dismantling and ruminating, which is often less than helpful. The interview process, as well as past experience in organisations, and with individuals who have ‘done it before’, confidently, as opposed to competently, has me baffled with how one can get substituted quite readily for the other. A confident person in a job role is not necessarily a competent person in that job role.
The flip-side of this is, of course, inspiring confidence in our team members when engaging with patients. We must ensure they present as reasonably confident, when we know they are competent in terms of their training and knowledge, in order for them to be trusted by the patients. These patients need to feel assured and confident in the recommendations and information they’ve received, and part of ensuring this is that it’s delivered with confidence. All a work in progress.

‘I don’t want to die!’

Having repeatedly got upset to the point of tears over the last week because she wants “all the toys in the toy shop”, our five-year-old Rose declared recently: “I don’t want to die… never, never, never!” I said of course, that if that’s what she wants, then we will of course arrange for same, given that we didn’t have enough money at present to buy all the toys in the toy shop. Perhaps she won’t have to die in any case, mind you, with technology and medical advances, before she’s traditionally due to kick the bucket. I’ve another friend, assuming I’m still friends with Rose at the time of writing this, who has declared that he wants to live until he’s 800. He’s not joking, either. That’s quite an aspiration, isn’t it.

Yet we have so many people taking their own lives, and incidence rates have increased through the pandemic. A 40-year-old member of the Travelling community recently connected with us. He leaves behind a three-year-old and four other children who will have to make their peace with it.
No-one saw it coming. So many other stories of tragedy where people take their own lives. After Life, with Ricky Gervais, which we were watching recently, has suicide as a theme, and indeed an option through the series. The suicide of the lead singer with the Scottish band Frightened Rabbit, Scott Hutchison, means I now listen to his lyrics with different ears. Keith Flint of The Prodigy, whose music was part of the soundtrack to my formative years, took his own life at 49, and Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell at 52. Anyway, why the reminiscing? Well, as I contemplate being 45, I note that adults aged 45-to-64 have increasingly higher rates of suicide than other age groups.

I cannot understand how anyone would ever see this as an option. Sure, I’ve had dark days, more so in the past thankfully, but I know that for me, they’re always a temporary presence. The ‘black dog’ doesn’t follow me around. Just the 12-week-old puppy, Luna, whom we have decided to land into the chaos that is our home a couple of days ago. Luna doesn’t know her name yet, or where the toilet is.
Why I’m even going on about this I don’t really know, other than it feels like the greatest tragedy of all. We have people in our society who feel that taking their own life is their best option at a point in time. That the future doesn’t feel attractive enough for them to see it as more attractive than taking their own lives. Our Covid lockdowns have had their impact, and precipitated a number if suicides, I’m sure. They’ve kept some people alive, but were no doubt in part responsible for the deaths of others. We still have a lot of work to do for the living.

The wind that shakes the barley

What a film, eh? Brothers fighting, and killing one another, on opposite sides in the Irish War of Independence. Until this whole Covid situation, I never really understood how people from the same family could feel that strongly about something. I’ve since got a sense of it. Anti-vaccine ‘data’, conspiracy theories, and such like, all delivered with a ‘if you’re not with me, you’re against me’ kind

of vibe, haven’t helped some of my family relationships. Batshit crazy stuff, if I was to be polite about my thoughts on it. That’s not helpful now, is it? Anyway, coming from a point of feelings and emotive arguments, as opposed to any logical thinking process, really doesn’t work for me. Logic and emotions are uncomfortable bedfellows. Also, and somewhat ironically, arguing one’s point of view, rather than attempting to find middle ground based on understanding the other person’s point of view, leads to further entrenchment and polarisation of diverse opinions. Clearly more of a thinker than a feeler, which doesn’t often deliver the best possible relationship outcomes. Who would have thought!

Honestly, I’ve a very limited number of f@ks to give, and I’m trying to prioritise what’s most important to me, and allocate said f@ks accordingly. Bill Gates driving me around the place using nanobots in a vaccine would be the least of my concerns. Family, friends, work colleagues, patients and our businesses that support all of these are what I care about. Counting my blessings and trusting that if ever a day is descending into chaos and stress, that it’s a temporary situation, and we have so much to be grateful for. We’re not living in Afghanistan, and we’re still alive if we’re reading this, and are very privileged. “The future’s looking good to me… (clap, clap, clap)… I’m ready to go… I’m ready to go”, as our kids sang in their end-of-year show. Hope yours is looking good to you too. If it’s not, reach out, and start a conversation. Shit in our case is usually, and thankfully, just temporary and there are no doubt many positive and life-affirming options available to you.

Contributor Information

Ultan Molloy is a business
and professional performance
coach, pharmacist, facilitator and
development specialist. He works
with other pharmacists, business
owners and third parties to develop
business strategies. Ultan can be
contacted on 086 1693343.