Interpersonal understanding is something most of us think we are better at than we actually are. To a degree, making unrealistic assumptions is probably helpful. Imagine a world where every time we ran into someone, we were confronted with just how little we knew about them, and how very different they might be from us. Imagine further that we felt compelled to understand them better before we could trust them enough to work with them. In such a world, we might get to know our coworkers really well, but working with anyone new would require quite a bit of time. When would we get around to the actual work at hand? Self-awareness involves developing and maintaining an accurate view of your strengths and development needs, particularly related to how you come across to the people you work with. Developing self-awareness is not a straightforward process.
Well-being is one of those concepts that have about as many working definitions as there are people thinking on the topic. So before going too far, I want to make sure we are working from the same definition. At its most basic level, well-being can be defined as having a sense of contentment in how one is doing, lately and in life generally. Note that this definition relates less to how you are actually doing and more to how you feel about how you are doing. If you know someone who seems endlessly dissatisfied even though they seem to have it all, or if you know someone who always seems chipper no matter what life throws at them, you have seen this distinction firsthand. Researchers use the term subjective well-being to make this point. They also note that contentment has two sides: positive emotions and the absence of negative ones
To develop your self-confidence, consider setting a specific personal goal to periodically pursue activities requiring you to go beyond the bounds of your prior experience and expertise: your “comfort zone.” I recommend activities for which failing is not associated with any dire consequences, such as people’s lives or the fate of the organization being at risk. (If everything you can think of feels risky to you, you may need to first work on challenging your own assumptions about risk: “What, realistically, is the worst that could happen here, and if it did, how bad would the consequences really be?”) Be cautious about taking on things that seem truly impossible. It’s better to find things that merely seem very difficult.
A good strategy for spotting great self-development role models is to identify people who seem to maintain an even-temperedness despite having roles that seem highly stressful. Another good source is people who seem to take genuine joy in their work, or at least complain much less about it than everyone around them. Find an opportunity to pick their brain, have them walk you through how they approach their work, and ask them how they keep a level head.