One of the things that I've believed consistently since I started college was that I knew better than a lot of people about a lot of different things. Looking back at those college days, I suppose I might have known better for a few things, but mostly I was just idealistic and didn't know any better that I didn't know better.
As one gets older and experiences life, it could be argued that you do, in fact, know better. Professionally, it's the thing that can prop up your confidence and aid your decision making skills. Success means different things to different people, but we can likely agree that it generally involves execution with a positive result.
For me, different jobs have yielded different results. In some cases, knowing better has made me happier and more successful. In other jobs, I've found it impossible to turn knowing better into doing better. The thing that really shakes my confidence, however, is that if I really knew better, I could be doing it on my own, or in the context of my day job. When I'm not doing that, it doesn't feel good.
What makes that feeling worse is seeing people who have managed to skate along, not having a clue about anything. I worked for a couple of guys a few years ago that were total failures in the company they owned. Sure, they managed to keep paying their own bills, but their customers hated them, they experienced massive turnover in their staff (or couldn't afford to pay them, in my case), and just generally sucked at life. I've also worked in companies where individuals contributed little to their product development beyond being "visible" to managers.
So what do you do with that shaken confidence? You might ask yourself if you're legit, or just a big phony. If you really do know better, you can do better if you choose to do so. That's simple, right? Yeah, it's as simple as knowing you have to lose weight and just doing it. If it really were that simple, we'd all have awesome abs.
I'm processing these kinds of feelings a lot lately. The course of action is actually pretty obvious in my case: Change the situation. If I can do better, it starts with enabling that kind of execution by looking for where change is possible. That can be uncomfortable and time consuming, but the end result can also be rewarding. I have to keep that in mind. I've been there before.