‘Not a single person in this world knows what they’re doing. We’re all just winging it.’

When I was in my sophomore year of college, I was having an existential moment with an older, wiser friend of mine.

I was stressing over how I was supposed to figure out how to find a job after graduation, afford a house one day, meet my future wife, and a plethora of other overwhelming thoughts not uncommon to worry about as a young adult.

He turned to me and said, “Zach, let me tell you something: Not a single person in this world knows what they’re doing. We’re all just winging it.”

I’ve never forgotten that moment. Here was my friend — an accomplished scientist with a Ph.D. — admitting that he didn’t have any clue what he was doing. He was just taking it day by day, figuring things out as he went along.

He gave me the single best piece of advice I’ve ever received. And over the years, I grew to understand what he meant: The most successful people own this humility and believe in the chances they take.

All people need are:

  • Validation: You are qualified. You just need to talk to the right person who highlights your skills to build up your confidence.
  • Permission: Apply for that job. Talk to your manager about that promotion. You get from life what you have the courage to ask for.
  • Motivation: I did it. I have college degrees irrelevant to my profession and no previous industry experience. Someone simply believed in me, which empowered me to believe in myself.

So, believe in yourself. Apply for that senior or leadership position. Transition into that field you think you can’t break into.

Make the leap this week. After all, what do you have to lose?

Zach Allison is a Recruiting Manager for the permanent placement finance and accounting practice at Robert Half. He holds a Master’s degree in philosophy and comes from a teaching background with over 10 years of experience. Based in Denver, CO and passionate about helping others, he pivoted from teaching to recruiting to help candidates navigate their careers and to help Robert Half clients find the very best talent in the greater Denver area. Zach regularly shares his insights on careers and philosophy through LinkedIn and published articles. Follow Zach on LinkedIn.