Capability vs Confidence

­­For the past week I’ve had one question on mind: can I facilitate?

There are so many things I’d need to be capable of in order to answer that question with a resounding ‘yes!’. I’d need to be able to structure a workshop, include engaging activities at the right times (along with a beautifully clear activity brief), tell fascinating stories that make a key point, handle tricky questions and (God forbid) tricky people, not to mention keeping all 52 Wrules of World-class Workshops. And do all of that whilst keeping to time.

The lone journey to Falmouth

Spending a week on Expedite, Interactive Workshops’ facilitation fast-track, reminded me of the first train journey I ever took on my own. I was 16 and considering options for university. Of the 20+ prospectuses I’d collected, Falmouth looked the best. It was only when I sat flicking back through the Falmouth prospectus that I discovered the Falmouth open day was… tomorrow. Through some last minute planning help from my Dad, I got myself set for a journey from Banbury to Falmouth all planned out. Except 16-year-old me wasn’t living in a world of jumping on the tube, grabbing an Uber or making a 4+ hour journey north to see the in-laws. I didn’t even have the keen interest in trains that my brother had. I’d never been further than the neighbouring village on my own. I was bricking it. I had no idea whether I was going to successfully get to Falmouth.

How would I know where in the station to go? How would I know which platform? And would I remember all my stuff? Would I manage to get onto the right train, at the right time, and not lose anything along the way?

Capability or Confidence?

Was I capable of getting myself to my goal successfully in the end? Of course (…thanks Dad). But did I have confidence I would make it at the start? Not at all. Maybe my confidence grew as I travelled along the south coast. The question I’ve really been asking myself is not ‘can I…?’ but ‘am I confident that I can…?’

Being able to achieve a goal and having confidence you are able to achieve that goal are two very different things. We see this in the IW design studio all the time. Can we handle the design of that brochure you need? Of course. Our designers spent years earning degrees in Graphic Design and they can produce expertly refined work in their sleep. But are we confident we can? That is all dependant on the time available, the quality of the brief, the feedbacks we’ve been given, and the availability of the person who set the brief. Most of the time, yes, we’re confident. But it’s an entirely different question to whether we’re capable.

The question I’ve really been asking myself is not ‘can I…?’ but ‘am I confident that I can…?’


What I learnt this week was that if you consider yourself able to do it (capability), you can trust that you can do it (confidence). You will do it. You don’t need an exhaustive knowledge of the south western railway network to be confident you’ll get to Falmouth. And you don’t need to know Cialdini’s Six Principles of Persuasion inside out to be a confident facilitator. If you’re capable, know you’re capable. Suddenly, you’re confident.

Actually, through Expedite I proved to myself I can structure a workshop, introduce engaging activities, tell interesting stories, land a key point and handle tricky people. I’ll now confidently say ‘I can facilitate’. I’ll keep working on doing all of that to time…