When I meet with my consulting clients to talk about challenges they’re facing in their businesses, there is one single core issue that’s at the heart of almost any problem. And that’s a lack of self-confidence. It keeps people from doing their best work, from reaching out to the perfect prospective client, from charging what they’re worth for their services. It holds them back from success!
We all struggle with our confidence at times, but it’s how we respond to those moments that really makes the difference! Do you feel like I am talking to you? Let’s do a quick quiz to see where you are on the confidence spectrum:
Do you do what you think is right, even if others mock or criticize you for it? Or do you make a lot of your decisions based on what other people think?
Are you willing to take risks? Or are you too afraid of failure to move out of your comfort zone?
Do you admit your mistakes and learn from them? Or do you try to cover up mistakes and hope no one notices?
Are you comfortable telling others about your skills and strengths? Or do you wait for other people to point out your accomplishments?
Are you great at graciously accepting compliments? Or do you start protesting or downplaying the compliment?
I think you see where I’m going here. If you identify more with the second question in each paragraph above, you have confidence issues – and I’ll guarantee it’s impacting your success at work.
After all, how can you “sell yourself” to someone and convince them that you are the perfect person that they need to hire if you can barely recognize your own skills and specialties? How can you take the risks required to get your business to the next level if you don’t have the confidence to make the first move? And how are you going to ever be happy – with yourself and with your life – if you can’t stop worrying about what others think?
Part of getting into the confidence zone takes some practice and role play. Some would call this the “fake it till you make it” idea. But I don’t think it’s fake. You are talented. You are unique. You have something to offer. And by pushing yourself to “play” confident until you start to really feel more confidence it’s really fake. It’s more like practice. Rarely is anyone good at something without a lot of practice, right? And most people haven’t been “practicing” confidence. So you have to put your shoulders back, hold your head high, and pretend you’re wearing a crown! You have to stride confidently into a room, look people in the eye, and act like you are the world’s best at what you do. It’s an odd thing, but even just projecting confidence will actually make you feel more confident about yourself. It just takes practice. It’s at the core of the book Presence by Amy Cuddy, who says that taking those “power stances” gives you a hormonal boost that makes you feel more confident!
But you also have to stop fearing failure. You have to be willing to try new things and to take risks – even small ones. Because you will learn new things as you fall and get back up. You will have successes too, and both things will give you more confidence! So today, write down 2 things that will get you out of your comfort zone, either personally or professionally. And then make a commitment to do those 2 things right now.
We also need to stop thinking we have to be perfect at everything. There is a difference in excellence and perfection. There’s nothing wrong with having high standards. But there has to be a point where we really believe we tried our best and our outcome is not only good enough, but that it’s actually great! That’s not arrogance. It’s important for happiness, joy and fulfillment. We have to be able to be satisfied with our work. Too often we won’t try something unless we believe we will do it absolutely perfectly. Well that’s just not going to happen in every situation, so get over that perfectionism and get out of your comfort zone! That’s where the good stuff is – where the great new ideas come from.
Finally, and this is probably the biggest thing you can do, you have to get rid of that inner “mean girl.” You know the one – she’s constantly telling you that you aren’t good enough, that you don’t have what it takes, that you’re stupid, and really not worthy of success. Would you let anyone talk to your daughter or your best friend that way? Then why do you allow that voice to talk to you like that?!? It’s the worst form of self-abuse and you have to commit to stopping it today.
That inner voice also tends to whisper to you what others think of you, too. It’s a complete waste of time to worry over what others think of you or what they say about you. Often they aren’t even thinking or saying anything about you, they are too busy being a “mean girl” to themselves. Trust me on this one. And yes there are a few out there who really do think or say negative things about you. So what! I am perfectly aware that I have people out there who may not like me or believe in me. We all do. And if you are putting yourself out there, leaning into your potential or taking risks to be your best, somebody is not going to like it. But my favorite saying for situations like that is that “What people think of me is none of my business!!” They are entitled to their opinions but I don’t have to hear them! Everyone and everything has detractors, but it doesn’t make any sense to pay attention to them. We have to remember that we are each on our own paths and we can’t let others knock us down or push us off the path or we will never become all we were meant to be!
Instead of hearing those naysayers, focus on your cheerleaders and supporters. They’ll help remind you of why you’re so special, unique, and fabulous. Because YOU ARE! Now get out there and show the world what you’ve got!