Even successful founders can start to lose confidence and prefer the confines of their comfort zones. Don't let it happen to you.
Do you ever feel like you don't have everything it takes to run your own business? Never mind that the evidence shows you're really pretty darn good at what you do?
I like to call this "imposter syndrome." It's when entrepreneurs lack confidence in spite of the success they've had. The worst part about it is they believe they are alone in their fears--that this problem is unique to them. The truth is that confidence is lacking in large numbers across the ranks of entrepreneurs and high achieving executives everywhere.
Those who struggle with confidence often build barriers that keep them from taking the emotional risks associated with business growth. The business owner will do only what is necessary to reach the boundary of their tolerance level, known as the comfort zone. They will manufacture many excuses to stay within those supposedly safe confines, even though so much more is possible.
Comfort zones come in all shapes and sizes, so for some, living within their comfort zone still allows for measured success and a steady income--even strong profits in many cases. But fear lurks outside the confines of the comfort zone keeping them from their greatest potential. For others, the dream remains a dream and tragically, may never see the light of day.
Here are some sure ways to boost confidence and break through the barriers of your not-so-comfortable comfort zone.
Recognize your strengths and successes.
It's common to diminish the significance of past wins when you are lacking in self-confidence. Make a list of your success stories--even if they date back to your high school days. Then note the qualities and skills that you tapped into to achieve your success. No sure but anyone could have done this statements allowed here. Concentrate only on the positive and unique aspects of your success.
Do it your way.
Do newsletters, social media updates, and the polished websites of your competitors and peers bring about feelings of inadequacy or jealousy? When I began building my coaching practice I subscribed to the list of every successful coach I could think of. I followed them on Facebook and monitored their tweets carefully. I'll admit it. This strategy turned from an education into a flurry of envy, fear, and doubt. So I took myself off of those lists and did it my way. That was the best decision ever. So take notice of how you feel as you read materials from people whose level of success you aspire to. If it's empowering, that's great. But if your body and brain feel stressed, hit that "unsubscribe" button.
Tell your story.
Join a leads group or another type of organized meeting that will give you the opportunity to tell people what you do. As you hone your pitch and begin to see a positive response you will gain confidence. It's easy to get into a rut, sitting behind the computer where your social interaction is limited to social media. Nothing beats eye contact and heads nodding to give you a shot of confidence.
We all carry memories of past failures and disappointment. These little treasures are the classroom of life.
Review those perceived failures and write down what you learned from them. How do you do things differently now? How have you grown? Release any related negative emotion by acknowledging the positive results you have garnered from these experiences.
Take in some praise.
When people praise your success, attitude, or personal qualities, how do you feel? Embarrassed? Humbled? Anxious? Do thoughts like, "it's really not a big deal" or "it's just common sense" go through your mind? If so, then push yourself way out of your comfort zone by doing this little exercise. Ask friends and family to create a list of all of the things they admire about you. If possible meet with them in person as they read their lists to you. Don't say a word, simply look them in the eye during this process and internalize what they have to say. You might just learn a few things about yourself.
These are some great beginning steps. Take action now and let me know how you do. What confidence boosters work for you? Share them with us here!
MARLA TABAKA is a small-business adviser who helps entrepreneurs around the globe grow their businesses well into the millions. She speaks widely on combining strategic and creative thinking for optimum success and happiness. @MarlaTabaka