Recently I enjoyed a conversation with friend and peer, Doris Helge, Ph.D. In a discussion about our group coaching programs, Doris stated that some coaches struggle in their own business due to a lack of confidence. Like the shoemakers' kids who are the last to receive new shoes, some coaches struggle with what they best inspire others to achieve: the confidence to bring their dreams to fruition.
Reflecting upon that conversation this morning reminds me that the lack of confidence issue is true for solopreneurs and solo practitioners everywhere, and isn't exclusive to coaches. The ironic part is that many of them believe they are the only ones struggling with the fears associated with a lack of confidence. Oftentimes, it isn't until they enter into a coaching relationship that they discover that confidence is lacking in large numbers across 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 border of their tolerance level, known as the comfort zone. They will manufacture many 'excuses' to stay within those safe confines - yet, 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 lack of confidence lurks outside 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 'ya but anyone could have done this' statements allowed here! Concentrate only on the positive and unique aspects of YOU!
- Do it your way! Determine if you need to stop reading the newsletters, social media updates and websites of your competitors and peers. Do they bring about feelings of inadequacy or jealousy? When I began building my practice I subscribed to the newsletters of successful coaches – just to see how they did it. I followed them on FaceBook and monitored their Tweets carefully. Well, this strategy turned from an education to a flurry of envy, fear and doubt. So I took myself off of those lists and did it my way – this was the best decision ever! So take notice of how you feel as you read materials from people whose success you aspire to emulate. 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 event 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.
- Forgive yourself. We all carry memories of past failures and disappointment. These little treasures are the classroom of life.
"Failure is success if we learn from it." Malcom S. Forbes.
Review any 'failures' in your life and list the things that 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. If this task seems insurmountable to you explore coaching and modalities like the Emotional Freedom Techniques to break the hold of these past experiences.
- Get feedback. 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. Why? Because shutting out praise means that you don't acknowledge yourself for your achievements and positive characteristics. Boost your confidence by asking 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 advisor who helps entrepreneurs around the globe grow their businesses well into the millions. She has over 25 years of experience in corporate and start-up ventures and speaks widely on combining strategic and creative thinking for optimum success and happiness.