If you think seasoned public speakers don't feel stabs to their confidence and doubt their abilities before they step up to the podium, you'd be wrong.
I've worked with big teams of professionals who presented to large crowds with thousands in attendance. Most are very experienced presenters.
Each and every one felt the sting of nerves (especially as the day grew closer) and many questioned - or excused themselves by arguing - that the size of the audience was throwing their confidence off.
Their solution was to muster up their courage and 'just do it'.
Do you think steely determination is the answer?
It's not. Taking the leap will only get you so far and you'll only be able to rely on it so many times.
One of my dad's favorite truisms was, "Don't put the cart before the horse". It holds true with your confidence too.
When you are ten steps ahead but are consumed by a gnawing knot in your stomach, it's time to move the cart back to where it belongs.
Listen to what that knot is being fed by. Feel it. Yes, it's uncomfortable isn't it?
Until you hear what's whittling away at the belief in yourself, you'll be pulled back to the knot again and again.
If my presenters, who thought the large group was the cause of their rattled chains, had been more introspective, they would have realized self-doubt was the issue.
They'd have been better served questioning whether what they were speaking to had value to their audience or if they should have started practicing two weeks ago, not two days before to bolster their confidence.
Do you make conclusions based on irrational thoughts?
We make up crazy stories, which are often unfounded. In the situation I shared about the presenters being freaked out by a large audience, the rationalization that nerves were caused by more people than they've previously presented to was wrong-headed.
The expectations from the attendees are always the same - every person with a bum in a seat is looking for an answer to their problem.
It's this type of irrational thinking that throws us off our game - being consumed with what ifs and what may be.
I share with my clients not everyone's going to love you and that's perfectly okay. You don't love everyone either...right?
Do you compare yourself to others?
While working on my degree one of my sage Communication professors walked into our first class and simply said, "You're perfect as you are". I thought she was a little crazy.
I was there to learn (and had much to learn) so how could I be perfect? I viewed her as being close to the perfection I was chasing. It took me many years to realize she is a wise soul.
Doubt based on who others are and what they've accomplished doesn't serve us.
We gain confidence by knowing what success means to us and carving out the path to get there on our own terms. Believing that others have the answer and following their wins, will have you arriving at a hollow definition of success. Someone else's - not yours.
I know what you're thinking. You're a corporate professional and this all smacks of 'spirituality' and 'woo woo' stuff and nonsense. But, infusing business with mindfulness is a trend I'm seeing more and more, from lawyers to healthcare providers to police officers.
And often, it's what makes the difference between an average speaker and an excellent one.