As a busy entrepreneur in a frenetic world, you may have a hard time pausing from the day to day and taking stock of your true work experience. Most often, you are on cruise control or in reaction mode. You're constantly reacting to everything that comes your way.
As such, you may not be aware of your performance status, even if you're taking stock of your employees'. Are you really maximizing your performance, or have you unconsciously fallen into making mediocre the norm? Because of our society's fast-pace way of operating, we can lose sight of the underlying challenges that we face as we progress in our work. So what's one of the biggest challenges that may be holding you back?
Caring what others think.
If you can stop right now and be more aware of how often you make decisions based on what others think, you can make an immediate difference in your performance and confidence. And if you find you are doing it quite often, you--and your business--could be suffering.
In The Confidence Code, authors Katty Kay and Claire Shipman cite a study by University of Ohio professor Julie Crocker, which found that people who overemphasize the role of others' perceptions in making decisions can have real side effects:
"In her study, she found that those who based their self-worth and self-confidence on what others think of them don't just pay a mental price; they pay a physical price, too," the authors write. "Crocker's study of 600 college students showed that those who depended on others for approval--of their appearance, grades, choices, you name it--reported more stress and had higher levels of drug abuse and eating disorders. The students who based their self-esteem and confidence on internal sources, such as being virtuous or having a strong moral code, did better than the others in exams and had lower levels of drug and alcohol abuse."
The study's findings conclude that confidence that is dependent on other people's praise is a lot more vulnerable than the confidence built from our own achievements.
Sure, we all kind of know this to be true, but it's worth a reminder that if you fall prey to basing your view of yourself and your choices on what others think, you may be hindering your true potential.
How often do you think about the social ramifications of your choices? For example, you are offered a new project. That particular project is high-profile and your colleagues and friends likely will be impressed. How much does this weigh into your decision versus accessing its true fit with your abilities? How many times have you gone with the one that "appears" right and then, once the reactions from others dwindle, you are left with something that isn't really right for you?
The answer to these questions lies within you. I would suggest starting to pay attention to the amount of influence others have on your decision-making process--while you are making such choices. For the next two weeks, whenever you are making a significant decision, try asking yourself the following:
1. Does the potential outcome feel better to me--or does it make me look good to others?
2. If I get no social validation from this decision, does it still excite me?
3. Am I more excited to share this information or decision with others than to actually dive into it?
It could be that the result is both exciting for you and something that looks great to others. That is fine, as long as you are clear that your drive comes from within and gets a boost from sharing it with others. It's impossible to completely negate the need for validation from others, of course. The key, however, is to avoid going for something that does not excite you and is only attractive because it looks good to others.
Connecting with others and being aware of how you affect them is an important part of human interaction--in business and in life--but there is a fine line between treating others with respect and allowing their perceptions and thinking to override your own instincts and reality. If you can add just a touch of consciousness to how much you consider others in your thinking and override it sometimes, you are well on your way to experiencing more joy and confidence that comes from being true to yourself.