If there’s one single thing that I found myself coming back to again and again over the course of the first year in my creative business, it’s confidence.
It’s funny, before I started doing my own thing, I would have never thought confidence would be a problem for me. Not because I thought I was all that and a bag of chips (yep, I’m bringing that phrase back, you’re welcome), but because developing self-esteem was always a part of my upbringing.
Growing up, my parents made sure to encourage me and acknowledge my strengths. I’d tackle school and sports with an I got this mentality, and if it didn’t work out (we lost the game, I did poorly on a test, etc) I didn’t allow it to define my self-worth or limit my belief in myself. (Score one for the parenting on that one.)
That’s why it was especially surprising to me when all that self-belief went out the window as soon as I started my business.
Is this sounding familiar to you at all? Do you have a strong sense of self in one area of life but this whole business thing has you feeling like you’re starting at literally ground zero when it comes to building your confidence?
Here’s what I found out: You can have all the self-esteem in the world, but the second you decide to turn your passion into your living, cultivating confidence becomes a whole different ball game.
Suddenly every tiny facet of your business’s success (or failure) feels tied to your self-worth.
When you’re starting out as a creative entrepreneurs, you’re just trying to figure it out as you go along. But wading through all that uncertainty can be a tough environment for confidence to flourish. You’re constantly finding yourself in situations that are new and it’s only natural to feel unsure because it’s something you have zero prior experience with.
This is particularly challenging for women. I read a book a while back called The Confidence Code: The Science And Art of Self-Assurance. One of my favorite quotes from the introduction that I’ve kept with me is:
“Why is it that women sound less sure of ourselves when we know we are right than men sound when they think they could be wrong?” -The Confidence Code
Fascinating, right? I definitely see this in my own life.
As a woman, I know that I’m a people pleaser. We’re taught to be humble. We don’t want to come across as brash or abrasive or cocky because we want to be liked. And we definitely don’t want to be caught feeling incompetent, so we won’t assert our full confidence unless we feel we’re absolutely, beyond-the-shadow-of-a-doubt over-prepared to deliver. It’s a form of protection. Guys, on the other hand, as a whole tend to be less worried about being liked and more concerned with appearing self-assured.
So how did I find confidence in the midst of all that uncertainty? And how can YOU learn to cultivate confidence even in the early days of your business?
You can actually use mindfulness and intentional action to develop your confidence muscle. It’s not comfortable, but it’s effective.
For the most part I don’t like the phrase “fake it til you make it,” because I think authenticity is key to a core-centered business, but in the case of confidence, I think it has some validity.
Not everyone can just flip a switch in their head and suddenly wake up completely certain of their abilities and talents. However, someone can intentionally decide to approach conversations and situations with less hesitation and over time flex that confidence muscle.
In that case, I suppose confidence is less about faking it until you make it and more about practicing it until you believe it.
To show you an example of how you might apply this to your own every day, I’ll share with you this great exercise that one of my friends Clay tried with me regarding introducing yourself as an entrepreneur.
Can you tell someone what you do in six words or less? (ie. “I help _________ do _________.) When we first tried the exercise casually over lunch one day back in the early days of my Made Vibrant, I think I spat out something like 20 words. I was so busy qualifying and meandering through my statement because I didn’t feel confident saying Here is what I do. BOOM.
But the idea is, once you’re able to narrow it down to that concise, powerful intro, you can intentionally prepare to share that when someone asks the inevitable question, “What do you do?”
YOU can decide to inject those simple six words with confidence and assuredness and to leave it hanging in the air so that they can come back to you with questions. It takes a little getting used to for sure, but when you don’t waiver, you are projecting a confidence that other people will pick up on.
The same idea applies to pricing your products or services. As creatives, it can be hard for us to state our prices matter-of-factly because it’s hard to have full confidence in our value and our abilities. That’s why we have a tendency to quote prices by saying things like “Well… I typically charge…” or “How do you feel about $X?” Instead, by intentionally editing those conversations to read “My rate is $X” or “That package costs $X” we can express that we know our worth and our clients and customers will believe in that value too.
So… my challenge to you this week is to find your confidence through INTENTION.
Notice how I said “find.” It doesn’t happen overnight. It requires self-discovery and going within yourself to pull out some of the parts you do believe in. Find ways to approach situations with certainty where you might have done so previously with hesitation. And remember, it takes practice and time (as most lasting changes do.)
If you begin to intentionally remind yourself on a daily basis of the things you bring to the table and the people you can help with your gifts, over time you will begin to believe it. And that’s when confidence can shift from being an intentional, mindful practice to something that’s ingrained in everything you do.
We all have something unique to offer the world. Those that anchor themselves with confidence in that belief are the ones that make the difference.
Hope your week is off to a glorious start, friends. Let’s make it a good one.