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Confidence is a common problem for creators.
Call it what you want, shyness, imposter syndrome, having a “thin skin,” but it boils down to lack of confidence.
Do you wish you had more confidence?
I definitely feel like not having enough confidence has held me back.
There’s also a part of me that whispers negative thoughts about other people, that they make up for a lack of ability with an excess of confidence. I try not to listen to that voice, but it does pop up a lot.
How much of a problem is a lack of confidence really?
First, when I can see things more clearly, I realize there are a lot of people who are successful despite their quota of confidence.
Bravery, after all, is feeling the fear and doing stuff anyway.
Secondly, people sometimes find an excess of confidence repulsive and humility endearing. Excess of anything tends to be off-putting. A bit of vulnerability, without tugging on that lever too much, is a good thing.
Finally, when we worry about things it can show that we care. Caring about things is usually good. For example, if you get on stage with zero nerves, does that mean you will do great or could it mean you are not as prepared as you could be?
Why Growing Your Confidence Is Worth It
Confidence is not the only thing you need to be successful in business or life in general, but it sure helps.
Aside from the personal benefits, it helps you be a better creator, mentor, coach, business leader, and human being.
When you are confident, you pass that confidence on.
It comes through in your writing, your products, and in how you service your customers.
When you are confident, giving, and humble, it also empowers others. It helps people feel like they can count on you when they need you, but not be wholly reliant on you.
They can take what you’ve taught them and take action, giving them more confidence in their own abilities and pursuits.
Tips for Growing Your Confidence
While there is no magical, instant solution that would work in a professional context, there are some ideas about growing confidence that I have found helpful.
1. Be curious. Listen and pay attention.
Take the spotlight and move it on to someone else.
It’s hard to say the wrong thing when you are letting other people do most of the talking. Despite how it might feel, it is not necessarily your job to fill conversational voids.
When you do say something, try asking questions and follow up questions.
Curiosity is remarkably attractive.
2. Put your focus on delivering value.
Again, this is about turning the spotlight onto the audience, the person you are trying to help, rather than yourself.
It’s not about you, it’s about what you are doing for others. You are not talking (or writing, or painting) to be heard, but for a reason. What is that reason—to deliver a message, make someone feel something, to get another person to take action?
Focus on what will bring about that outcome, not your blushes, sweaty palms, or how your voice might sound.
3. Look for the friendly (and honest) faces.
Did you know most people do NOT want you to fail?
I know, sounds weird right? Especially for anyone who has spent more than a millisecond on the internet.
But it is true!
It’s especially true when you are delivering something that person asked for. They might have accepted an invitation to a talk you are giving, or clicked on your video link, or opened up your article.
Now, obviously, when you make that invitation, be it an actual invite or the headline of your content, you need to then deliver on the promise. Clickbait, aka Bait and Switch, is not polite, so you can understand if people get a little miffed when you waste their time, but otherwise they want the solution, the entertainment, the education, or the art that you offered them.
You might get feedback that is difficult to hear. That is a part of putting your creativity out there in public, but even when people are not good at delivering it in a sensitive way, feedback can help you grow.
Hearing bad news is hard, though it can be easier when you have other people to offer perspective. Ask for help from people who won’t just tell you what you want to hear. Is the feedback valid or have you attracted a troll?
One of the things I get told a lot is that people hate my accent. “I couldn’t understand the Scottish guy” is a common complaint on feedback forms from events I have spoken at. Strange thing is, I have also been told by people that they love my British accent and that I should never change it. I wish I could say that I can ignore the former, or at least focus on the latter, but I can’t. That said, anticipating it and knowing there is not much I can do about the problem does kind of help.
4. Know you can’t please everybody.
You simply can’t please everybody. Nor should you.
In fact, repelling some people is a good thing. Not everyone is a good fit for what you do.
I am glad now when some people find me personally offensive, because it saves headaches and heartaches down the line. Rather than please someone who will never be on the same page as you, let them find their own corner of the community and leave you to yours.
5. Find your niche and be confident in that.
Ask me to do math on demand, and I am definitely not going to be confident, but ask me about something I am passionate about, experienced with, spend my days obsessing about? Well then you might find it difficult to get me to shut up.
We all have our super powers, and we all have our Kryptonite. Knowing yours is very helpful.
If you were a fish you wouldn’t judge yourself on your tree-climbing ability.
Bottom Line: Being human is actually OK!
I find people, on balance, like to relate to people. Funny thing, we all have flaws. The people who pretend to be perfect tend to get found out eventually.
It’s ok to be a bit of a mess. Let’s all be a bit messy together.
Want to find more people who don’t mind your mess? We have a mastermind for that.