Self-confidence in business is hugely important. What motivates some people to be brave and bold in business?
Why do some people go ahead and introduce themselves to key stakeholders and influencers in their industry? Or pitch themselves to conference organisers? Or change direction in their business, rebrand or target an entirely different industry?
Why do some business owners immediately apply what they’ve learnt? Why are some excited and motivated to change, experiment, and grow their business?
And why do others get stuck, turning, turning, turning, but never quite launching? Is it lack of self-confidence? Or is there something else at play?
The human condition in flux
Self-belief and self-confidence is in constant flux. This is the human condition. While intellectually, we may appreciate that not everyone is as confident as they appear or that self-confidence fluctuates, emotionally this can be hard to swallow.
When you’re feeling less-than-stellar, it can be easy to get ‘spooked’ by others’ high self-confidence.
Further, we often believe that if something is changeable, it’s not real or credible. Therefore, we distrust our own self-confidence because we know that it’ll change. We don’t see others’ self-confidence fluctuating, only our own.
Being scared by monsters
Many years back when I was a tour leader in south-east Asia, I got on a bus in Cambodia for a long journey. Long journeys on buses were very common and I’d done this trip countless times before. The group, the situation and the day was pretty typical and I was feeling fine.
Some six or so hours later as I stepped off the bus, I felt absolutely awful. I was so down that I had to stop myself crying in front of my tour group.
So what had changed?
Nothing. I’d spent several hours gazing out into the rain, thinking, remembering, reflecting and imagining, and my mood had plummeted.
I’d allowed my mind to make up stories of menacing monsters, and then I’d let myself believe my own imaginings. I had painted monsters in my mind and then become scared by my own creations.
Self-confidence fluctuates for everybody.
You either believe your internal negative dialogue or you refuse to. You either become scared by monsters of your own making, or you dismiss them. You are either wedded to your excuses or are determined to power through bouts of low self-esteem and confidence.
As Henry Ford puts it, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.”
The myth of waiting until you’re ready
The brave person need only be confident in short bursts to work effectively. The difference between the brave and the fearful is that brave people don’t wait until they feel ready to take action.
Think about anything you’ve done in life that you later felt was brave – did you feel absolutely 100 per cent confident? Or were you taking a bit of a gamble?
We cannot afford to wait until “we feel ready” because, guess what? That feeling may never come.
Brave people act before they feel ready. They feel fearful, but they act anyway. Every thing I’ve done in my business that has propelled me forward has happened amid self-doubt or even self-loathing. I’ve been unconfident that things would happen the way I’d hope. I’d felt self-conscious. At times, I’ve felt like an idiot.
But I’ve acted regardless – and it’s always in those big bold moves that great leaps forward have occurred.
We all entertain negative internal dialogue from time to time. The difference between optimists and pessimists is that pessimists view their negative internal dialogue as the truth while optimists refuse to believe this.