If there’s one single thing that I’ve come back to again and again over the course of this 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.
That’s why it was especially surprising to me when all that went out the window in January as I started my business.
But here’s what I know now: You can have all the confidence 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 successes and failures feels tied to your self-worth.
As creative entrepreneurs, we’re all just trying to figure it out as we go along and all that uncertainty can be a tough environment to build confidence.
For a week now, Jason and I have been in San Diego spending time with our friends Clay Hebert and Julia Roy. They, too, are entrepreneurs and can work from anywhere, so we’ve had a lot of great conversations about our businesses and our goals for the future.
Through one of our conversations, I expressed my ongoing battle with this idea of confidence and Clay recommended a book to me called The Confidence Code: The Science And Art of Self-Assurance – What Women Should Know.
Now, I’m only a few chapters in, but already I’m fascinated by the effect this book could have on how I approach things in the future. I’m especially interested because the book explores confidence from the female perspective, diving into the fact that women in particular have a problem approaching situations with confidence.
One of my favorite quotes from the introduction: “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
And to a large extent, it’s true.
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 over-prepared to deliver. Guys, on the other hand, are less worried about being liked and more concerned with appearing self-assured.
Now, I haven’t read the whole book yet, so perhaps I’ll have more insight once I do, but the conclusion I’ve come to as I’ve thought about it throughout the week is that sometimes confidence has to be intentional. (Yes, like most things, it all comes back to intention. I admit, not quite the same ring to it.)
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 build up that confidence muscle, so to speak. (In that case I suppose it’s 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 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, 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 This 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 What do you do?
YOU have to 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. 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.
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.