Self-help authors, life coaches, and executive workshop leaders all share the same goal: to help you become more confident. But what if confidence just isn’t in you? What if the slightest mishap causes you to quake in your boots? Does that mean you’ll never be a successful entrepreneur?
Not at all. While it’s certainly true that projecting extreme confidence will help you sell people on your point of view, product, or company, it’s not the only road to success. A lot of famous successful entrepreneurs arrived at the top of their professions racked by uncertainty instead of brimming with confidence. So it’s only natural that you are shaky sometimes. However, here’s how to get your confidence back.
Stop blaming yourself for feeling afraid
If your business goes down, will it really be because you suffered a momentary twinge of doubt? Of course not. Taking risks is a necessary part of starting or running a business, and fear is a completely normal response to it.
Use fear to your advantage
The problem with fear is that it sometimes stops us from taking action, often through a rationalization such as: “I need to do some more research first,” or “In a few months, the market for this may be better.” Start by determining that you won’t let fear paralyze you, remembering that making a decision (even the wrong ones) is almost always better than making no decision.
But fear can also drive you in the right direction if you let it. Worrying that you might not have enough to cover payroll next month can inspire you to make a few more cold calls, even though the very thought of one more rejection fills you with despair. So whenever you can, turn your fear into motivation to do more or become smarter.
Act “as if”
Sometimes the best way to deal with having no confidence is to figure out what a confident person would do and then emulate that. Where there might be no other option, try this mental hack: produce work as if you were confident that it was good enough, but promise yourself that once it’s done, you don’t have to turn it in. If you judge it to be unworthy, you can delete it and start over. This hack can help you produce work quickly.
Do your homework
If you lack confidence to begin with, don’t make matters worse by being unprepared for the challenges you’ll meet. Spend as much time as you can spare learning everything there is to know about your profession, your industry, and the specific projects or deals you’re working on. The better prepared you are, the less reason you’ll have to be afraid. And when you’ve learned as much as you can about the job you have to do, the industry you’re in, and the people you’re working with, that knowledge in itself should give you confidence–or at least make it unlikely that you’ll be blindsided by something you didn’t think of.
The more you do things outside your comfort zone, the less restrictive that comfort zone will be. The more time you spend only on tasks that seem easy and unthreatening, the harder it will be to stretch. So think of the things that frighten you as practice. Even if you do them really badly, the fact that you did them at all will make it easier next time. Do them enough, and you may discover you’ve grown some confidence after all.