The thing I’m learning about business and more importantly about being in business is that we all believe to some extent that we can only be successful if we are 100% confident in ourselves and in our businesses.

As a woman with a lot of personal ‘baggage’ in the hold I can’t help but get caught up in this mentality from time to time and whatever you coin it, it’s when the sneaky old imposter syndrome creeps in.

It’s no secret that confidence is a phenomenal selling tool.

You just have to look at the Kardashians to know that confidence has been a cornerstone of their success, this is the evidence we are seeing all around us and so our brains tells us ‘see, confidence is key’.

The difficulty is that we also have that deep desire to just wake up one day with a gut full of self confidence. We think ‘tomorrow it will be different, I’ll feel different and when I do, I’m going to…’

I believe that’s exactly why confidence is such a phenomenal selling tool. Because it’s something we all want more of.

It’s a commodity that often feels a little out of our reach, and what is business if it’s not based on the supply and demand principle somewhere along the line?

Confidence has been a bit of a buzzword for the last few years and in particular as social media has boomed. There are a shit tonne of books, podcasts, courses and trainings all designed to help you boost your confidence.

It’s brilliant, I want EVERYONE to feel more confident so anything that supports that – I’m down for it!

But…

My experience is that confidence is a side effect.

It’s the same as losing weight and feeling healthier after changing your diet and exercise regime. Confidence comes from doing what we weren’t sure we could actually do.

A great example I have is back in September when I was on holiday in Turkey. It was a lovely holiday and we took a boat trip with friends and family (as you do). As is pretty normal the boat stopped in a gorgeous bay and everyone started jumping into the water from the various decks into the crystal clear blue waters below.

My then 14 year old desperately wanted to jump form the top deck. I was swimming in the sea below watching as he came to the edge (mama bear wanted to be at the bottom to do the proverbial catch) and it never occurred to me he wouldn’t be able to do it.

You see Josh climbs jumps and throws himself into and off of anything he can find on a regular basis, he’s THAT fearless kid but…

He just froze.

It was a horrible moment. There were other boats in the bay and their passengers were shouting at him to just get on with it, everyone on our boat was trying to egg him on and encourage him and I could see him just convincing himself that he couldn’t do it.

The more people pushed, the more he froze.

I was beside myself. I understood 100% because I absolutely knew I couldn’t have done it either, I’d never be able to, it’s not in me and to have that feeling made even worse by everyone else around him, to have that watched by so many people. Well it really hurt my heart and I could see his face burning with his unnecessary embarrassment.

I swam back to the boat, climbed to the top deck and shoo’d everyone away, grabbing Joshs hands I asked what he needed from me and he said. “Mum, I think I’ll be OK if you do it first”

Bloody hell.

As I walked towards the edge I felt like crying. I couldn’t do it, I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it, after all it just wasn’t in me. I wasn’t confident enough and then…

I jumped.

Apart from being absolutely petrified as I flailed uncontrollably through the air only to hit the water and have my swimming costume wedge itself so far up my bum I could floss my teeth with it, I realised, I could do it. I had in fact I had done it and I was fine.

Absolutely fine.

I didn’t need to be confident to do it. I just needed to take a leap of faith (literally), the confidence came AFTERWARDS as a side effect.

For those of you wondering Josh didn’t jump.

He said a few choice words to the people on the other boatsand went and had a good cry on his sun lounger with his sunglasses on.

When everyone was having lunch I took him to the middle deck and we jumped off together and he realised jumping off the top deck wasn’t the challenge – simply jumping off the boat into the lush water was what he wanted to do.

He then did it about 100 times because as a side effect of doing it the first time he created the confidence to do it again (and again and again, getting more flamboyant with each jump).

When we feel ‘stuck’ or frozen we often wrap this up with lacking confidence and not being good enough. There’s also a natural aversion to ’embarrassment’ or shame in there too which I think is one of the reasons we aren’t all ‘more confident’ – we want everyone to think their highest of us at all times and the thought that we might be laughed at or liked less makes many of us very uncomfortable.

But, if confidence is a ‘by product’ what do you need to do to get it?

The truth is that we create confidence by having the courage to have a bias toward action.

Doing something we weren’t certain we could do is exactly how we build our confidence. The more we do it the more confidence we build up.  

When someone else, your child, a friend, a loved one wants to do something that they are finding hard, you don’t encourage confidence, you encourage being brave, having faith in themselves and the very definition of that is not knowing the outcome but doing it anyway.

It’s why so many people say things like ‘start before you’re ready’ or ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’

Because confidence is not a commodity you can buy. It’s a trait you can learn and you can only learn it through doing.

Of course, it also helps when your reason for having to ‘do the thing’ is bigger than your worry. Just like me jumping off the boat, I did it because in that moment it’s what my son needed. In my business the reasons are multi faceted but they’re all bigger than my fear of the thing.

  • Helping women just like me build their own businesses
  • Creating financial security
  • Being healthy and happy
  • Showing my son you can build your dreams in your chosen image
  • Setting women who feel like ‘this is all’ free to reach their greatest potential
  • Building my own dream rather than someone elses
  • never having to request annual leave
  • Being the captain of my own ship and showing other single mums with no money they can too

Fear is normal. In fact it’s hardwired into us as an evolutionary safety net to prevent us from dying. It’s important to remember that fear is designed to stop us from literal death but the way we react to certain things will mimic that – for instance speaking in public or going live on Facebook.

We all know we aren’t actually going to die from doing these things but the chemical and emotive reactions are the same and that’s why we freeze or struggle or put it off.

There is no difference between logical and illogical fear so our response is perhaps disproportionate.

How can we change it?

For us as adults it’s exactly what I mentioned before, having the faith and courage to have a bias towards action and that is easier with a strong reason.

But it’s also important to show our children, peers and audience this so that we encourage them to be more courageous too and thereby helping them evidence that they have confidence to show up for themselves too.

I’m super lucky, I was raised by a ‘doer’ but my innate personality means I struggle with this every single day. Even in so much as writing and sharing this blog post.

But I practice (and I mean practice) having an action towards bias and can honestly say the more I do this the easier it gets, the more confident I become. I have to do it over and over and over and over.

It’s like learning anything. You watch, learn, practice, rinse and repeat until eventually it’s second nature. Then you keep on doing it.

Catch you later, Amy x

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