Being Bold: The Truth About Confidence
As it is International Women’s Day today, with the theme of Be Bold For Change, celebrating the power of women to lead and succeed, I am mindful that what often stops us from boldly stepping up to advance our careers or businesses are the fears and doubts we harbour about whether we are good enough, experienced enough, knowledgeable enough or just plain … enough.
Death by Comparison
I know just how this feels. Years ago when I decided to start blogging in my business to raise awareness of my profile – and spread the word of my services – I came up with all sorts of excuses why this wasn’t the right time to start; I feared I had nothing to say; feared I didn’t have enough experience to share and spent an enormous amount of time reading other people’s blogs – supposedly to help me learn from their style – but really I was just procrastinating. Reading other people’s words and expertise only served to intimidate me and reinforce my feelings of inadequacy in comparison.
I was struggling to trust that my own voice and my own unique experience would be enough. The overriding fear was of making myself visible and heard – actually showing up – and being found wonting. More recently those fears have been amplified as I have been honing and finding my voice – not just in writing (note: now comparatively safe and anonymous behind a computer screen) but in person with my public speaking.
But here’s what I have learnt from my own recent experience of being bold and taking action despite these gremlin fears and doubts.
Your Difference is Your Strength
So often in our fears of not being good enough we look outside of ourselves for guidance as to how we ‘should’ show up and behave, we compare ourselves to others and try to emulate their example and ‘act’ the part in our roles – but this can just serve to reinforce any underlying fears of being an imposter and of being found out as a fraud.
I recently shared the stage with two fellow Coaches who come from what I formerly considered to be a ‘more polished’ corporate background and I was acutely aware of our difference when I was preparing my section of the workshop. In contrast I come from a clinical, mental health background, which is quite unusual for a Coach, and I found myself watching how they behaved and feeling like I needed to match up but fearing I somehow fell short.
I was delivering a talk as part of a Confidence Workshop (the irony is not lost on me!) and I wanted to not just share my knowledge and expertise, but also to share my story and my ‘Why’ I do what I do – to really connect with the audience and show them what is possible in spite of these fears. But even up to the moment I stood up to speak I feared I was wrong to share so much, feared it was too much for people to hear, feared I would be found out and rejected…..
But I couldn’t see in myself what others could see.
By daring to show up and be seen as my imperfect self and be real, sharing my own vulnerability alongside my courage, wisdom and strength, I named the pain and connected with others in the room and it had a profound impact. What I didn’t realise until I spoke and got such an amazing reception was that I have my own unique style and approach.
Yet often we don’t appreciate what strengths we do have until we dare to step outside of our comfort zone, take the risk and get feedback from our endeavours. This is one of the reasons why having the objective support of a Coach to feedback your strengths and skills and champion you as you take bold steps to move forward is so powerful in building your confidence.
Do the Thing and You Will Have the Power
This also served to reinforce the fact that our gremlin fears and doubts are just thoughts – not necessarily facts or reality – and we need to learn to not pay them too much attention when taking steps to move forward with our careers and businesses.
Yet so often, as with my blogging example earlier, we wait until we feel ready and feel confident enough to take the next step – and the gremlins gripe and groan making us more likely to keep procrastinating – whereas in reality confidence comes from feeling the fear (whilst not taking these thoughts too seriously), taking the step anyway and learning from it.
Our confidence will show up when we do.
Every time we dare to take steps and show up as our perfectly flawed selves – and are seen and accepted for who we authentically are- our confidence will grow and our impact will deepen which helps us take the next steps to develop our career and businesses further.
Over to You
What has helped you gain confidence in your abilities? Where do you want to be bold for change? I’d love to hear from you.
Need help to master those gremlin fears and find your power so you can boldly develop your career and your leadership potential?
Take a look at my career and leadership coaching programmes. You can fill in the form here and then schedule a FREE, no obligation Clarity and Confidence Consultation to make some headway on the situation you are facing.