As many professionals, you encounter challenges in business where you feel you have to change yourself. You might try to become what you are not. You walk around with a persona that you created, which is fulfilling anticipated expectations of your surrounding – more logical, more ad-hoc, more outspoken, only speaking up when asked and so on. You have a confused identity. You might feel you have to hide yourself. And it is painful not to be your own authentic self.
Here is the catch:
Self-confidence is the most essential trait to be successful in business – countless research has shown that. You have to deal with people, take decisions that influence your business and a lot of other people, execute plans, develop strategies and so on. All these won’t happen unless and until you are confident of your own capabilities.
However, if you feel you cannot be yourself how can you become more confident in yourself?
Most of the time, what’s keeping us from being ourselves is fear.
Fear is a funny thing. Fear creeps into our lives at the worst of times aka change. I’m not talking about the legitimate fear of one’s safety but the fear that arises when we step out of our comfort zone.
Here is a quote from Brian Whetten that I love:
If you can discern the voice of fear, it is a good indication in which direction to go – as long as you head the other way.
I resonate strongly with the logic step sequence from Jenn Aubert to discern and lean into fear when leaving your comfort zone. With this sequence you can figure out in which direction fear is pointing so that you can go the other way.
What is the fear telling you? Often we become fearful and just stop. We don’t ask why we are fearful at this moment and what it may represent. Are you about to do something different but are fearful that others may find it not good enough? What is that telling you? Most professionals want to get out there with everything perfect. But often we need to get something out to test and get feedback on. Are you afraid of the feedback that your product/idea/concept is not viable? Find out what is really stirring under the surface and if there are changes that need to be made.
Utilize the fear for growth. Allow fear to bring up past issues that you need to deal with so you can move on. Is the fear you’re experiencing now a reflection of past mistakes or missed opportunities? Are you bringing up childhood or relationship issues? Nothing brings up personal issues more than change. Face them and grow on them.
Tune into the voice of reason. Figure out the worst case scenario then ask yourself how likely is it to occur. Step outside the emotional side and ask the rational question, “Really, what’s the percentage that this could fail.” We often begin to believe and act like we’re 100% doomed when in reality you may be able to determine that there is a 30% chance of failure or some other negative outcome. If you know that you have a 70% chance of success or a positive outcome that will refocus your attention.
The most powerful and successful people in history have battled fear. No one is immune. They may appear fearless but it’s only because you’re seeing them after years of working with, managing and overcoming their fears. You have stepped into the world beyond your comfort zone and that is when the magic happens so know you’ve arrived. You’re not alone.