As an entrepreneur, it can be challenging to be confident when there are so many variables that go into making your business a success. You might think that once you’ve achieved business success that it will give you a confidence boost. In reality, though, confidence in yourself and what you can accomplish is what will help you become successful in the first place.
Considering that the life and work of an entrepreneur is about constantly pushing boundaries and going beyond your comfort zone, staying confident is easier said than done. It’s easy for self-doubt to set in the minute something doesn’t go as planned or someone tells you “no” or “it can’t be done.” It’s your confidence that helps you push forward, say “yes” to the opportunity and prove that it can be done.
As the leader of your startup or company, working on your self-confidence is a vital part of your personal development and leadership growth. Confident people who are leaders can influence others and get them to believe in the same vision. However, low self-confidence remains a key challenge for many entrepreneurs.
1. Don’t listen to self-limiting beliefs
Whether they were instilled in us by parents or other adult figures in our lives, our limiting beliefs might have convinced us to focus on what we can’t do or what might never be possible. Remember, though, that at one time we were enthusiastic children who believed we could be or do anything!
Wherever possible, it’s important to quiet those negative thoughts that are providing reasons why you can’t do something. Instead, take on an uncomfortable situation or try something new and see what happens. Should you succeed at it, you can permanently shut down many self-limiting beliefs.
2. Don’t always rely on your memory for accurate information
Our memory does serve us well in certain situations. However, it can also be our own worst enemy. That’s because it comes with confirmation bias already built-in.
Our brain’s memory does not store information in the same way it was originally presented. What we see and remember is based on our pre-existing beliefs, values and self-perception.
If you have low self-esteem, then your brain tends to confirm those ideas, bolstering your lack of confidence. Every time you remember a certain event, you think of the bad aspects of it, such as the mistakes you made.
To counteract that reaction, improve your self-image and build confidence, it is important to get other perspectives on these situations. These perspectives are best obtained from someone you respect and admire, such as a family member, friend, colleague or mentor. Your trust and respect for the person offering perspective will help you see past your own thoughts on the matter. These external impressions can be invaluable in helping you rethink things and refocus on the positives.
3. Talk yourself out of negative self-talk
Negative thoughts do damage to confidence, but you can boost your self-esteem by using positive affirmations to transform your mindset. There is a lot to be said about the power of positive self-talk as a way to work past challenges and barriers, including those you put in front of yourself.
You can talk yourself out of fear, self-doubt, and fixation on past mistakes by reminding yourself of your capabilities and accomplishments. These “pep” talks can also help you work through a challenge by reflecting on what you can do or how you can find a possible solution. Through proactive discussions with yourself about what can be done, you stop focusing on the fear that you won’t be able to solve a problem.
4. Counter negative thoughts with positive ones
A lack of confidence often originates from negative thoughts that chip away at us. These thoughts destroy our self-image and self-worth. They are not easy to get rid of, either. To do so, you will need to stifle each negative thought with multiple positive thoughts. Have positive affirmations ready to say to yourself or out loud. Reflect on each positive notion before saying or thinking another one.
Don’t think of it as ignoring or suppressing negative thoughts, because they will still be there to take a swipe at your self-confidence later on. Instead, acknowledge the bad thoughts and lack of self-confidence before replacing them with an inner dialogue composed of positive ideas, including your accomplishments and capabilities.
5. Be curious
Curiosity helps you grow. More importantly, it can motivate you to try new things and be open to fresh perspectives and ideas. Going through the process of experiencing these new things, perspectives and ideas can help boost confidence.
Being curious can give your mind something to actively focus on so it stays busy on positive things. It also can point you in new directions that you didn’t know were possible. In doing so, you can change your life for the better. Any positive results you create will, in turn, help build your self-confidence.
6. Gain control by facing your fears
When we feel we are in control, there is a sense of confidence and comfort that surrounds us. It’s when we are afraid that we feel the most out of control. While it may seem counterintuitive, this is the time to move closer to what scares us or makes us feel threatened. By doing so, we are actively going after what scares us. And, when we do, we can eliminate the threat and fear.
The result of taking such action makes us more confident because we feel more capable. Plus, provided that nothing bad happened to us when we went after what was scaring us, it’s a win to add to our confidence scorecard.
Related: How to Become a Better Leader Through a Crisis
7. Identify where you lack confidence and what can give you confidence
It’s also important to identify and define the specific areas where you don’t feel confident. Does it relate to your knowledge and experience in doing things related to your business? Is it your body image? Or, do you struggle with public speaking and making eye contact with strangers?
Building confidence can still be challenging even when you know where you are lacking, but it does help you put your energy into the right areas. You can also bolster your effort to become more confident by concentrating on those areas where you are already confident. Thinking about the situations where you felt empowered can help you re-tap those emotions or actions to use for the areas where you still feel self-doubt.
8. Don’t compare yourself
When you see others and their accomplishments on social media, it’s easy to lose confidence. Comparing yourself to others, you might think you have failed or lack worth because it looks as though others have so much more money, admiration and success.
Nothing good comes out of comparing yourself. Those other people are not you. Their stories are different. You also don’t know how many times they might have failed or made mistakes. It doesn’t make sense to make judgments based only on the visible, highly edited parts of someone else’s life when your path and life are completely different.
If you must compare, then use yourself as the measuring stick. When you do, you may be able to see just how far you have come, including wins and improvements. Those accomplishments are what should keep you striving to do better.
9. Get new skills and experience
Make changes in those areas where you feel you are lacking by taking classes that will help you acquire new skills. Then, put those skills to work and gain new experiences. As you get better at those skills and expand your capabilities, your confidence will organically grow. Turn to other resources like podcasts, conferences, books and mentors to further build confidence.
Confidence starts with you
Becoming more confident starts and ends with you, because you can make decisions and choices. Reminding yourself that you can choose to be confident goes a long way toward actually being confident. Once you start believing what you tell yourself, confidence levels can rise along with success, happiness and satisfaction.