The confidence issue

From networking to pitching, confidence is key. Some people have it, the gift of the gab, the patter. Some of us go through points or parts of our journey where we loose it and some of us struggle to find it.

I can’t tell you that I am going to help find your confidence or get it back, everyone’s journey is different. But I will share a part of my journey where I lost my confidence, how I found it and 5 things I learnt along the way. If you have lost your confidence or are trying to find it, I hope something I say might be of use and as always do feel free to share you insights and thoughts with me via twitter here.

There was a point a few years ago when I felt like I hit rock bottom and totally lost all my confidence. I felt useless and was struggling to pick myself and motivate myself. I felt lost and couldn’t see the route forward.

It was my wife that told me I need to do something totally different from what I was used to, it has better be something that ‘bloody scares you or don’t bother’. So I didn’t a stand up comedy course for three months with the London Comedy School. It finished with me having to do three 5min open mics sets at different comedy clubs around London.

I have raced downhill mountain bikes, I have abseiled down dams and buildings, I have dived with sharks, I have done things that could bee seen as a bit scary, but having to stand up in front of 150+ people you don’t know and get them to laugh was petrifying. Especially when they didn’t laugh at a joke and you still had 4mins 50secs left of your set!

But I got through it, I got some laughs and I loved it. I have even been and done a few more open mic sets since! So what did I learn? It took me right out of my comfort zone and I proved to myself that I could do something I had never done before and never thought I could do. Did it help me get my confidence back? Hell yes. It shook me up, got me out of my rut and gave me confidence in myself.

So 5 quick takeaways from my journey:

Don’t stress

So you loose your confidence. Don’t worry, it happens to us all at points. It isn’t the end of the world. It might feel the world has fallen away below you and you are on your own. But you aren’t. Plenty have been there before you. You will get it back and you will be stronger

Haters
Sadly there are people out that want you bring you down, put you down and talk you down. Haters suck. If you come across a hater, get ride of them now and don’t let them be part of your life or journey. No good will come of it… Trust me!
Now find 2 other people in your network who can remind you that you are great. Contact me, tell me what you are trying to do with your start up and I will be the first to tell you you are great.

Prepare
They say to fail to prepare is to prepare to fail. For me this is so true. I don’t agree with going into things and winging it. I cant do that and I will always crash and burn. So prep yourself. Know your pitch. Think about what your elevator pitch is. It sounds basic but set aside a bit of time at the start of the day to do a spot of preparation for your day ahead. It will give you the confidence to go into a meeting, a pitch, a situation with strength and not feel exposed.

Challenge yourself
Do something different, for me it was a comedy course. For you it might be running 5km, doing a tough mudder, taking a magic course, doing a cooking class, learning Salsa. The key is to do something you have never done before, see it through and trust me you will look back with pride and think, damn right I did that, I rock.

You are awesome
Never forget this. For me confidence is all about learning to love yourself. Yes there is a slim line between confidence and arrogance, but you need to remember every day that you are great. If you want to do the Alan Partridge thing and roar in the mirror go for it. I have seen some of the worlds most famous Directors and sports stars go through techniques to build their confidence before a big speech or an event. Never be embarrassed, do what you need to do to remind yourself that you are going to smash what ever it is you are about to do.

If you want a network of people who will be there for you when you have a rough day and your confidence takes a hit check out the IoD 99 (www.iod.com/99). Last week a 99er in the community came across a hater, which hit their confidence and within 12 hours over 30 member had reached out to support them. Never forget we are stronger together.

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