A Personal Story
There have been times when I’ve been plagued by self doubt.
As a guy who has not been well endowed with self confidence it’s often been a struggle to break free, and just let the natural me shine and blossom.
It’s not that I lack ability in some areas – I know I’m good at some things. But sometimes the normal setbacks of life get to me and before I know it I hit another wall, and then I’m off track again – in hot pursuit of another bright shiny object.
What a shame. What a waste.
But enough of me – have you ever had those feelings yourself? Do you sometimes get down on yourself, even though you have skills and talents that have value?
That’s why I wrote this post, in the hope that some of these ideas will help you, as they have me.
When Things Started To Turn Around
About 20 years ago I decided I’d had enough of being mediocre, and feeling bad about myself. So I came up with an idea. My idea was to pick one thing that scared me, and just do it.
I figured that by doing the thing that most scared me the most, I would get a big mental shot in the arm – a triumph over adversity kind of thing.
So what was this ‘thing’ that scared me the most?
Some people relish the opportunity to get up in front a group and strut their stuff.
But not me.
I was shy and for me any more than 2 people in a room is a crowd. So even talking in front of a small group of say 5 – 10 people put me well into nightmare territory.
So for years I avoided any form of public speaking. If someone asked me to give a talk (my specialty is marketing) I would turn them down. I’d be quite inventive with my excuses too.
I remember after I received one invite from a business friend I told him I would LOVE to do it, but on the day of his seminar I would be in New Zealand exploring caves in the South Island. Yeah right. I don’t like caves and I still haven’t been to New Zealand!
Anyway, one day after reading a book by Susan Jeffers called Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway I decided to do the one thing that terrified me.
A few months later I got a call from another marketer who wanted to do a joint ticket with me. We’d run a seminar for accountants and both would give talks. My colleague had done a lot of talks so relished the opportunity.
When he asked me – even though I had made the decision previously to do some public speaking – my default fear based thought was to feign an illness, or come up with some other stupid excuse and turn him down.
But miraculously this time I didn’t.
This time I saw it through and gave my first public talk in front of 60 hard-nosed cynical accountants.
So how did I go?
I went diabolically bad. It was a total embarrassment. So bad in fact that 20 per cent of the room walked out on me!
Nevertheless after vowing I would never give another talk again, 3 weeks later I got back on the bike and gave another talk. This time I was better, and since then I have given hundreds of talks.
And although public speaking is not my favorite way to spend a couple of hours. I am at least competent at it, and most of the time I project a degree of confidence and passion.
So there’s my little story – what’s yours?
Is there something that you know you should be doing, but it scares the living daylights out of you?
Well perhaps you should just feel the fear and do it anyway
Breaking through the fear barrier is just one of the strategies I have used to banish, or at least greatly reduce, the incidence of self doubt and discouragement.
So, drawing on my experiences from the past I’ve put together 10 tips for you. These tips all work – I know because I have used them myself.
Take a look……
10 Ways to Banish Self Doubt and Discouragement
Easy to say, but hard to do. The fact is that most of us do compare ourselves to others. Of course people endowed with large amounts of self belief make very favorable comparisons, and always in their favor. They’ve convinced themselves that they’re the best and no-one will ever be as good as them.
Maybe their self analysis is correct. Or maybe they’re delusional and narcissistic. But if you’re like most people you are well aware of your own inadequacies, which is fine. It’s just that when you compare yourself to others you set yourself up for failure, or in the word of the late Zig Ziglar, some stinkin’ thinkin’ is preventing you from reaching your full potential.
Curb Your Imagination
The mind can play tricks on us, no doubt. Sometimes we imagine that things are much worse than they actually are.
If harnessed correctly a vivid imagination can ‘see’ solutions to problems, boost motivation and excitement, and create a better tomorrow. But sometimes our imagination can veer towards negative thought patterns too.
We can easily imagine and conjure scary outcomes, most of which will never happen. Sometimes we imagine the pain of doing something, yet when we actually do it, the actuality is nowhere near as bad as we had previously imagined.
A vivid imagination can also convince you that people are saying bad things about you and your business.
But the fact is that others are not thinking about you, so why delude yourself that they are? The harsh truth is that they probably don’t care about your new business, and barely think of it from one month to another.
The best way I have found to lessen the incidence of a negative imagination pattern is to go back to my vision and goals – and get excited about them all over again. In no time flat my imagination is being deployed in a productive way – I’m moving forward once more. Try it!
Ok I admit it. Although I love this one, I don’t practice it every day. Sometimes I wish I did but you know how it is – life gets in the way! But here’s what I’ve found: showing gratitude is good for the soul, and good for the spirit.
One idea is to start a gratitude journal. Make a new entry every day, and you’ll fell mighty good that you did.
Focus On What You’re Good At
This is a big one for me. If I’m finding the going tough I always go back to my core. For me it’s my ability to communicate. I do it via content creation activities such as blog posts, audios and videos. And I also do it by picking up the phone and talking to people.
If I’m feeling flat, de-motivated, or even depressed I’ll get creative and write something, or record a video. Picking up the phone and talking to some clients or leads is also a very powerful antidote to the blues.
Do Something That Scares You
“To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest.” ~ Pema Chodron
Great quote, eh?
Another way of putting it is to get out of your comfort zone. In fact I listened to a podcast the other day. A great marketer, Dennis Brown, was being interviewed by Jaime Tardy on her Eventual Millionaire podcast show and he said exactly that – you can’t move forward until you try different things even if it scares you at first.
I already shared with you my experiences with public speaking and how terrifying it was for me. I am so glad that I finally conquered the fear if for no other reason than I didn’t want the fear to have dominion over me anymore.
Another point – the thinking about it is usually worse than the actual doing. When you finally do it the feeling of triumph over adversity will keep you pumped for days. So go do it!
Cultivate Your Fans
You’ve got some fans, right? Good! You don’t need many. Anymore than one is good. A fan can be a customer or a potential customer. Either way they feel good about you and what you do. So here’s a great idea for you – give them a ‘how’s things?’ call. Take an interest in them, get them talking – but don’t force it. Whatever you do, don’t pitch or sell. The attitude you need to have is one of service.
Often times when I’ve done it I’ve pick up new business. Imagine that, new sales just from taking an interest in people. Even if you don’t get new sales you’ll still feel better for doing it.
Be Careful Who You Associate With
This is a big one. Someone said that we are the sum total of who we associate with. It makes sense to me. If you hang around whingers and whiners chances are some of their crap will rub off onto you. Environment IS important – it does have an impact on your thinking and behavior.
Best advice is to take stock of your friends. If you’ve got a few friends and acquaintances who really are a negative influence, distance yourself from them whilst at the same time cultivating new and better friends. Or to put it another way – invoke the Prosperity Law of Vacuum by creating a space for the good you desire.
Stop Seeking Approval
Some people are so worried about what other people are thinking that they allow it to negatively impact on their decisions and forward direction. So in the words of the Terminator – ‘don’t do dat’! There’s no future in it.
By all means use someone close as a sounding board but to be constantly seeking assurance from people is a sign of weakness, which ultimately will adversely impact on your belief system.
Don’t Agonise – Just Do It
Looks like I’m back to the ‘feel the fear’ message again. But it is vital that you move to an action orientation. It’s good to ponder a decision before you take action, but it is resolutely a bad thing to constantly agonise over a decision. For sure procrastination is a sure sign of self doubt which will ultimately lead to more discouragement. Avoid paralysis of analysis at all costs!
Look to Your Mentors
Having a mentor can work wonderfully well if for no other reason than the mentor becomes your sounding board, which is a very therapeutic thing to do. Ideally your mentor will bring some skills to the table too.
I’ve had a number of mentors over the years. Each one has brought new skills and understandings to the table. I think I’ve benefited hugely from their input.
For instance one mentor showed me how to market big ticket products in the insurance industry. My income quadrupled overnight. Since then I have leveraged that knowledge into other industries.
Another mentor/coach taught me the power of storytelling among other things.
Mentors can hold you accountable and certainly they won’t take any nonsense from you. Because of that your attitude will likely improve a lot, and your self belief will improve markedly. Say goodbye to doubt and discouragement NOW – find yourself a mentor!
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