Business Struggling? How to Banish Self Doubt and Discouragement

discouragement cat

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.

Read on……

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?

Public speaking

Some people relish the opportunity to get up in front a group and strut their stuff.

But not me.

No siree!

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

  1. Don’t Compare

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.

  1. 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!

  1. Show Gratitude

 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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!

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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!

  1. 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!

If you liked this post please share it on your favorite social media platforms.  Please also leave a comment below.

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22 thoughts on “Business Struggling? How to Banish Self Doubt and Discouragement”

  1. Great read and reminder that in order to progress as people and business owners we must put ourselves outside our comfort zone.

    Love your story about public speaking. I have had to do a few public speakings, it terrified me.

    But… As long as it was a topic I knew a ton about, I was fine. A trick I used was just to focus on how much the people in the room were going to gain from having my knowledge. The fact they were there says they want it, I just needed to provide.

    For some reason even though I have done public speaking I have a hard time getting behind the video camera and pressing record. I know it will grow my business, but it scares me. Something about it being out there for everyone to judge!

    Thanks for this, shared!
    Chris

    1. Hey thanks Chris!

      And sorry for delay in replying

      Yes you’re right about the public speaking thing – it’s best if you know a lot about your topic. At my first first (failed) speaking gig I thought I DID know a lot about my topic, but nerves got the better of me, my mind went blank and my audience lost confidence and respect for me. It was excruciating for them and for me! Fortunately I got back on my bike and the next one I did was much better.

      Re: your issue with video. Here is what you do – feel the fear and do it anyway! I remember the first few vids I recorded were hopeless but I got better over time. Another point is that maybe you’re expecting too much of yourself from the videos you record. The videos dont need to be an Academy Award winning production. Indeed the videos that work the best for me are rough and ready direct to camera videos – raw, authentic, real. People like that

      Another option is to prepare a Powerpoint presentation and just do the voiceover (I know a guy who was terrified of fronting a camera, so for the first 18 months all he did was use PP presentations. That was 3 years ago – today he makes 8 figures.)

      Hope this helps

      Kim

  2. Hey Kim!

    I used to have issues with confidence and like you, I too shared a fear of public speaking.

    I am not sure how or why, but one day I just seemed to stop caring what other people think. At all. I used to come up with some image I wanted people to think of me, an image that they’d think was great. Then I realized that was a waste of time, and it made it hard for me to really connect with people anyway. Now I’m just myself. If people don’t like that, oh well. I don’t care about them. The people that can connect with me and my style will stick around, and those that can’t, won’t.

    I really support all of these ideas, but I especially support the idea of doing something that scares you. That is how we grow as people – overcoming challenges. Most people shy away from fear. They are afraid to take calculated risks. And they never reap the rewards as a result. The fear stays with them, and forces them to live a limited life.

    No thanks.

    – James McAllister

  3. Having the feelings of self doubt can really create a lot set back for someone if not handled with great care.

    I also find myself in such situation from time to time and i understand exactly how it feels. Yes, i agree with the idea of always doing that which terrifies you the most, just give fear a big blow in the face and it will let you be.

    Its not always easy but getting up and doing it anyway will put you at a higher edge and fear will be shamed.

    1. Hi Theodore

      Great to see you here!

      Yes, you are right – it’s not always easy but you have to bounce back and do it anyway. You do it because the alternative (being a person who is consumed by fear) is way too horrible. Anyone who achieved anything in life has done it on the back of riding the fear monster and controlling it

      thanks again Theodore

      Kim

  4. Hi Kim,

    Great article on facing our fears and moving forward in our life. I’m not a public speaker by any means and maybe some day I will try it. I’ve never been asked.

    The first thing I do if I get depressed is I make up a gratitude list and find the good things far out weight the bad things and you made that suggestion in a different manor.

    Facing fear is the best way to move through it, just do it. It makes us feel so much better. that we have taken over the reins and take action. We will get through it.

    Thank you for sharing, Kim and you have a wonderful week!

    Linda

    1. Hi Linda

      It’s great to learn that you use a gratitude list – the perfect antidote for the blues!

      Yes you are right about the fear thing. Sure it can be painful when we experience fear, but the downside of NOT confronting it is worse than the fear itself. Fearful people are always underachievers because their fear prevents them from having breakthroughs, and reaching their full potential. What a shame, what a waste!

      Great to see you here again Linda!

      Kim

      never

  5. Hi Kim,

    What a powerful, powerful post of transparency and integrity.

    Personally, I’m a very confident person and doing new things excites me, speaking excites, and opportunities excite me.

    But not heading some of your advices is just as applicable for me and by not doing so I’ve gotten myself into trouble.

    For example, I really identified with your point on be careful who you associate with. Several years ago I got into a partnership and I thought I could trust this person but the truth was I didn’t do my homework and I ended up being surrounded by people who did not share my values.

    As a result it sent my into a nearly eighteen month spiral that took me several years to recover from. There wasn’t anyone to really blame other than myself.

    It hurt my confidence, swagger and for a time my reputation even. But, as with all things, I know who I am and what I can do and three years later the opportunities are just astounding.

    Who you associate with is HUGE and often under-looked and under-evaluated. You can be sure I won’t make that mistake again.

    Curb your imagination was another big one for me. I’m an optimist so I always see the opportunities and I’ve had to temper over the years my rosey glasses.

    I loved this post Kim! Thanks so much for sharing so openly. Someone needs to read what you have to share!!!!!

    Have a great second half to your week!

    ~ Don Purdum

    1. Hi Don

      Thanks once again for your positive and aspirational message.

      I totally agree with you that associating with the right people is a hugely important issue. I’ve had a similar experience to you and am still recovering from it. And whilst I take full responsibility for surrounding myself with the wrong people (one of whom was a liar and a thief), the bad effects their actions had on my business certainly contributed to its downfall.

      Love your point about rose colored glasses. Creative people and marketing people wear them a lot! But this is no bad thing – it enables us to ‘see’ possibilities that few others can. The world needs people like us Don! (We just need to perhaps temper our enthusiasm sometimes, and also look at worst case scenarios – if we can live with that, let’s go for it!)

      Thanks again Don!

      Kim

  6. Kim- You have hit on very good points. The two that stand out for me is Focus On What You’re Good At. Some many people have asked why my business works. I tell them because I know from experience that service, service and more service works. The other one is not to compare. No one is like you so each of us have something to unique to offer. Just be yourself and the rest will come

    1. Hi Arleen

      Thanks for your comment!

      Yes you are right. We’re not good at everything so why not take the line of least resistance and focus on what we ARE good at? Perhaps when people do that, they’ll stop comparing themselves to others.

      Great to read of your attitude about service. This is the best way to turn mere customers into raving fans and you are obviously doing that in a very committed way.

      Thans again Arleen

      Kim

  7. Hi Kim and thanks for sharing you,

    You displayed great courage in sharing these very personal experiences in your life. I just felt so much for you on that first night of public speaking when those accountants got up and left the room – right in front of you. Man oh man that took courage to vkeep going mate.

    with your permission I would like to share this post with my list as just recently I received some feedback from folks who lacked self confidence – this post will be inspirational for them.

    I have also shared it as widely as possible as I truly think there are just so many people who can and will really benefit from reading this post.

    Finally I think ther key issue is point 9 – “Don’t agonise..just do it!’…with some help from guys like you!

    All the best from Thailand

    Peter

    1. Hi Peter

      Welcome back!

      Thanks so much for your kinds words and yes, by all means share the post.

      In regards tio courage I am not a particularly courageous person. The fact I have avoided ‘manning’ up on the issue of public speaking for so long is proof positive of that. Basically I am a wimp! But there comes a time in every persons life when they must say ‘enough is enough’, and on that issue I’d had enough of letting my fear control me.

      I still have other fears that need to be confronted such as a fear of heights, and a fear of spiders. The first one I reckon I can fix, but spiders? Never!

      Thanks again Peter

      Kim

  8. Hi Kim,

    Oooh it could have been me writing much of your article, I can relate so closely to many of the points you made. Thanks for your pointers to improve self-confidence.

    Your story about public speaking brought back the memory of my first public speaking event. I was working in the IT support department at a university, and it was determined that I should give a lecture to post-grads on the operating system currently in use. (In those days computers were massive things in air-conditioned rooms, tended by multiple slaves – of which I was one.)

    Well – petrified is only half way to describe it. I was in my early 20s and they were far more highly qualified than I was. But there was no escape.

    So – you know the glass of water that lecturers have – well mine was a generous glass of gin and lime. I got through the talk but I don’t remember much about it LOL. Lucky uni environments are pretty relaxed, but let’s just say I was never asked to do another one!

    Today – videos terrify me, and every video I have done ends up in the recycle bin 🙂

    Joy

    1. Oh Joy, that is hilarious – love it!

      Your first talk fueled by gin and lime!

      Perhaps that’s what I should have done on that fateful day of my first public speaking gig, although doing it at 9am just wouldn’t have felt right.

      Re: your point about videos………

      Trust me Joy – videos are way easier than public speaking. One way to do is simply to use a Powerpoint presentation and you just do the voice over. I know a guy who did that for years until he got enough confidence to front the camera. Another point is that my my most popular videos have been of the rough and ready variety – they’re anything but perfect. But people like them because they’re real and authentic. Give it a try!

      Kim

  9. Thanks for sharing another incredibly powerful post Kim!

    Your ten separate suggestions, if consistently followed, will
    definitely anyone whose sincere, move forward in a really big way!

    But I gotta tell (or ) remind you, for whatever reasons, most people for
    some reason, still rate fear of “public speaking” higher than their fear
    of dying!LOL!

    Your wonderful advice in # 5, may be hard pressed for them!LOL!

    But without a doubt, it’s excellent advice! Thanks for sharing another
    excellent post and I’ll definitely share it!

    1. Hi Mark,

      Yep – public speaking for most of us is scary!

      I avoided doing it for a very long time until I finally made the decision to confront the fear once and for all – and just do it.

      A lot of good came from that decision – it gave me confidence to tackle other demons. But sill can’t overcome my fear of heights, and spiders! ha ha

      Thanks Mark

      Kim

  10. Great post, Kim! This is one of the hardest parts of being in business … and it’s also the thing not too many people are psyched to talk about. There are good days and bad ones. I’m finding that forcing myself to go ahead and overcome those scary things helps a lot. I need to set up a workshop so I can get more practice with that whole public speaking thing … 😀 I’m starting small with video for now.

    1. Hi Rachel

      Thanks for dropping by.

      Yes for sure – building a business can be tough at times. The hard part is to stay positive when we experience setbacks. The key is to find ways to get our creative juices going again. Being creative and expansive is the best way I’ve found to counteract the dark thoughts (that regularly invade my little brain!).

      Public speaking, even fronting a webinar, is a good thing to do. Look at it as a learning opportunity!

      Kim

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