Fear of failure is the enemy of confidence
When a business owner feels stuck and can’t move forward, external factors might appear to be the cause, but if we really get real, when we dig down deep, it’s the internal factors, our own mindset, that actually control what we do. In my work with entrepreneurs and business owners, I have found that confidence, or lack of confidence, contributes just as much to our success as do knowledge and resources.
Why is confidence so important to success in business?
Because what we think and feel influences the actions that we take. And the actions we take directly impact the results that we get.
For example, imagine you have a sales call with a prospective client. At the end of the sales call, you agree that the prospect will get back to you in a few days. But you don’t hear from the prospect, so you call and leave a message. The prospect doesn’t return your call.
Scenario 1: Suppose you tell yourself that you did a terrible job of showing the prospect the value of your offering. You decide that you totally messed up, you are a terrible sales person, and clearly they are not interested in speaking with you again. Based on those thoughts, what action do you take?
Perhaps you don’t take any action at all. You decide it’s a lost cause, and you don’t follow up again. You don’t hear back from the prospect, and you don’t get the sale.
Scenario 2: Suppose you tell yourself that you had a great conversation with the prospect, and you know that your offering is exactly what they need. You are not sure why you haven’t heard back from them, but you are confident if you can speak with them again, you can show them the value of your offering and close the sale. Based on those thoughts, what action do you take?
Perhaps you decide that you will continue to follow up until you get a response telling you that they are either not interested, or they would like to speak again. You send a few more emails, and eventually you receive an email back apologizing that they have not gotten back to you, but they had an unexpected issue come up at work and this is the first free minute they have had. The prospect sets up a time to speak with you again, asks some questions, and decides to move forward with you.
Variations of these two scenarios happen every day in business
We don’t move forward with a new initiative, we don’t pursue a sale, we don’t hire the employees we need to grow, we stay in the safety zone, waiting for the “right” time to take a risk. We tell ourselves really good stories about why we are not moving forward, but the real reason is often a lack of confidence, created by fear of failure.
Sometimes we confide in others that we don’t feel confident, and our well meaning friends and colleagues try to bolster us with words like “you got this” and “have confidence in yourself.” Unfortunately, those words rarely make us feel much better. It’s easy for someone to tell you to have more confidence. It’s another thing to actually feel it.
What if you had tools at your fingertips to build the confidence you need to pursue your dreams and goals? What would be possible?
Tools to Build Your Confidence
I. Face your fear of failure
Fear of failure is the enemy of confidence. If you can face down your fear of failure, you can build your confidence.
Years ago I was asked the question, “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?” It was an empowering question, but one that bothered me on a certain level as well. The question felt artificial, as there are very few scenarios where failure is impossible.
So I came up with a couple of different questions.
“What would you do if you knew that you had the strength and ability to bounce back from any failure?”
“What would you do if you believed that failure was a learning experience on your path to success?”
In other words, bolster your confidence that you can handle failure, and failure becomes less scary.
Follow these 3 steps to combat your fear of failure and build confidence:
Step 1: Think back to a time when you failed at something. How did it feel?
I’m guessing it didn’t feel good. Maybe you felt embarrassment, or shame, or guilt. Maybe you internalized it and felt like you yourself were a failure. All of those feelings are normal. And its totally normal to want to avoid feeling like that again!
Step 2: Once you acknowledge how you felt, ask yourself, “what did I do to pick myself up and bounce back?”
“What did I learn from that experience?”
Unless you are still sitting on the ground, unable to get up to this day, you did something to bounce back from that failure. The next time you are tempted to avoid failure by playing it safe, remind yourself that you are strong enough to handle it if the worst case scenario happens and you fail.
Step 3: Once you are confident that you can handle failure, try focusing on how you will handle success! What you focus on gets bigger, so the more you focus on the path to success, the greater the probability that you will achieve it.
II. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable
These words are hanging on my bulletin board above my desk. We don’t make progress in our lives by staying in our comfort zone.
I recently asked a group of business owners whether they thought one needs to feel confident in order to take action and move forward towards what you want. The answer was overwhelmingly “no.”
And yet, so many of us let our discomfort stop us from taking action. We make excuses to cover up our lack of confidence. And we do ourselves a giant disservice.
I realized many years ago that the only times I have ever made progress in my life, or achieved a big goal, has been when I got out of my comfort zone. For the most part, the results have been extremely positive.
I am sure you have heard the expression “no pain, no gain.” I often remind myself that I can handle some discomfort in order to continue to grow and develop. The next time you find yourself tempted to stay in your comfort zone, ask yourself how much discomfort you would be willing to tolerate in order to achieve your goals.
III. Use definable processes in your business that produce consistent results
For example, if you sell a service, create a step by step process for delivering that service, that consistently achieves the goals of your clients.
If you are creating new products or services, use a process to determine what products or services your target market wants to purchase.
Repeatable processes create certainty and ensure consistent quality.
Business coaching is a great example of this. Before I developed the Pumpkin Plan Action Guide with Mike Michalowicz, I did not always feel confident that I could help my clients get the results they wanted. I didn’t have a predictable process, so I was always fearful that this time I wouldn’t have the right answers or know what to do in certain situations.
Once we developed a step by step business growth program, and I saw that the process delivered consistently great results, I was able to enroll clients with complete confidence. And I was able to teach other business coaches how to use the program to do the same.
IV. Develop a niche market and a niche offering.
You might be wondering what this has to do with confidence. Confidence comes from a sense of mastery. And mastery comes from being able to focus and specialize.
A big part of The Pumpkin Plan strategy is to focus in on your Top Client Niche. When you are trying to serve “everyone,” every situation is different. It is difficult to feel confident because you are constantly learning something new. You can never take a really deep dive into the needs of your client or customer.
When you serve a niche market, however, you get to know them really well. Whether you are selling a product or service, you see the same questions, the same problems, the same wants and needs over and over again. Your customers have a similar mindset, and the same reasons for purchasing your offering.
When you serve a niche market, you can become a specialist. You gain mastery in your market. You are the expert, the “go to” product or service for that market. Your expertise, your sense of mastery, will give you the confidence you need to keep moving forward.
The catch, of course, is that we need to take action first, before we build our expertise. Which is why we start by facing our fear of failure and finding confidence in our ability to bounce back and figure it out.
Courage is not the absence of fear, it is feeling the fear and doing it anyway.
You got this! 😉
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