Wouldn’t it make an incredible difference to our lives if we all had the confidence to act on our dreams, no matter how big or seemingly unattainable they were?
It would be amazing. Life would be so much more fulfilling.
I’m happy to report that there are ways to summon up the courage and confidence you need to take action towards lifelong goals.
First let’s look at 4 key reasons why we DON’T do it :-
- Fear of failure
- Fear of looking stupid (aka worrying about what other people think)
- Failure to believe that we have what it takes
- Thinking I don’t know how
Lets look at how to overcome these one by one…
FEAR OF FAILURE
The only reason we fear failure is because we have been taught to. Think about when you were a really young child. Did you fear making mistakes when you were first trying to walk? No, of course not otherwise you wouldn’t be walking today. You fell down multiple times, yet you felt no embarrassment over your failures and kept trying until you mastered it.
But as we grow, we learn from significant others, and at school, that to make mistakes is bad – something to be avoided. We don’t want that red mark on our school paper. We don’t want the disapproval from those we love all of which happens when we don’t do well and when we make mistakes.
So we learn to fear mistakes. We learn to stop trying new things in case we fail. We learn to be scared to try something that we MAY fail at.
All of this is not very helpful when you want to grow when you want to do something that is beyond your current capability perhaps a long held dream that stretches you beyond where you have gone before. You simply HAVE to be willing to make mistakes to get there.
If you haven’t heard it before, I want you to practise failing forward recognising that every failure is actually a step forward.
“People who fail forward are able to see errors or negative experiences as a regular part of life, learn from them, and then move on.” – John Maxwell, leadership expert.
FEAR OF LOOKING STUPID/WORRYING ABOUT WHAT OTHERS THINK
The truth is that people are not thinking much about you at all. They are too busy worrying about themselves!
We fear looking stupid by risking failure and having people think less of us. Truth is, you will probably do a few dumb things along the way while you are learning but that is totally okay. You will actually earn the respect of others, not their disdain, by having a go.
If anyone does laugh at your attempts, recognise that its their own insecurities causing them to do that – nothing to do with you.
You have to ask yourself, ” Would I rather avoid looking stupid a few times on my way to success at my endeavors, or spend the rest of my life always wondering what would have happened if I had taken that chance I was too afraid to take?”
The pain of regret can be just as painful, if not more than the pain of failure.
FAILURE TO BELIEVE THAT WE HAVE WHAT IT TAKES
Sometimes we just don’t believe we can do it. We lack confidence, and because of it, we shrink back from taking action.
- Confidence Scale
A helpful tool I have used to counteract this while coaching clients is something called the confidence scale, which I learnt from Helen Whitten, a Cognitive Behavioural Coach.
When we look at something we would like to do, we often feel incapable compared to the enormity of it. The reality is that we may have skills and knowledge gaps, but often we are not actually recognising the skills we DO ALREADY POSSESS that will help us attain that dream.
The confidence scale can help us identify where we actually do lack the skills and confidence to do something. We can then systematically work at attacking that area, to build up our confidence and keep moving forward.
When we think about our dream as a whole, we can feel overwhelmed and feel inadequate. But if we break the attainment of that dream down into the required knowledge and skills, we can isolate those were confident in, and those that need improvement. Its then that we realise that the challenge is actually smaller than we first thought.
Looking at the skills required in a step by step fashion and then breaking it down into manageable chunks, one by one we can start working on acquiring the necessary skills, knowledge (or help from others) that we need to work towards that goal.
I want to start a new business but I lack confidence because I’ve never done it before or I’d like to go after a new job but I lack confidence and the skills to get that job/role.
Evaluate the skills you need to start that business/get that job role.
If you don’t know, think about someone else who is already in that business/career & ask them what skills are needed.
List them in a column and rate yourself on a scale of 1-10 against each one, in terms of how confident you feel in that skill. Using the “Starting a business” example, skills required may be Marketing, Book keeping, Website building, Copywriting etc.
Celebrate and recognise the skills where you have an above average confidence. Then take the skill you are least confident in and take the first action towards learning that skill.
I DONT KNOW HOW
Often this is really just an excuse. We are being held back by fear of failure or fear of other peoples opinions, so we tell ourselves that we do not know how to do something, and fail to take action.
The truth is you don’t need to know everything before you start. You just have to know the next step.
Do you think Bill Gates knew how to run a multi-billion dollar company when we got his start working in a school computer room? Of course not. But he got started. The path gets clearer as we move towards it.
And even with the parts of the journey we think we know how to take, we are often wrong, and have to make constant adjustments along the way. The dream stays the same, the goal does not change, but the method or means to get there DOES change depending on many different factors.
JUST TAKE ACTION
Confidence increases as we take action. Success builds upon success. So look for small successes that will build your confidence. As you succeed in doing one small step, so you’ll feel more confident and ready to try another. Don’t think about the huge mountain you have to climb, just the next step that you need to take. Anyone can take just one step. Get started. Today.