How I Built My Confidence With Practical Tactics
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I remember it like it was yesterday.
The crowds were gathered. The spotlight was lit. And my knees kept time with my nerves.
I was going to tell a room full of people my idea.
The words were coming, but I couldn’t hear them over the sound of my heart beating in my ears. Imposter Syndrome had found me. It wasn’t exactly a friendly intruder –– and it wasn’t leaving anytime soon.
Fast forward 20 years, and I still have to speak over the noise inside my head. But once I learned how to disable the deafening voices of doubt, I could tap into my confidence and accomplish my goals without Imposter Syndrome having the last word.
Here are five practical strategies that helped me build back my confidence, increase my influence and beat Imposter Syndrome.
1. I began to own my experience
When I first started my business, I was constantly second-guessing myself.
Was this product really needed? Did anyone care about what I had to say? What am I even doing here?
To this day, I still remember debating the color scheme of my website for weeks, and I didn’t want to get it wrong. After all, I grew up with the idea that first impressions mattered. And what if yellow was a better choice than red?
Imposter Syndrome made me question everything, and I started to wonder if I would ever be able to go beyond my doubts and fears.
One day, I finally threw up my hands in surrender and moved forward. I was tired of listening to my inner critic and losing confidence, and I decided the risk was better than regret. And that I would rather live with the consequences of taking a chance and crashing than spend the rest of my life wondering, “What if?”
So, I stepped away from the sidelines and started to own my experience –– the good, the bad and the ugly. I realized that being an entrepreneur wasn’t just about owning a business but owning my experience. This was my adventure. And I didn’t want fear to stop me from writing my own story.
Related: 10 Successful Leaders Share Their Struggles with Imposter Syndrome and How to Overcome It
2. I created an environment that allowed me to fail
This seemed utterly counterintuitive in the beginning, and I honestly felt crazy for even embracing this idea. But once I permitted myself to fail, I was able to succeed.
This sense of welcomed risk empowered me to view my business as a journey of teachable moments. There were turns, pivots and potholes. And it was far from being safe. But this was the freeing part of it. When I let myself aim for progress over perfection, I could leverage each experience and make my product better.
The risk forced me to focus on evolving my business and developing my leadership. It also lessened my Imposter Syndrome. When I concentrated on building a business without fear, I was able to improve with each iteration.
I wasn’t guarding my company. I was growing my company.
Related: Imposter Syndrome Will Kill Your Business
3. I learned to ask for help
I remember the first time I asked for help. Two weeks after I started my consulting agency, I was at the end of my rope. Imposter Syndrome had me so paralyzed that I couldn’t think straight ––let alone write a single pitch to potential clients.
I was ready to dissolve my company and just call it quits. But, before I filled out the paperwork, I decided to do a Hail Mary. I didn’t want to give up before giving it one more chance. So, I reached out to an old mentor.
I asked him if he could help me get unstuck and give me some tips to refocus, and he didn’t even hesitate. Before I finished my spiel, he reminded me that I wasn’t alone and that every person on the planet dealt with doubt.
He didn’t judge me or tell me that I was overreacting. My mentor just listened and reminded me that I was in good company.
Something was freeing about that moment –– knowing that I wasn’t the only one suffering through Imposter Syndrome. I needed to hear those words from my mentor. The positive post-it notes were an excellent accompaniment, but the only way to silence my inner critic was to listen to someone who could speak over the noise.
Related: A 5-Step Approach to Managing Imposter Syndrome
4. I started believing in myself again
After I started building my confidence, Imposter Syndrome had less power over me. Now, this didn’t happen overnight. I don’t want you to get the idea that with one twitch of your nose or nod of your head, you can make this ugly monster disappear. It’s not magic.
But it’s like checking the doors of your house before you go to sleep. You know that you locked them. But as a habit, you double-check to make sure that you’re safe before settling in for the night. The same is true for dealing with Imposter Syndrome.
When you start to believe in yourself again, it’s like locking the doors –– you make it near impossible for fear to come in without an invitation.
Today, Imposter Syndrome is still a part of my life, but it doesn’t own me like it used to.
I’ve learned how to lock the doors, silence the doubt and believe in my abilities –– I no longer allowed my fear to be my worst enemy.
5. I learned to start every day
Imposter Syndrome is a master at convincing us to wait until we have more information, the right team in place or our idea fully vetted.
But here’s the truth. You will never be ready –– and you’ll never feel fully confident.
I got caught in this trap for years. I thought I had to have all my ducks in a row, cross every “t,” and dot every “i” before I could start. But this type of mindset was self-defeating, and it was keeping me from moving forward.
This is why I decided to just concentrate on doing something every day. No matter how small of an effort. It could be writing one sentence or editing a video. I didn’t care what it was, but something had to get done –– regardless of Imposter Syndrome’s snide remarks about my capabilities.
And over time, I learned to lean into progress instead of being caught in perfectionism. Imposter Syndrome stopped dictating my actions, and I became more confident in myself, which allowed me to take bigger risks when the opportunity presented itself.
If you’re trapped in Imposter Syndrome’s vicious cycle, start writing one sentence. One action ––no matter how small –– will move you in the right direction and help you build the confidence you need to take risks and become a thriving entrepreneur.