June 17, 2020 07:17
How to Deal With The Lack Of Self Confidence As An Independent Consultant?
Developing A Successful Consulting Mindset
'Whether you think you can, or you think you can't, you're right.'
- Henry Ford, automotive entrepreneur
If there’s a thing that kills the consulting business is the lack of self-confidence.
It is definitely the biggest roadblock to success. But why is self-confidence so essential?
Let’s take the following example: you want to buy a new smartphone and are engaging with the seller in a passionate discussion about the features of your new toy. Imagine now that the seller is heavily sweating, looking at his feet, and blushing more and more at each new question. What do you think about him? « Maybe there’s something he doesn’t to tell me? It there any issue with this device he wants to hide ?... and so on ». So you’re becoming suspicious. When you were looking at the dealer website you were quite confident to buy this device and finally, the seller raised doubts. He didn’t say anything wrong, but his attitude makes you feel bad. His discomfort becomes your discomfort.
Since relationships work as mirrors, if you want someone to trust you and be confident enough to work with you, you need to show confidence in what you can deliver. Attitude creates Perception. But if confidence is critical, overconfidence is brittle. Like in many areas, the key is to find a good balance.
Looking for « self-confidence » in the dictionary, I found the following definition: self-confidence comes from the Latin « cum » meaning « with » and « fidere » meaning « faith », so self-confidence can be translated by « to have faith in you, to have faith in your potential ».
But this definition is incomplete.
What it’s missing in the dictionary definition is the following :
« Self-confidence is not an innate status and can’t be taken for granted. Self-confidence is a particular mindset many species learn to acquire little by little, step by step facing the experiences of life ».
So coming back to the start of your consultancy activity, you’ll hear yourself making the following statements :
« I’m not good enough to perform this consulting mission. »
« In any case, I don’t know enough on this subject to be called an expert »
« Knowing everything on my field is impossible ».
And there lies an important myth we need to break up, It’s the myth of the link between self-confidence and competence, or so-called « Impostor Syndrome ».
People usually think they need to be competent to gain self-confidence. In fact, since they know exactly what to do and when to do it, there’s going to gain faith in their capabilities and then proceed with the correct action. In fact, this assumption seems to be correct and based on pure logic.
So why I’m telling you that you’re thinking in the wrong way?
First, because expertise is not something on the paper, theories, and piles of books great consultants have learned by heart and then expose to their customers. Experts are experts because they’ve experienced and taken action. In fact, they know what has failed previously, learned from it, and know what to do to adjust the situation in the future to not fail again. The worst experience in a short term view is always the best one in the long term view: the more painful and disastrous is an experience, the more we learn from it in order to avoid making the same mistakes and live the same feelings again.
So paradoxically, the more you fail, the more you succeed.
Second, because the causal line between competence and self-confidence is reversed. If you observe people who experience a high level of success, you’ll discover that their mode of action is based on the following sequence. First, they start believing they have an inner and high potential to accomplish great things in life. They are firmly convinced of this fact. This potential is for the moment « latent », waiting to be fired up. Since the only way to express a potential is to act on it, they finally take action. These actions finally lead to great outcomes because since these people trust in their potential, they take massive and focus action. Achieving great outcomes, they reinforce their faith in their own capabilities « Since I’ve accomplished this task and overcome this obstacle, I must be capable to achieve more. Let’s try something harder to reach the next level ». And little by little, step by step, they go out of their comfort zone and grow in expertise.
I’m going to be direct with you: consulting clients are not looking for perfection, they’re looking for solutions and results. Nobody knows everything about his field of expertise, and this is totally normal. In fact, this is what is really enjoyable with this choice of life as an independent consultant: you are continuously learning and experimenting with new things. What makes greatness is not perfection, but a willingness to put ourselves on the line as a way of life.
So what are the concrete solutions to increase my self-confidence?
- Start Taking Action. In life, we all wait for the perfect moment to act. The right moment to have children, the perfect summer to go on holidays in this beautiful country we’ve wanted to discover for so long, the right dinner to propose our lover. You need to stop waiting for the perfect moment because there’s no such thing as a perfect moment. It doesn’t exist. Stop over-analyzing and just take action. You’re the one creating the moment, not Life.
- Change Your Posture And Your Breathing. The brain contains an area that reflects trust. So once this zone is activated, it doesn't really matter how it is activated and it is impossible for the brain to distinguish between true trust and trust that comes only from standing up straight. So stop bowing your head and your shoulders, stand up and look in front of you. In the same way, researchers have discovered that the lack of oxygen creates stress and a diminution of self-confidence. Use to take a deep and long breath. If you seem in confidence, you’re in confidence. Motion creates emotion.
- Focus On Your Capabilities. Yes, you’re not an expert in consulting but you’re not new to your field either. Remember past good moments. Something has already worked for you. You’ve already performed a lot of things in your job and your personal life. When I started working in Belgium as a salesman in my twenties, my boss urged me to know how to play Texas Hold’em poker game. He told me that it will help me not only in sales but also in life in general. And it took me a while to figure why. The principle of Texas Hold’em is the following. First, you are dealt two hole cards. Then comes the flop, turn, and river cards, cards that everyone may incorporate in his hand. Texas Hold’em is the reflection of Life. Anyone of us is born with particular features (the two hole cards): a certain intelligence, a certain physique, certain health. It’s just a chance. You can begin with a pair of aces or a mismatch seven and a ten. We’re not all models and genius. And then Life turns new cards on the table you need to deal with. Each card that is turned over is a new choice to play or not. A new event you face. The biggest mistake in poker is to wait for the last card (The River) to make something valuable and get the perfect combination. In fact, the key is already in your hand since the beginning of the game and it’s your choice to take the lead or not. Stop comparing you to others and just make the most of your own game.
- Step Back And Put Things Into Perspective. As Dawn Gluskin says « Don’t take life too seriously! Nobody gets out alive anyway ». Life is a game you’re going to lose at the end and it’s good to remember it sometimes. We’re not here to ask ourselves, God (or any divinity you believe in) why we’re on Earth but to find and give answers to the question. People often forget to take pleasure in what they do, just stepping back a little to have a view on the global picture. We’re not here for long, and we do not have a second chance. So why are you waiting to make something big with the life you can be proud of?
- Stop Finding Excuses. According to Mel Robbins, our brain needs only 5 seconds to find an excuse. Before this, you are able to make any possible action because it’s not related to rational thinking. So count backward, and take immediate action before finding excuses. Some people I coach come also to me saying they’re too old to be an independent consultant. There’s no excuse for aging. A man can be active up to 80 years old, so make the maths. Even if you’re 50, you can achieve your dreams. It’s never too late. Realizing your dream and be aligned with who you are deep inside will always make you young. Some people prefer to blame others or situations. When you discuss with them, they always have an explanation for anything that didn’t go well for them. Please take responsibility. You’re not a child anymore.
- Stop Limiting Yourself & Rewire Your Brain. We often forget that our brain is locked in a cage. Totally in the dark. Our brain is a complex and incredible black box that translates the stimuli perceived by our senses into something rational. In fact, we don't have access to reality, it's a transcription of the environment that our brain translates and send us. This is why if you taste a wine with closed eyes, it’s not even possible to determine if it’s white or red wine! A sense is missing and the brain is lost in translation. Since nothing exists outside our brain, don’t limit yourself by your own beliefs. Rewire your brain by changing your perception and create new unlimited powers. Go out and look at nature. You’ll observe that only human being does not go to the maximum of his potential. All the other beings on the planet do it.
- You’re Already Who You Can Become. The inner power is there since your birth, waiting to be ignited. Your future you is just waiting for you to be uncomfortable. Learn to be comfortable in the uncomfortable. Whatever you’re destined to become is not ahead of you but within you. A gift is an inherited capacity to fulfill a function. The future of a seed is not outside the seed: everything is already in it to become a tree. This is the part of fate you need to believe in: God or the Universe, the choice is yours.
- Learn The Power of Visualization. Outside training, high-performance sportsmen use to practice visualization. Closing their eyes, they see themselves performing the perfect shot at soccer, smoothly taking the curve in bobsleigh, performing the perfect rep in bodybuilding. Researchers have shown that the brain can’t make the difference between a visualized moment and a real moment, the body reacting in the exact same way. Successful people project themselves into a future that will come true and convince themselves it has already happened. Don’t expect that something may happen. Realize it in your mind and focus on what and how perfectly things are going to happen. The more I am sure that this will happen in an exact manner I’m thinking about, the more my confidence level increases.
To be a successful consultant, you need to assert yourself.
You assume that you can do THE thing, speak to THE person, and get access to THE information.
And because you assume, you finally DO.
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