Originally published October 11, 2011
Some of the best artists I know are the ones who know their abilities, and spare no expense to let others know what they’re about. I love connecting with them because I always learn something new from them, either about the technical, artistic, or business side of their craft. I also enjoy talking with those who have great earning potential as artists and probably even want to make a living in their art, but who sadly don’t consider themselves “professional.” When I press them about their meaning of professional, their answers inevitably point to lack of belief in their own abilities. What sets them apart from the others? Simply put, the others radiate self-confidence!
In business, one main trait that makes the difference between having great ideas and acting on those ideas comes down to self-confidence. How many ideas have you recorded or shared are off and running already? How many never even made it out of the gate? What separates them? If you’re honest with yourself, you may come up with many reasons that some ideas manifested while others died on the drawing board. All in all, though, lack of confidence in your own ability to get ideas across probably killed many of those lost treasures.
How does this trait fit into the entrepreneur’s toolbox? How can one ooze self-confidence and build a viable business? Simply by making self-confidence one of the many building blocks on which a savvy business owner – even a new one – develops other skills and traits. So far in this series, we’ve touched on problem-solving, decision-making, goal-setting, and planning. Notice how these skills rely on one another and even build on one another?
Problem-solvers possess the basic talent required in making decisions. Decision-makers have the authority to call the shots in the problem-solving process. Problem-solvers also use specific skills and methods to set clear, realistic goals that require careful planning. Proper goal-setting helps identify and solve critical problems, and planning is necessary to design a path of action to reach those goals. With a clearly defined path, or plan, ideas have a much stronger chance of being accepted. In short, proper planning helps boost confidence in an idea, product, or service!
Beyond that, budding business owners need to know that their ideas matter. Aspiring entrepreneurs must learn to value themselves, their abilities, and their ideas. One client whom I advised some years ago used to handle accounts receivables while I helped her devise a system for accounts payable. The reason she told me she wanted to handle that aspect personally was that she felt she was very skilled at dealing with customers and at getting them to pay fully in a timely fashion. She was right. That was one of her strong suites, and what helped her get the job done properly was her confidence that she could.
Look at the effects on the other end of the spectrum; the enthusiasts I mentioned in the intro who wouldn’t describe themselves as professional almost never outright say they don’t feel capable. They don’t outright tell me their work is lousy or that they don’t know how to deal with customers. They usually point to their tools as the reason they don’t consider themselves professional artists. But what are they really saying? What do the tools symbolize?
A colleague introduced me to this concept that later became the subject of a work-related training: BE > DO > HAVE versus HAVE > DO > BE. Confidence is the former: I AM an artist, so I DO what artists do, and I will HAVE what I want out of it. Self-doubt goes the other way: If I HAVE the tools I want, I will be able to DO what artists do, and I will BE an artist. The tools symbolize the basis on which people with little self-confidence base their faith in their own abilities to be who they say they are or who they want to be.
Do you see the problem with their hang-up on artists’ tools? IF I HAVE THIS TOOL, I will do artist-like things and eventually become an artist. As long as they tell prospective clients that they’re not professional artists even though they want to be, those clients will go elsewhere for the ones already calling themselves professional. Those who wallow in self-doubt will forever wait to earn enough money to get the tools they believe will make them professionals.
Self-aware folks recognize that it is their ability to perform their craft, to render their product or service, to interact warmly with customers, to handle business affairs, and to work resourcefully through tough times that make them professional. No matter which tools are in the chest and which gear is in the bag, they feel and know themselves to be professional. They act on that belief. They exonerate true professionalism. They eventually have what they’re after.
Take a moment to assess your self-confidence. On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being most confident, where do you weigh in? Are you giving yourself credit where due? Are you working fervently to improve in areas you acknowledge as weak? Are you balancing your strengths and weaknesses as a way to recognize and act on the knowledge, skills, and abilities you already possess? Share your thoughts, ideas, and professional insights in comments. We look forward to hearing from you, so share confidently!