One of the major things that I struggled with in my engineering job was confidence. For about 5 years I would always worry whether I would sound stupid, and I would feel awful if I made a mistake. I was definitely my own worst enemy!
Then over the course of a few weeks it all changed. At the time I didn’t realise the change had happened or what caused it, but with hindsight I can put it all down to one crazy moment.
It may sound odd but this moment was when I did a stand up comedy gig.
One of the things that has always terrified me is doing stand up comedy. The idea of standing up on stage, alone, trying to make people laugh is enough to make me want to pee myself. Mainly because I don’t think of myself as funny, AT ALL. I’ve always had this terrifying slow-motion nightmare of people staring at me blankly, then pointing and shouting “get off the stage”. It was a HUGE fear for me.
One day, in a moment that I can only put down to insanity, I allowed a friend to sign me up to perform at a stand-up comedy night.
Over the following days panic and anxiety took over. I desperately wanted to back out. “why the hell did I do this to myself!?”
Somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind though, there was a very quiet voice that said “do it. You need to do this”.
So I worked up the courage to write my jokes and forced myself to go for it.
For the whole day of the gig I was terrified.
In the moments leading up to my slot I couldn’t sit still. I felt sick and went to the toilet at least 10 times.
I went over my jokes again, and again and again and again.
Until my name was called. It was time.
I stepped on stage and saw all those faces staring at me. I took a breath and started.
I would love to be able to say that I smashed it, that the whole room was in fits of laughter. They weren’t. BUT they were entertained, nobody booed me off and I DID get some laughs. I didn’t bomb! I survived!
Straight after I felt like a rabbit in headlights, recovering from a traumatic experience. But the thing I noticed the day after was the strange sense of freedom.
I had done the ONE thing that totally terrified me and I was still there! Holy moly, if I can do that…what else can I do!!?
That one moment of facing my fears and being a pretty average stand up comedian changed everything.
My mindset shifted because I realised what I was capable of.
Suddenly, the things that terrified me at work didn’t scare me as much. Because what could be worse than standing on stage trying to make strangers laugh!?
After that I saw fear and stepping outside my comfort zone as a very beneficial thing.
This mindset shift, seeing fear as beneficial, has the power to completely change your life. It propels your confidence and boosts you up far more than any external validation you might get by being told “well done” by your boss.
When you know inside that you can do something that scares you, THAT is where true confidence comes from.
The fastest way to gain confidence in your job is to challenge yourself outside of work – continuously.
No matter what you struggle with at work, fear of failure, sounding stupid or being different, if you can face some fears outside of work you will feel more empowered in yourself. Your mindset will shift, and your daily worries and anxieties will quieten.
And you don’t need to start with something big. You can start small. That’s fine too. What’s important is that you regularly push yourself out of your comfort zone outside of work.
So if you’re looking for a confidence boost try this activity right now:
Confidence Boosting Activity
Grab a pad of paper and answer the following:
- When was the last time you felt scared about doing something? Whether doing a presentation at work, or starting a new hobby.
- How did you feel afterwards? What adjectives can you use to describe the feeling?
- Make a list of at least 15 things that you’ve thought about doing but feel nervous so haven’t yet. Such as going live on Facebook, writing a blog, asking your boss for feedback, applying for an award or anything.
- Is there one that you can complete TODAY? Right now, in this very moment. If yes, DO IT. I mean it. I’m here as your cheerleader, sign up to that course, write that blog, contact that person.
- Challenge yourself to face at least 3 of your fears over the next 3 months. Commit to taking action by putting a deadline onto each of them and putting this in your diary. YOU CAN DO IT!
And if you’re currently working from home check out my tips that your boss won’t have told you!