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From networking to pitching, confidence is key. Some people have it: the gift of the gab. Some of us go through parts of our journey where we lose it, and some of us struggle to find it at all.
I can’t say that I am going to help you find your confidence or get it back, because everyone’s journey is different. But I will share a part of my journey where I lost my confidence; I’ll share how I found it and five things I learnt along the way. If you’ve lost your confidence or are trying to recover it, I hope something I say might be of use and, as always, do feel free to share you insights and thoughts with me via Twitter (@AlexDEMitchell).
There was a point a few years ago when I felt like I hit rock bottom and totally lost all my confidence. I felt useless and was struggling to pick myself up and motivate myself. I felt lost and couldn’t see the route forward.
It was my wife who told me I needed to do something totally different from what I was used to. “It had better be something that bloody scares you or don’t bother,” she said. So I did a stand up comedy course for three months, with the London Comedy School. It finished with me having to do three five minute open mic sets at different comedy clubs around London.
I have raced downhill mountain bikes, abseiled dams and buildings, and dived with sharks – but having to stand up in front of 150+ people you don’t know and get them to laugh was petrifying. Especially when they don’t laugh at a joke and you still had four minutes left of your set!
But I got through it, I got some laughs and I loved it. I have even been and done a few more open mic sets since!
So what did I learn? It took me right out of my comfort zone and proved to myself that I could do something I had never done before. Did it help me get my confidence back? Hell yes. It shook me up and got me out of my rut.
Five quick takeaways from my journey:
So you’ve lost your confidence? Don’t worry, it happens to all of us at times. It isn’t the end of the world. It might feel like the world has fallen away below you and you are on your own, but you aren’t. Plenty have been there before you. You will get it back, and you will be stronger.
Sadly there are people out there who want to bring you down. Haters suck. If you come across a hater, get rid of them and don’t let them be part of your life or journey. No good will come of it – trust me.Find two other people in your network who can remind you that you are great. Contact me, tell me what you’re trying to do with your startup and I will be the first to remind you.
They say that to fail to prepare, is to prepare to fail. For me, this is so true. I don’t agree with going into things and winging it. I can’t do that and I will always crash and burn. So prep yourself and think about what your elevator pitch is. It sounds basic, but set aside a bit of time at the start of the day to do a spot of preparation for your day ahead. It will give you the confidence to go into a meeting, a pitch or a situation with strength and without feeling exposed.
Do something different; for me it was a comedy course. For you, it might be running 5km, doing a Tough Mudder, taking a magic course, doing a cooking class or learning Salsa. The key is to do something you have never done before and see it through. Trust me, you will look back with pride and think, damn right I did that.
You are awesome
For me, confidence is all about learning to love yourself. Yes, there is a slim line between confidence and arrogance, but you need to remember every day that you’re great. If you want to do the Alan Partridge move and roar into the mirror, go for it! I have seen some of the world’s most famous directors and sports stars go through techniques to build their confidence before a big speech or an event. Never be embarrassed: do what you need to do to remind yourself that you are going to smash whatever it is you are about to do.
If you want a network of people who will be there for you when you have a rough day and your confidence takes a hit, check out the IoD 99. Last week a 99er in the community came across a hater who hit their confidence, and within 12 hours over 30 members had reached out to support them. Never forget, we are stronger together.