A few years ago, Interview Magazine did an unconventional photo shoot with actress Kristen Stewart. The star of the Twilight Saga rocked a slightly gothic, edgy look in several socially defiant poses. My favorite one was where she showed off her designer Gara Danielle ring by flipping up her middle finger. While the rest of my peers in the marketing community were in an uproar, I was thinking to myself “HECK YEAH!!” There was something about the image that said “I ain’t scared … eff you!”. The image struck me as FEARLESS!
Fear is a very real distraction for most of us, but especially women in business. In many cases fear can paralyze us and keep us from grabbing on to our dreams and riding them into oblivion.
So here’s my confession #127: I’m not afraid of many things, but failure is one of them, especially PUBLIC failure.
I suppose my fear is why I kept silent for years about my struggles in my business. I wasn’t worried so much about what other people thought of me. Nope I was utterly terrified about what I thought of myself! Failure would mean looking in the mirror and clearly seeing those flaws that I had fought so hard to hide under the armor of success that I had so carefully crafted. Failure would mean that I could no longer hide behind my shields of certifications and banners of Fortune 500 clients. Failure would mean that people would look past all the stuff I was hiding behind and stare directly at ME! The problem was, I wasn’t ready to be seen.
“Ladies and gentlemen, what we have here is a lack of confidence” (insert radio announcer’s voice here). True story! I was hiding behind all that “stuff” because I didn’t have any REAL confidence in my skills or my abilities. Sure I had the ego-driven “have you seen my big deal client list” kind of confidence. But not the “I don’t have anything to prove” kind of confidence, and THAT my friends is what I call ORGANIC confidence. Nope… I just didn’t have that.
So after a series of Aha Moments and having a few “come to Jesus” meetings with myself, I realized that I had to work on my confidence in order chase down my dreams of success. That’s when I decided … I looked my fear dead in the eye, then gave it the middle finger. Yep, I flipped fear the old bird. I mean, think about it, fear is such a big bully! I had to treat my fears like hostile invaders. I had to neutralize those threats with military precision. And that was the FIRST step in reclaiming my confidence.
I made the decision to only operate in spaces where I’m embraced (not just accepted). That meant that I fired many of the clients that made me feel “forced to perform” inside the armor of perfection. I began to intentionally share my mistakes and misfortunes with people around me. I accepted that NOT being perfect wasn’t bad… it was human. And I stopped apologizing for not being like other people. I learned to like myself, then eventually LOVE myself… even bigger, I EXPECTED other people to love me too. Before long, confidence was just oooozing out of my pores. I mean real… “I ain’t got sh*t to prove” bonafide confidence.
Finding my confidence allowed me to attract an entirely NEW group of clients who were willing to pay more for my expertise and they actually liked me to boot. And they liked the REAL me, not the manufactured me. You see, finding my own confidence helped others place their confidence in me and my skills. And THAT is why I have no regrets about flipping fear the middle finger (Kristen Stewart style)!
PHOTO CREDIT: KRISTEN STEWART IMAGE BY CRAIG MCDEAN FOR INTERVIEW MAGAZINE