" Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right. "
Self-Confidence is a tricky beast. Too much, and you might be labeled an arrogant SOB. Not enough is just as bad, because if you don’t believe in yourself, why will your clients?
Online and in person, I love chatting with freelancers. One thing I’ve noticed in conversation is there’s a distinct difference between the freelancers who are working towards success and the ones who never seem to catch a break. The people who tend to be successful are the ones with confidence; in themselves, in their skills, and in their approach. They’re the lucky ones who seem to always have a project to work on, and in my experience, they tend to be very positive about the freelance experience. The unlucky freelancers are the ones who aren’t confident in themsleves, and offer excuses as to why they can’t find new projects. “It’s the economy”. “I can’t compete with overseas workers who work for a fraction of my rate” (note: if you’re competing on price, you’ve already lost). “No one will give me a chance.”
Even the successful freelancers sometimes suffer from a lack of confidence. “That job’s too big for us to pitch – we’ll never win it.” or “We think it’s good, but we’re not sure the client is going to like it.”
"You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take"
How Do You Become Self-Confident?
Practice. Practice. Practice. and fake it ‘til ya make it.
Fake it ‘til ya make it sounds deceptive, but it’s really not . You’re faking confidence, not ability. Believe that you are the best possible solution for your clients’ current needs, availability, and budget, because that’s what they expect from you. Believe in yourself and your clients will, too.
Confidence isn’t something you can learn from a book or order online with free next-day shipping. It’s a skill you must work on constantly. While success is the best way to build your confidence, it’s difficult to succeed if you don’t have a project to work on. With a little effort and patience, you can find another way to nurture your confidence. Productivityist Mike Vardy uses golf as a metaphor in his book, The Front Nine, and that concept will work here, too. *No previous golf experience required.*
Unless you’re Tiger Woods and started golfing at three years old, chances are you can use a bit of help. It’s been said you need to golf three times a week to improve your game (no, I don’t know who said it, and yes it was likely some guy justifying to his wife why he was going golfing, again. Bear with me). You can practice on the golf course, but this can be an expensive and embarrassing way to do it, which is why there are practice ranges.
The first time I went to the driving range, I got myself the largest bucket of balls I could get and pulled out the biggest club in my bag. I was going to hit that ball as hard as I could and watch it sail over the back fence. I’d seen how they do it on TV, and watched how the other guys were doing it on the range. I pictured it in my mind, set myself up for my swing, and whacked it like a pro. I missed the ball completely. After a few more whiffs (that’s golf-speak for missing the ball completely – which happens more often than you’d think) I finally managed to make contact. The ball went about 60 yards. Right. Straight right, nearly hitting the other folks in the driving range. Of the 120 balls in that bucket, I think I hit two of them nicely.
The thing is, I remember those two good shots much better than the 118 terrible (and in many cases – EXTREMELY terrible) shots.
The next time I went to the range, I started with an easier club and found I was hitting the ball more consistently. Sure, most of the shots were still bad, but I had some good shots and even the occasional great shot. Over time and many buckets of balls, I learned how my stance, swing, ball position, tempo, and a ton of other factors affected how I hit the ball, and I slowly worked on each part by watching other golfers, taking lessons from professionals, and practice. Lots and lots of practice. Eventually I was happy with the way I was hitting the ball, and started really enjoying the game. I’m still a terrible golfer, but I’m not as terrible as when I started, and I’ll continue to get better. Probably.
Confidence is just like that big bucket of balls. You have an endless supply of opportunities ahead of you, but if you don’t try, you can’t win. You might not be awesome from the start, but with practice you’ll get a lot closer, and throughout your career you’ll continue to refine and improve.
How to Practice Self-Confidence
The best way to do it is just do it. Recognize your skills and abilities, and accept compliments when they’re offered. Don’t beat yourself up for things beyond your control. Learn from your mistakes so you don’t repeat them, but realize they are proof you are stretching yourself and trying new things. This is good for you and good for your business. Go to meetups and business networking events. Practice engaging with other professionals, and watch how the good ones do it. Adapt and incorporate their effective techniques to match your style, and look for opportunities to keep working on it. Deliver your best to your clients, confidently. That’s why they’re paying you the big bucks.
" If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse"
Today’s post was an expanded excerpt from my ebook The Fortunate Freelance: Make Your Own Luck, available on Amazon.
For more tips on building your self-confidence, check out: