When first starting out, virtually every entrepreneur I know has suffered from an insecurity complex of sorts. Yes, you’re running a business, but it doesn’t feel like a real business because you find yourself staring at your CEO, board of directors and staff while you’re brushing your teeth in the morning and walk past your “world headquarters” as you make your way back to your bedroom to get dressed.
When you’re a business of one (or two or three), it’s hard to avoid that stomach churning anxiety.
Something that is really simple, quick and easy that I have found can actually make a quite big impact is gratitude.
I heard one of the best examples of why staying aware of the things we usually take for granted is so important. Has anyone hear ever heard of the concept of head winds and tail winds?
The idea should be familiar to anyone who cycles or runs for exercise. Sometimes you’re running or cycling into the wind, and it’s not pleasant. You’re aware of it the whole time. It’s retarding your progress and you can’t wait until the course changes so that you get the wind at your back. And when that happens you’re grateful for about a minute. And very quickly, you no longer notice the wind at your back that’s helping push you along. And what’s true when it comes to running or cycling is true of life generally.
So what can happen when you make the effort to show gratitude?
I try and say out loud what I am grateful for each day, usually when I am about to get home after work. I’ll say things like, “I am grateful for Furious, my dog, and the opportunity he gives me to spend time outside and clear my head.” Or “I am grateful for the network I have build around me and now can access for help and support.”
And you do that for a few days in a row, and you just see that people are happier or more satisfied with their lives. You start to really appreciate your tail winds and realise that the head winds are only temporary.
Although those who lack this confidence are often made to feel guilty and ashamed, often those with an abundance of it have unrealistic expectations about what their confidence will help them accomplish and will actually become hindered by their confidence rather than helped by it.
There are four distinct advantages of being insecure:
- You’re naturally more realistic. Entrepreneurs, because of their nature as risk-takers, tend to suffer from over-confidence, which can blind them to potential problems. This is the reason why 90 percent of entrepreneurial business ventures fail. Those with lower confidence have a higher ability to perceive threats and are more likely to be successful as an entrepreneur because they aren’t blindly jumping in.
- You work harder. While over-confident individuals do little to improve their skills or performance, those with lower confidence take preparation, training and work more seriously than their over-confident peers. Because they perceive a gap between where they want to be and where they are, they close that gap not by trying to display more confidence, but by working harder. It’s important to remember the power of positive thinking during this evolution though. Adding something simple and easy like the word “yet” to statements like, “I’m not good enough” to make it into “I’m not good enough YET” leaves room for growth and improvement.
- You’re more liked. Although it’s true confident people are often called “charming” or “charismatic,” being over-confident can cause others to label you as arrogant, especially when that confidence is deemed to be unwarranted
- You’re more likely to accept criticism. While overconfident individuals are immune to negative feedback, those who are less confident are more likely to take criticism as constructive and work hard to improve upon their weaknesses.
All of this isn’t to say that we should all be insecure all the time. Those who lack any confidence at all prevent themselves from making their goals. We still need some confidence in order to be successful, but it’s all about balance.