The Confidence Game

I work with an amazing group of women. F3/Intensive. We dive in every week (every day, really) and roll up our sleeves on how to do things better. How to push our businesses forward, how to jump the hurdles. 
 
This week the subject of confidence has come up. Fear. Reticence. Hesitation. Second guessing. 
 
What if I’m not good enough?
What if they say “no”?
What if I fail?
 
Having been an artist my entire life, at everything from acting to dancing to jewelry, confidence (or a lack of it) is nothing new to me. The reluctance to let anyone see your work – what if they don’t like it, or get it, or understand it? What if your voice cracks, what if you look bad…
 
I had a Musical Theater professor in college who set one of my worst fears on fire on the first day of class. The assignment: a solo song of our choosing, a cappella, during the next class. 
 
Now I was a pretty good dancer. And vocally I didn’t suck – I could do okay, but I was definitely a chorus voice – not a lead. This terrified me down to my toenails. I almost dropped the class over it. 
 
So I had a decision to make. And I believe that decision has colored a lot of my decisions since then.
 
What did I want MORE? 
 
I decided I didn’t want to be scared. I didn’t want to fail. I didn’t want to be bested by my own fears. That if I couldn’t climb over my own self I didn’t have much chance of climbing over the endless stream of obstacles that were going to be thrown in my way.
 
I sang the song. I wasn’t great, but I wasn’t awful. No one laughed or ran out of the room. No one’s ears bled. From a certain point of view it was a rousing success. I mean really – I didn’t pass out or throw up. Win.
 
If I had given in to that fear… and dropped the class. The fear would have been reinforced. How would I have moved forward then?
 
So when the thought of cold calling a store, picking up the phone to speak to a buyer, or putting your work out there for all to see makes you dizzy, consider the alternative.
 
What if you don’t? What happens then? Nothing. Nothing happens.
 
It all comes back down to “How bad do you want it?”
 
Do you want to sell your work bad enough to get past your fear? Is your discomfort greater than your desire to succeed? Do you really believe – truly, sincerely in your heart – that you’re going to be laughed at? Or is that remnants of middle school lunches having at your psyche? (Hint: I’ve seen all kinds of work, from my buyer days and coaching… I’ve never laughed)
 
You may be told “no”. You’ll probably be told “no”. But consider this: How often do you say “no”?
 
To your kids, your husband, your dog, your friends… small things, big things whatever. How often do you disagree? Does that mean you don’t love them? That you think they’re ridiculous? Stupid, untalented and stinky? Do you buy everything you see? Or even everything that you like?
 
No, of course not. No just means, “no”.
 
And just like with our kids, sometimes “no” means “not right now” or “not like that”, or “I can’t afford it”.
 
No’s have nuance. But that’s another story.
 
There are no magic bullets for fixing a lack of confidence when it comes to your artwork. No checklists, courses or pills.   
 
Decide what you want. What is important to you. If it’s important enough, GO AND GET IT.
 
 
“Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgement that something is more important than fear; The brave may not live forever, but the cautious do not live at all.”
~Meg Cabot

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