Confidence and the self-employed (do I need NLP or something?)

(27 Posts)
windsweptcoast Mon 11-Feb-13 12:30:07

I have been working for myself for 2 years, and have managed well; constant supply of work, some well paid, some business development. The thing is, I quite often suffer with a huge lack of confidence in myself, and my abilities. I have a little script in my head that goes 'they will find out you're no good, and where will that get you?' or 'you'll just make it worse, you know'. Unreasonably, I think, because I have great feedback from clients, and on good days I know I'm good at what I do. But I don't really believe that I'm good at it, iyswim. This is becoming a problem; my clients need me to believe that I'm good at what I do and it's preventing a reasonable business becoming a really great one. I would also like to tackle this because it's not making me happy, while I know being effective in my work will. Can anyone share any tips for self-belief? Wondering if NLP would help? TIA.

I sing a very embarrassing song I made up called "the amazing song" which is about how amazing I am, before I have to do something I'm nervous about (like phoning potential customers or performing on stage).
After the amazing song I hit my embarrassment threshold and appear confident, as my nerves have settled. Try it!

MrsMargoLeadbetter Mon 11-Feb-13 15:00:21

Sorry to hear of your lack of confidence windswept, but congrats on growing your business to date. No small achievement in a recession.

Has something changed recently or is it a growing issue that you have now decided you want to address?

NLP or a business coach may well be the answer...

However I would say that both on this board and in RL I know that lots of freelancers/SME owners (including me!) who feel as you do. So not sure it if it is you, or part of the game of doing your own thing.

I hate to say (and may well get flamed!) but I also wonder if this can typically be a more female issue than male.

As how I try to address it:

- Got myself a buddy, a wonderful MNetter from this board, we do something similar but aimed at different markets, we update each other every couple of weeks. It is great to have a cheerleader that understands my work. I saw this posted on Twitter today, a freelancer publication is offering to match people if that is of interest - www.emmacossey.com/2013/02/the-freelance-weekly-challenge-want-to-connect-with-other-freelancers.html

- Collect testimonials at the end of projects that go well. This can be difficult as my clients tend to be busy - which is why they hire me - but I draft a copy for them to sign off. The testimonials then help my marketing but it also helps me to remember I am good, especially for those times I don't feel it!

- Develop my network. I was always interested in networking prior to freelancing, but since I have tried to be even more active. This can be off and online, I try to be helpful to others in the hope they'll one day they'll return the favour!

And whilst I don't whine at anyone who will listen (!), I have a few contacts who I would say are now "professional friends" who I can be honest with every now and then.

- Be kind to yourself if things do go wrong. We all make mistakes/don't always do something to our best. If we were employed I think we'd think "Oh well, x went wrong, I'll try to not do it again/learn from it". But when you are being paid directly for what you do it just feels so much more responsibility etc. But at the end of the day, you are human and if you make mistakes you can only say sorry, rectify it and move on.

Anyway, not sure if any of that helps!

MrsMargoLeadbetter Mon 11-Feb-13 15:51:06

Should just say that networking for me is about confidence boosting too. I write a blog, connections share and sometimes compliment me on it etc.

It just makes me feel a bit more appreciated.

windsweptcoast Tue 12-Feb-13 10:57:30

Thank you both for your replies; I like the idea of a song. I shall give some thought to my amazing qualities and put them to music. The strategies you use, Margo, look really helpful, too, so I shall work on that.

You may be right about the gender thing; I know so many women who just feel they aren't good enough. I was going to read Sheryl Sandberg's book; from what I understand, she is looking at how women sometimes prevent themselves from having the career they want because they self-limit. Interesting thought.

Also, having been thinking about it, maybe it's also about accepting that the lack of confidence is sometimes there and finding strategies to deal with it, rather than getting worked up about wanting to get rid of it. Certainly, I didn't always feel this way. Working full-time before children, it was different. Two children, part-time work and a couple of really rubbish projects seem to have dented my armour a bit.

I shall keep an eye on this board; it's just good to know there are other people out there tackling the same things. Thank you again.

MrsMargoLeadbetter Tue 12-Feb-13 12:38:55

I am sure lots of men will be thinking "I cannot believe they didn't like my work, fools". Whilst we are thinking "I wish I'd done it better, I know they aren't happy" etc.

I think confidence and belief (as a freelance/SME owner) will also develop over time. I am sure you find that somethings now are easier than when you begun? Even small things.

Try to take the positives from the bad projects and then "let go" - much easier to say than do!

I have found I have learnt a useful (but sometimes painful!) lesson from things/projects that have gone wrong. Sometimes you just cannot put it right. And yes, it isn't nice to think that somebody out there has a bad professional opinion of you, but you will never please everyone and there are plenty more potential clients where you have the opportunity to work well with them etc.

Why not produce a one page "Annual Review" for this past year, you can then look at that this time next year. I am sure you'll find things have actually gone well etc.

My emotions over being a freelancer swing like a pendulum. Lucky my DH doesn't mind listening!

If you ever need a specific ear do PM me.

Best of luck.

buildingmycorestrength Wed 13-Feb-13 13:53:59

I really struggle with this. I also have a freelance friend I can talk to, who is actually a professional coach/personal development type.

She makes sure she puts any glowing testimonials/cards/thank yours over her desk so she can see them daily. I do this too now, and have a 'publications box' so I can feel satisfaction at concrete achievements.

She prioritises good relationships with clients and checks in with them regularly.

I have lately started seeking feedback from clients using survey monkey. Quantifying their feedback is good for me, but I also seek comments.

I have also joined a local network so I get to see humans, as my work is quite isolating and that does not help in terms of keeping perspective and staying positive. I've also started seeking out work that involves more people contact, like running events instead of just research.

I try to arrange meetings and phone calls at regular intervals rather than all in one day.

I have had lots of CBT in the past and I apply all this techniques to my work.

My other half is not particularly good at talking things through, so I make sure to catch up with my friend as needed. About once a week.

buildingmycorestrength Wed 13-Feb-13 13:54:22

I also love the idea of a song! grin.

buildingmycorestrength Wed 13-Feb-13 13:56:46

Ooh, and I wrote a sort of 'five year plan' (not ambitious, just sort of realistic...like 'get one new client this year', 'run one workshop this year') and I track things like how much I've earned over the year.

I've been self employed for ten years or so and then only just started doing these things as I've started to take my career more seriously.

I did a confidence course which used NLP techniques and it really helped me.

I love my song, it really boosts my confidence. It seems it's just me that is egotistical enough to make up a song about my innumerable talentsblush, I hope it catches on though, it really works for me. People have told me their first impression of me is that I'm confident and friendly.
I think that as I'm physically small (5ft), I make up for it by putting on a confident persona. Pretend you are confident, and while you're fooling others, you may well fool yourself (it's in "The King and I" so it must be truewink).

WilsonFrickett Wed 13-Feb-13 19:53:02

Never chase business that isn't financially worthwhile (or has some other incentive or plus point going for it) because that will send you into a downward spiral.

Actively seek feedback.

And remember, if they didn't like you they wouldn't hire you!

I can also recommend CBT for confidence issues. Worked wonders for DP grin - I have a rhino hide of confidence grin

windsweptcoast Wed 13-Feb-13 21:14:09

Thanks everyone, for more advice. Definitely going to follow up some of these ideas (like contacting people; I tend to do it all on one day, but I can see that actually, it's less isolating if you spread them out - talking to people really keeps my motivation up). And Margot, I will take you up on that offer and PM you next time something comes up, if that's ok. I will try CBT for confidence too; I'm just starting new project and realised today that it's also partly a matter of fake it till you make it. Meantime, I shall make like a rhino.

Having an understanding DH helps; I've been only been at this for two years and he's heard me swing madly between 'this is the best ever, it fits perfectly with the children' and 'oh god, it's so HARD, I'm just going to get a perm contract somewhere' many, many times.

venusandmars Fri 15-Feb-13 16:16:14

Aha - yes, that old chestnut...

It's one of what I call the 'primal lies' - those big things that stick in out heads, and stop us from doing what we truly could and should: lies like 'I'm wrong' 'I'm bad' 'I'll be found out' 'I'll be judged' 'I don't deserve this [good thing]' 'I'm not good enough'....

And I call them lies because they are NOT the the truth. If someone has given you the job / responsibility / pay / time / honour / respect .... it is because for them, it truly is right and deserved. We all have those feelings, and those fears, but it does not mean that they are true. And we all deal with them in different ways - some men deal with them by being big and brash and bullying, and some of us deal with them by being apologetic and timid.

At the base of it all is some kind of fear, but remember this (Marianne Williamson):

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of the Universe. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory that is within us. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

buildingmycorestrength Mon 18-Feb-13 22:19:45

I just had a good call with a client this morning. Feeling hopeful about this contract. Wrote myself a song but didn't actually sing it. smile

Have another call tomorrow.

I like this thread and am really glad to hear someone else who constantly thinks maybe a job would be easier but then going back to thinking freelancing is great...etc etc.

Shall we who need a bit of confidence building keep in touch occasionally?

buildingmycorestrength Thu 28-Feb-13 16:44:22

I just gave a talk at a local college as a way of building my confidence for future speaking events. Feedback good so far. It was a good experiment.

FreelanceMama Tue 12-Mar-13 10:37:28

I've kept a folder in my inbox for years called Praise and Achievements and every single email I get with a Thank You or some kind of nice comment, goes in there, no matter how minor. Then I have a lovely time now and then reading how wonderful I am smile

It's the biggest challenge I face as a working from home freelancer. Especially with the tiredness that comes from having a baby.

One strategy is to only work for lovely people - if I don't feel any affection for my clients (and feel that they don't care about me) then I can't get motivated to do the work.

Honu Tue 12-Mar-13 14:30:30

FreelanceMama Thanks! <slaps head>. Why have I received cards from thankful tutees over the years and then tidied them into the wpb? A physical file to remind me that I can teach, and well, would be magic for the occasions when I doubt myself.

FreelanceMama Wed 13-Mar-13 07:41:15

Honu that sounds lovely - a physical reminder. Also worth a go is writing recommendations for people you've taught or worked with if they are on LinkedIn. Even if you don't ask them to, they often reciprocate, which is very nice.

Tournesol Wed 13-Mar-13 14:28:11

This is a lovely thread! I am having a fallow time as a freelancer at the moment (not helped by having three kids under six and only two mornings a week to try and find/do any work) and lack of confidence is such a waste of time.

Trying to be constantly pro active and get my CV on as many desks as possible but sometimes I just wish I had a proper job!

Going to try and thnk of a song to write about myself and will try and resist being self-depreciating!

FreelanceMama Fri 15-Mar-13 09:23:48

I had a lovely coffee and catch up with two other female freelancers yesterday (one with and one without a family) and felt inspired again afterwards. It reminded me how important it is to have face to face time with other women who are self-employed - we shared tips on accounting, setting fees for new clients, ideas for what to do next, and just friendly chat. Lovely.

DolomitesDonkey Fri 15-Mar-13 10:12:28

Sounds brilliant! :-)

I'm glad the song thing is taking off, at least now it's not just me singing like a narcissistic loongrin.
Work is really picking up for me lately, I have 2 gigs next week and a few more in the pipeline.
I have taught myself to listen to people, not just hear them, so I can find a solution that benefits them and me, and tailor my service to meet individual needs and budgets.
I am not particularly comfortable approaching new clients, but I act as if I do it all the time, it usually fools them, and occasionally fools even me!

MrsTwgtwf Tue 26-Mar-13 23:07:45

Can you put that Amazing Song on YouTube, InMySpareTime? I want my ds to learn it. grin Probably many other teens would also benefit. Plus you might become a YouTube millionnaire.

I have uploaded it here (I had to set up a YouTube channel for that, another thing I'm now good at!)
I actually hope it does go viral, it's really helped me anyway.

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