Lacking confidence was a problem I hid for so long, it embarrassed me, it held me back and it ruled my career for so long.
As you rise through the ranks you are looked upon and expected to lead from the front - to present, to protect, to persuade and to be comfortable to challenge in a room full of 2 to 200.
Why did I struggle so much with this?
- I had experience
- I had answers
- I had words to say
Was it out of my Comfort zone? Yes.
A comfort zone is the wrapper that’s found on a burger to keep it warm, it’s that feeling you get when you stay in bed an extra hour, it’s the moment you disagree with something in the room, whilst stood at the back leaning on the wall but say nothing - nodding your head.
I had to get out of it, I still have to get out of it, it’s not easy but becoming the best version of myself is not meant to be easy. In short - you can’t get things changed and influenced from the back of the room.
Getting out of this zone meant breaking rules, my own rules, changing the flow of meetings and more importantly – standing up for my own beliefs and knowledge, never wanting to leave a room wishing I had said something.
It’s a constant work-in-progress, pushing myself and reminding myself that to go further I must do it.
I recently attended a “Speak like a leader” course, this is far out of my comfort zone, standing at the front of the room and talking about topics I either knew in advance or was dropped last minute.
It made me anxious, waiting to talk - my heart beating so loud I couldn’t hear anyone else in the room. My talk going through my mind over and over again - worried I’ll mess it or or worse.. be boring.
It wasn’t always like this - I presented to stakeholders all the time, I had a business, I needed to do the peacock dance so often I couldn’t even guess the amount of times I’ve had to stand up and own the room.
Recalling the exact moment I knew I had lost all my confidence - I was running a workshop, it was to last 2 hours. I had it all planned out, I had bullet points, I had a playlist (of course!) - it was set up perfectly.
I also had some stakeholders in, I wanted to and had to land it.
I didn’t. I really didn’t.
They all walked in, I didn’t stand up, I fluffed my words, I didn’t command the room and it felt unplanned and out of control.
I feel so awkward just writing this, knowing how I felt during and after. It’s a constant memory that I try to tuck away, but it’s there - always there ready to sing and dance in my head whenever I’m in a similar situation.
From then on, it went down and down and down hill.
That was 4 years ago.
Then it happened, I woke up one day, found an offer of a new job, handed my notice in at work and decided I never want to be stuck in the same rut again.
I had people telling me I had all the potential in the world, but wasn’t using it, I didn’t deliver.
All I ever wanted to do was inspire not only work colleagues but my family - my daughter specifically is my inspiration to change, therefore I needed to change, I need to lead by example.
Back to the “speak like a leader” course, the first day was terrible, but something happened, I remembered that I MUST do this - not because anyone told me to do it, I MUST do this to push myself further because if I didn’t, that feeling of failure would creep in again.
I got on the train home and had a talk, a stern talk to myself.
I remembered the joy of presenting to clients trying to land that contract, leading a workshop, or the best feeling - getting a standing ovation at my wedding when I did a random(ish) talk and it landed (yes.. the groom did a talk..if you know me it won’t surprise you).
The second day arrived, I wanted to talk - I wanted to make everyone in the room listen to me, I had no idea what I was going to talk about, but I didn’t care.
Im unsure if you have ever suffered from this, but the feeling of frustration is one I am now using as a drive to power me forward, I want to get better, I want to perform at a level that amazes people and I want to lead, I never want someone to tell me I didn’t fulfil my potential ever again.
So my tip if you are in this position is to give yourself a chance, stand up and just do it, take yourself to one side and take time to evaluate what you actually want to do - have that talk and remember why or what your drive is.
I am making a change, so you can make that change.
I honestly would love to hear how you have changed and what you said to yourself to get to there (or if someone else gave you THAT talk you needed), or even if you are wanting to change but unsure how.