At a recent Telling Our Life Stories workshop I hosted, a man attended who has been working on his family history longer than I’ve been alive.
I was daunted at first, wondering what I as a (ahem) young writer could possibly teach him that he didn’t already know.
That old wavering, persistent voice of insecurity threatened to tear me down. Who did I think I was, offering strangers tips and advice for how to effectively tell their own life stories? Would this man think my presentation was a joke? Would anyone else, for that matter?
I pushed my fear and doubt aside and did my best to be confident in what I was presenting.
And you know what? People listened. They asked questions. This man, who was so deep into his own family history, took notes as I talked. He even approached me afterward and asked if we could spend some one-on-one time together so he could get my input on some specific challenges he was facing regarding his project.
Isn’t it funny how we can so easily doubt ourselves? How easily that familiar fear of failure creeps up on us.
Online entrepreneur Pat Flynn addresses his own battle with confidence this way:
“… When I was told by a successful colleague to write an eBook for my site, I thought of every excuse not do it:
- ‘I don’t know how to make an eBook.’
- ‘I don’t think it’s going to sell very well.’
- ‘People will be upset because most of the material can be found for free on the blog already.’
- ‘I’m not a good writer.’
- ‘There are probably other books that are way better out there already.’
This lack of self confidence delayed any sort of action on my eBook, and it was only after several other people begged me to write it, including a couple of my own readers who heard I had thought about it and said they were already waiting to pay for it when it was finished, did I finally take action and do it.”
As a result, Flynn writes, he finished the book in a couple of months, and it sold very well. After $250,000 in sales, not one person had complained about the same content appearing on the Website. His writing improved as a result of producing the book, and perhaps there were others books out there that were better than his, but it didn’t matter.
What mattered? He shoved excuses and insecurities aside, put his nose to the grindstone and went to work on something he ultimately believed in. Sure that voice of doubt probably lingered every step of the way, but he tamped it down.
Fear of failure will always exist. Sneaky nudges of insecurity will always threaten to seep into your work, your attitude. But I think more often than not, the hardest person to convince that we and our work matter is not the complete stranger in the audience or the friend sitting across the table.
The hardest person to convince that we and our work matter is ourselves.
Let’s stop being our own worst critics and give ourselves some credit for the good that we do. A little extra dose of believing in yourself can go a long way.
How do you respond to moments of insecurity?