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7 Steps To Finding Your Inner Confidence

With life and leadership coach Caroline Jory

We all suffer from a dip in confidence at some point and in some areas of our lives. While many of us are busy with the challenges of running creative businesses, the confidence piece that is regularly overlooked presents a very real challenge. The creative ideas flow but confidence ebbs and flows. Add in the isolation that comes from running a small, start-up, creative business, and a crisis in confidence can be a very real block to growth and success.

Leadership and life coach, Caroline Jory, specialises in creative businesses - working with women starting up their own brands through to highly successful creatives looking for someone to champion, challenge, and support as they grow.

Here Caroline explores the notion of inner confidence in scaling creative businesses and offers 7 tools to consider to help grow your confidence and ultimately, your business...

If you feed the positive thoughts, more positive neurons will fire together. What we think is what becomes...

Am I going to let that stop me? I remember the moment I first asked myself this question as doubts crept in. I was about to swap my award-winning career in marketing to retrain as a leadership and life coach. Midlife, peri menopausal, not long divorced, it probably wasn’t the best time to make such a big change. And yet, it was. Because the courage it took to take a long hard look at my personal life was the same courage I found to follow my calling in my professional life. And I’ve never looked back.
Building a business from the ground up takes guts. And while financial runways, strategies, spotting niche opportunities, and timing all contribute to success, there are three ingredients I have seen that make the biggest difference to who makes it and who doesn’t:
The difference between good businesses and those that become great is they are led by someone with self-belief, confidence, and humility. (Jim Collins wrote a book about it.)
Today I work with female founders - some are highly successful creatives, and others are just starting out setting up their own small creative businesses. And no matter where they are on the trajectory, self-belief, and confidence is an issue that comes up again and again.

7 ways to foster inner confidence:

1. Life beyond our comfort zone
Every time we push ourselves a bit further, when we put our head above the parapet to grow our business, it’s very common that in those moments, the little voice inside our head appears and says - can I do this? All we see are barriers and challenges. That little voice is the ego. The ego usually refers to a person’s sense of self or perception of their identity. And when we try to move beyond what we have been, to become something more, our ego panics. It wants us to get back inside the lines, the safe zone, the familiar.
When we leave the comfort zone, we're no longer in a familiar and controllable situation. The brain hasn't created the pathways it needs to know how to react – and we may feel anxiety and fear. Yet learning to leave your comfort zone is essential.” Tony Robbins author and coach.
Let’s face it. The discomfort can feel uncomfortable.  But as Robbins says, it’s worth bearing with. “As you push your personal boundaries, you train your brain to adapt to new situations and create new neural pathways that make you a better problem-solver, decision-maker and leader. You truly become unstoppable.”
2. Creating space to think and see your thoughts
In conversation with a client recently she said the support from our coaching that is the most potent for her is the emotional, mindset work we do. The strategy and operational side of things is important, but no matter how good your strategy and planning - the thing that can bring you to your knees is the dip in confidence, the voice inside that says what are you doing, or this isn’t any good.
The trick here is not to collude with the voice. The aim is to notice it is happening, rather than get immediately sabotaged and react to it. In noticing, you are creating a space of choice between you and your thoughts - from there, you can choose a more considered response.
Psychologist Susan David talks about the power of mindfulness and noticing our response to situations: “Mindfulness guides us to become more emotionally agile by allowing us to observe the thinker having the thoughts. Simply paying attention brings the self out of the shadows. It creates the space between thought and action that we need to ensure we're acting with volition, rather than simply out of habit.” 

If you are working on relaunching, and reinventing what you do, there will be points along this creative journey that feel wildly uncomfortable. As we birth new creative elements in our lives, it requires emotional resilience.  

3. Breathwork and the brain
Understanding how our brain works is fundamental to navigating the path of entrepreneurship. It's very hard to think creatively, or at all, when your mind is racing, feeding you a rigid narrative of who you are. You move into fight and flight mode. What’s happening is the part of your brain responsible for nuance and perspective – the pre-frontal cortex - shuts down and the older limbic part of the brain is activated. This is the part of the brain that helped us survive when we were cave people – do or die, stay or run, no nuance, no creative thinking.
If you feel agitated, firstly you need to focus on getting back to feeling more regulated before you take further action or make decisions. The Navy Seals use Box Breathing as a technique when in high-stress situations. A few rounds of box breathing are hugely helpful. Steady breathing is only possible when we feel relaxed, so you essentially trick your brain into thinking you are relaxed through this type of breathwork. Realign the brain by sending messages of safety through box breathing. 
4. Positive psychology and negativity bias
Which leads me to the workings of the mind. Our mind will latch onto whatever we let it - if you feed the negative thoughts, more negative neurons will fire in your brain. If you feed the positive thoughts, more positive neurons will fire together. What we think is what becomes. If you are working on relaunching, and reinventing what you do, there will be points along this creative journey that feel wildly uncomfortable. As we birth new creative elements in our lives, it requires emotional resilience. 
The brain has an amazing ability to restructure neural pathways based on experience and mindset. By consciously cultivating these mindsets, we can forge new neural connections and strengthen pathways linked to self-understanding resilience, and emotional well-being. The result - greater personal growth.” Dr Tara Swart, neuroscientist
How to do this? If you find yourself on a downward spiral, focusing on the negative after a long day for example, can help to give yourself a sense check. The human brain tends to give more weight to the negative over the positive. This is known as the negativity bias – remember our brains are wired to look around for the threat, going back to those prehistoric times. So we are more likely to hone in on the bad. Try to stack more positive to negative in how you talk to yourself, with at least 3 positive thoughts to one negative. And create a reframe table – write down all your negative thoughts. Then consider what is the positive reframe of this situation… ask what can I control here to turn this situation around. 
5. Making decisions
Sometimes we’re faced with decisions we just don’t want to have to make. But there are going to be umpteen times we need to make decisions, big and small when running our own business. So many businesses miss opportunities because of prevaricating over which decision is the right one. Don’t look back with regret – there’s no way of knowing that the other choice would have been better further down the line. I couldn’t agree more with Dr Ellen Langers professor of psychology at Harvard University. “Make a decision and then make it the right one.
6. Motivation matters
It’s also important to remind yourself why you are making changes – our motivation is far more impactful and more likely to lead to success than simply changing habits and introducing new practices in the hope they will have some effect. Behavioural change expert BJ Fogg says “The more motivated you are to do a behaviour, the more likely you are to do the behaviour. When motivation is high, people not only take action when prompted, they can also do difficult things.”
When I work with people starting their own businesses, I ask them to write a personal statement at the beginning. It's a reminder to them of why they are doing this, what their dream is but also what is driving them forward, what’s their why… it helps when the darker days appear to remember why we’re doing this. This is your motivation. 
7. You cannot drink from an empty cup
The final advice is to give yourself time outside work. Remember your brain needs time to switch off. Your body needs time to rest. Your heart needs time to sing. Develop an appreciation of time, slowing down, and understanding the way creativity flows. I work with a lot of creative people. As one myself, I understand the pace. The lack of confidence can bring anyone to their knees when left unchecked. 
Name your feelings, speak your fears, choose your A team wisely, and remind yourself daily of what you feel grateful for. When we let go of steep expectations and see what we already have, it fills us back up and increases our mental and emotional resilience for the next step we need to take.

Caroline offers bespoke coaching and mentoring in person in London, the Cotswolds, and Brighton, and on zoom globally. Her CREATE group course is aimed at women who have new or fledgling creative businesses and want support to build a sustainable strategic business and avoid the isolation that can set in when working on your own. Further details on her website, the next cohort begins at the end of September/early October.
Join Caroline at her next life coaching workshop at Bamford in the Cotswolds on Wednesday 5 June. Details and booking are available here.

Visit Follow @carolinejorycoaching