Back in the day, I had the pleasure of teaching college classes for two years as a graduate assistant. My first semester, all three classes were scheduled back to back, with just fifteen minutes in between each class to catch my breath.
The first couple of weeks, I was so nervous that I would hide in the bathroom and hyperventilate (and maybe even cry a little) in between classes. I would barely have enough time to get myself back together before it was time to walk to my next class.
The class? Communication studies. And the first subject? Public speaking. I vividly remember wiping tears from my eyes and then walking into the classroom to talk about public speaking anxiety. Obviously, I felt a little bit like a phony.
I really did know a lot about the art of public speaking. I also knew a lot about teaching and the subject of communication studies in general. But what I didn’t have was experience. I had experience teaching and speaking in public, but I didn’t have experience teaching the subject of public speaking in a college classroom. Do you want to know my number one tip to conquer the fear of public speaking? Practice.
By the end of the semester I was 150% more confident teaching my students and running a classroom. By the time I finished my two years as a grad assistant I didn’t even blink an eye before walking into a classroom and knew my subject so well it only took me fifteen minutes to prepare for the week. It remains one of my sweetest memories and I still remember students who gave me hugs and thanked me for helping them get over their public speaking anxiety.
Why am I telling you this? Because I think somewhere along the line a lot of us have gotten the idea that we need to be confident before we can put ourselves out there and begin providing value for other people.
I have seen women with amazing ideas and talents hold themselves back indefinitely because they just didn’t think they were ready to take action. I can relate. I have wanted to launch my own design business since I was a little girl, but I held myself back for years after graduation because I was just too scared. I didn’t think that I had what it takes.
But confidence is not a requirement for taking action. Confidence is EARNED.
We have to believe that if we put ourselves out there and begin to move forward, that the confidence will come. I’ve had plenty of jobs, and I think I’ve been pretty good at most of them. But I never started out that way. I was at least a little terrified on the first day of every job I’ve ever had. Why did I think that starting my own business would feel any different?
You can (and should) learn everything you can before you begin something new. You should do your research and craft a plan. Do the prep work. But I don’t think you should wait until you feel you like you’re ready. Take action first, and the confidence will come over time as you prove to yourself and others that you know what you’re doing.
“If you don’t put out an imperfect version of yourself, you don’t create a story of how you got better that someone else can benefit from.” – Sean McCabe
No matter where we are in business, there will always be a new leap of faith to take. There will always be things we don’t know. But amazing things happen when we step out, say yes, and figure out things on the way. You can do it.