Being confident in who you are, your talent and what you have to offer prospective clients is extremely important in order to be successful. I'm sure that this statement isn't a real eye opener for you. LOL It is, actually, kinda obvious, right? Yet, working in a creative industry for almost 20 years, I still see individuals struggle with being confident in themselves and their skills. Let's be honest though, this is a common obstacle for people who work in the arts…whether it be visual or performing. It is just nature that we are hardest on ourselves or compare ourselves and skills to those of others. Not always the case…but often the case.
I've been thinking a lot about this subject lately, especially with the Craft and Hobby Association (CHA) summer trade show coming up next week. I was just looking over my itinerary for the show and realized how far I have come just in the last three years….even though I have been a designer section member of the association for eight. I have a very hectic show with very little down time….and I am too excited to even find an adjective that would adequately describe how I feel about it! For this show I am teaching a workshop for ImpressArt Metal Stamps and doing Make It, Take Its in their booth. I will be helping out in the Creativity Lounge in the iLovetoCreate booth. I'm hosting 4 segments of The Next Iron Crafter, which takes place on the show floor. I'm presenting my first solo seminar on social media to my peers. Plus, I have meetings…for which I was sought out (which is really cool). Then there are the designer centered activities like our section meeting, a designer council (to which I was appointed this past winter) meeting and the Designer Showcase and Spotlight Events. I am not bragging! Actually, it is quite embarrassing. Let me share with you why…
As I mentioned, this is my 8th year with CHA. Yet, the most important growth for my professionally came in the last 3 years. Now you might think that this isn't so uncommon. After all, it takes time to build and grow a business. What I want you all to understand…and what is embarrassing to admit…is that I WASTED FIVE YEARS wandering around with no focus or real goals. I traveled to CHA twice a year and did…well…nothing.
When I say nothing, I mean nada! I didn't participate in Designer activities…nor did I know my colleagues. I went to events where I did not network. I didn't do my research and introduce myself to manufacturers. I basically spent a lot of money coming to the show to take some seminars and wander up and down the aisles of the show looking for….well, I don't know what I was looking for actually.
What exactly caused me to get in my own way? Yep, a lack of confidence for sure. Many things contributed to me not being confident in myself….the biggest of which was ME:
- I didn't trust myself.
- I allowed family and friends to undermine me with their own fears.
- I allowed other's thoughts that what I did wasn't a real "job" or "work" impede my efforts.
- I compared myself to my industry peers…which caused me to question my abilities and skills.
- I believed the big lie I was telling myself…I wasn't good enough.
That last one really stifled me. That is a game changer…if I was going to continue on that self defeating path I could expect to fail for certain. Even worse, all of these thoughts caused me to:
- believe I had nothing to offer anyone in my industry….what could I possible teach anyone or help with?
- be fearful of rejection
- be disorganized in my business
- not participate in designer related activities
- not take risks
Now, I am not going to tell you that I just woke up one morning and felt better about myself. In all honesty, there are still times when those old thoughts creep back in and I have to step back, take a minute, look around and tell myself…"look at what you have accomplished…good for you!" What I can share about my "transformation" is this: first I got angry with myself…then I gave myself one year to shape up or move on.
For me, the first step was to get involved within the designer section. I participated on our discussion list and joined a couple of the teams, which really helped because I felt I was contributing. It made me feel good to do that, but more importantly, I was forming relationships with my colleagues. Many of these women I admired. What I found out was not only were they just like me, but also that they were so willing to help and offer advice. Their generosity was inspiring. Volunteering helped build up my confidence. An added benefit was the recognition I was starting to receive from individuals outside of the designer section. Staff and board members of CHA…and manufacturers.
Building confidence takes time. I feel I am in a really good place professionally. I'm not saying every day is all roses and rainbows…but that there are more of those days than the thorns and puddles kind. 😉