Updated: Jun 15
Have you ever found yourself shying away from putting yourself forward for career opportunities that you aspire to, doubting your capabilities or even hesitating to call yourself a “real” artist or _______ (fill in the blank)?
You are not alone. “I need help to build (or regain) my confidence" is something I hear regularly from artists and creatives in various stages of their career. Trust me, even well established artists and creative professionals express to me they lack confidence in themselves suddenly or situationally. I’ve found my own confidence lagging at moments when I’m out of my comfort zone or taken a leap to evolve my career in a new direction. I know from my own personal experience and coaching other creatives how challenging it can be to promote yourself and your work or take action to move forward if you are lacking confidence.
I’ve gathered a few strategies that have worked for me and that I know help my clients to cultivate confidence.
Draw on Your Strengths and Expertise:
Here’s how you can start to think this through. First, make a list of what you know you are good at. This could include:
Skills you’ve developed
Things that come naturally to you
Capabilities other people rely on you for or have outright told you that you are good at.
Write these things down! Just seeing the list on paper is validating of your capabilities and gives a confidence boost.
Review your list and identify - “What are my top strengths and expertise”? (What you take most pride in about yourself both personally or professionally?)
Then consider - “How can I apply these things to help me get from A to B?“ (Brainstorm and bullet point how you can draw on these strengths in a specific situation related to your creative practice, business or career where you are currently lacking confidence)
Tip - Even if a top strength doesn’t seem relevant, get creative and think out of the box.
To help inspire you, I’ll share a few examples I created for myself when I was making the move to transition my career from working in arts programming and management roles to becoming a coach and building my own coaching practice. It was a big change that I was excited and nervous about and I had some moments where I needed to cultivate my confidence very intentionally.
Here are three examples of how I used this exercise to draw on three of my favorite strengths:
My groundedness. How could I apply and leverage this personal strength as a coach?
be a calm presence for my clients and hold solid ground for them
provide practical support and tools
be grounded in my professional integrity and practices
My cooking skills. How could I apply and leverage this skill (that I love but might not seem relevant to coaching!)?
appreciate and celebrate all types of creative practice (like cuisines)
Be curious about what works for different creatives (everyone has their own palate)
Embrace experimenting, cooking without a recipe in coaching and building my business
My ability to connect the dots. How could I apply this ability that comes naturally to me?
See what’s under the surface or not being said
Support client to connect to their values
Support client to see connections, build self-awareness and solutions
For me doing this exercise was an AHA moment! It helped me see how my existing strengths and skills would be useful in a completely new context. Seeing that bolstered my confidence in my choice to become a coach and feel capable of making it happen.
Focus on YOUR Process or Journey as a Creative Professional:
Practice paying attention to your own progress and growth and you will begin to build confidence in yourself. Daily, weekly or monthly reflect on your accomplishments and challenges you’ve overcome in your creative practice or career and what you are learning. Make it part of your creative practice and process! I help all my clients practice this as part of our check-in at the top of every coaching session.
It helps to:
acknowledge your progress
increase your awareness of what you are capable of
identify strategies that work for you
ultimately build confidence.
The act of doing (even if it is the smallest of steps) builds confidence. I like to ask clients
“What is a challenge you could set for yourself? Something that will help you prove to yourself that you can do it.
Finally, about that bit of calling yourself a “real” _______. A friend of mine shared an observation with me years ago that I have experienced to be true.
“If you are doing it and you call yourself that, that is how people will see you.”
Photo Credit: Cylla Von Tiedemann