Be Smart About Art

What knocks your confidence?

written by: Susan Mumford Feb. 19, 2017 Sunday blog - The art world in bite-sized stories 901 views

What knocks your confidence?

from our Sunday reading series - a weekly blog post (subscribe here

In January 2017, Tamara Gal-On, a business coach for creatives and I set to surveying what knocks confidence and empowers it, with a focus on artists and creatives. The responses have been illuminating, so much so that my mind keeps returning to the subject. And, since it was anonymous, respondents felt free to be candid about the role they feel confidence plays in their careers.  

One of the questions asked was, “Are there certain things that trigger doubt in yourself?

In a recent conversation with a colleague, he confessed that the number one thing holding back his career is a fear of public speaking. This is very close to several answers to that question in the survey. While I hadn’t anticipated this subject from the audience of creatives, it was there, plain as day.  

This brings to mind a statistic that I learned when long-time associate Andy Lopata co-authored the book …and death came third! The thinking behind the title is that, according to a 1984 “New York Times” survey on social anxiety, respondents’ top fears were, in order: 1) walking into a room full of strangers; 2) speaking in public; and 3) death. Andy’s book addresses the first two cited anxieties.

What stands out from Tamara and my recent survey, much like Andy’s book, is the importance of becoming aware of the things that trigger self-doubt, fear and the like. Once cognizant of such internal and external forces, you can address them with the intention of lessening their negative impact going forward. And while public speaking might seemingly be a necessary evil, addressing it head-on and conquering the fear can be greatly empowering.

In the photograph at the top of the page, you see yours truly speaking to camera. While many people must think I’m a natural at public speaking, here’s a confession: it wasn’t always the case. Although I studied acting as a teenager, I wasn’t prepared to make business presentations until many years later. Ultimately, a single realisation helped me overcome fears of public speaking: while I was all too aware of my nerves, nobody else could see what was happening inside my head. Moreover, I came to see the activity as a form of creative expression. By putting myself on stage and in front of the camera, I eventually became comfortable and even started to enjoy the craft of public speaking. While my friend may not come to love the activity, addressing the fear will go a long way to enabling him to get out and promoting his creative enterprise.

What about you? What knocks your confidence? Our recent survey underlines the importance of awareness, so that you’re positioned to knock triggers of doubt on the head.  

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Not yet answered the CONFIDENCE for Creatives Survey? Owing to ongoing interest in this research, we’ve decided to keep the questionnaire open, for at least a big longer! Please give your two cents on what confidence means to you and how it’s impacted your career (positively and/or negatively) by completing the survey.

Also, the online course start date has been moved to Tuesday 7th March. The three live sessions will take place on 7th March, 21st March and 4th April. These sessions will be available to course participants for a three-month period, in addition to supportive materials for use in everyday life, such a confidence meditations, role play exercises and more. Participants are set to receive access the online course platform this coming Tuesday, 21st February. To find out more about the course and to register, head here.   

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