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It is the recurring theme for many of us. Our hearts (and our mothers) tell us we are good at what we do, and that such-and-such is lucky to have us. We’ve read the books, listened to motivational speakers, and read inspiring quotes. So what is with the voice inside of our heads that keeps warning us of the dangerous world out there? Why do we think that making a change will not work for us? We freeze and become afraid of doing the wrong things, like asking for the close, or making a mistake, or ruining our reputation… The result is that we spin in circles. We want to, but we can’t. It chips away at our confidence and is a silent career killer.

How can we get out of this endless loop?

A few times each year I give away Uncovery Sessions as my thank you to my followers. Most times the sessions are filled with talking about confidence issues. Whether it is the creative entrepreneur who can’t figure out how to find the right clients because he or she is worried that specializing will drive potential clients away, or a stay-at-home mom who has supporter her husband and kids for the last twenty years and now wants to define her own identity—the underlying themes are similar. I group them into these categories:

1.) I don’t know how. This is the group who often had success early on or was comfortable for a long time. But when some event brought on a major change or the market soured, they resisted and either lost a job or key clients. They are frantically figuring out what to do next and how to become current again. They often try a variety of things, but none of them long enough to stick. This group is insecure.

2.) I don’t want to. While they know what they do is not working, they keep trying the same thing again and again with disastrous consequences. Compare this to an alcoholic. Unless they reach the bottom, they will not change. They can be in a downward spiral for years. It is very painful for those around them to watch. This group always has to be right.

3.) I don’t know why X happened to me (the market, other people undercutting, a disaster, divorce, custody battle, lay-off, loss of key client. This group is attached to the victim mentality. It was once good and now it isn’t. It has to be someone else’s fault. As long as it wasn’t directly their fault, they can hold on a long time hoping for magical transformations. This group seems to have the hardest time making changes and they complain the most. These are the victims.

4.) I don’t think this would work for me. A very interesting group, indeed. They argue anything and everything. Even if it has worked for a thousand other people, they believe they are different and it can’t work for them. Books, facts, examples, and case studies are meaningless because they have an opinion on everything. They see the world only through their eyes and have to experience every emotion and mistake on their own. They don’t believe in anything other what they have experienced themselves. They live in their own world with their own rules. These are the worriers.

5.) I want to, but don’t know how? This group is my favorite. Often we uncover an underlying trauma, like a childhood with bullying, teasing, or parents who divorced, or even the fear of not fitting in because of they were schooled at home. This group is simply lacking tools and doesn’t know how to enlist support from their surroundings. Once we break through what is holding them back and give them a framework, they are off and running. These are the fighters.

Lack of confidence stems from our fear that the next thing will be worse than what we have. Like if our current relationship falls apart, we will never find another. Or (and this one is a mystery to me) if we let go of our current job in a profession we don’t really care about, we will never make money doing something we enjoy and love doing!

Do you fit or do you know anyone who fits in one of the groups above? How do you get through your own resistance to making changes?

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