Everyone is doing it! How to stay confident when you have a lot of competition?

Portrait of a young tennis player standing ready for a serve

You are developing an app? So is everyone else.

You are raising money for a hedge fund? So is everyone else.

You are growing your social media presence? So is everyone else.

So how do you stay confident and keep the conviction that you can beat out your competition?

I often like to compare business to sports. In my case, I played competitive tennis in high school. I tend to look back to those few years as a tennis player when I analyze competition and confidence. I always found that on days that I felt sure of a win, I usually won. It was on the days that my competitor intimidated me and my confidence was shaken that I usually “played a safer match.” I wasn’t as aggressive with my serves and my returns were more defensive. To make matters worse, I often was battling my own negative thoughts of self-doubt and would miss opportunities to get ahead in the game.

The point is that if you are confident you are more likely to win and isn’t that what we all want?

Below are four steps to take to keep your confidence up when the competition start to get in your head and ruin your “game.”

Step 1: Figure out what makes you feel confident.

For some of my clients confidence comes from preparedness, for others it comes from ignorance (literally ignoring your competition.) Make sure you have great awareness of what works for you and channel it when you feel your confidence wavering.

Step 2: Create a list of situations when you were the underdog and came out on top

I often do this exercise with my clients and they are shocked how much better they feel after seeing a written list of accomplishments. If you are doing this exercise on your own, make sure you ask yourself these questions:

  • What are some of my proudest moments?
  • What was a time in my life when I was shocked by an outcome to the positive?
  • Did I write off a certain accomplishment because is wasn’t “big enough”? Why? Don’t compare to others just think about what truly felt as an accomplishment for you.

Step 3: Read your list over and over again. Remind yourself that you have surprised yourself by overcoming challenged and you will do so again and again.

This step is crucial and of course depends on the thorough self-analysis that you did in Step 2. If your list is “a joke” than this won’t work for you. I encourage you to go back to step 2 and rewrite your list. Oh and by the way, everyone has something on that list! If you were sitting across from me, I would not accept a blank sheet of paper and neither should you. If it has been a rough couple of years for you, go further back in history but make sure to find those moments worth being proud of.

Step 4: Call yourself out on the negative thoughts. Start talking – to yourself!

Confidence comes from an internal voice that either tells you that you can succeed or that you are going to fail. When you hear yourself say phrases that sounds like these:

  • “You can’t do this”
  • “others are more creative/smarter/better connected”
  • “Who are you kidding? You have no idea what you are doing”

Call yourself out on these thoughts and negate them.

Yep! You are going to be that weirdo talking to yourself, but it will be worth it.

Here is a typical conversation I might have with myself:

“Who are you kidding? You have no idea what you are doing.”

“Ok Helen, you are doing it again – you are self-doubting and you know that there is no merit to these thoughts. Have you prepared for this meeting? Yes!

Have you analyzed the situation? Yes!

Is there a chance you will win the deal? Yes!

Isn’t it true that your chances increase with more confidence? Yep!

Ok in that case – Stop doubting and start doing!”

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