By Ellen Ercolini (Founder, The Creative Giraffe)
As a young woman and business owner, it took me about a year to stop second-guessing every decision I made. I wanted to consult my girlfriends, talk about it on Facebook, and generally get positive reinforcement from my tribe that my decision was a good one.
There were many “I’m thinking about doing this” or “Do you think this sounds…” emails sent. After a year of this long, circular process, it dawned on me that the only approval I needed most was from myself. I kept asking others to validate me, because I was scared to validate myself. I thought it wouldn’t be enough. I needed to trust myself that I know what’s right for me and my company.
It is a much quicker decision making process when you’re tuned into yourself, and what you believe is true and right. Rather then waiting for your 6 friends and Aunt Mary to get back to you. I found that once I started turning inward for guidance, I became a lot clearer in what I stood for, what my business was about, and what I wanted to do. I suddenly became much less susceptible to being knocked off balance by a negative remark to one of my ideas – because the ideas were coming from me, tied to my core, which is an unshakeable bond, rather than from my community, which is a much more tenuous connection.
Trust is a gateway emotion. When you have more trust in yourself, it leads to more confidence. Confidence leads to conviction and conviction can lead to funding. What I’ve seen time and time again within my community of female entrepreneurs’ is the people who rise highest the fastest are the ones that trust themselves.
As women, we have generations of conditioning to overcome. Now is the time. Women are going into business for themselves more than ever before. We have brilliant ideas and visions, and we what need is to trust ourselves that we are right. We need to listen to Rosie the Riveter, who had the right idea so many years ago: we can do it. It has to come from us. We hold within us all that we need.
So how do we nurture trust in ourselves? How do we bring our inner knowing into the company building conversation? How can we turn trust into conviction?
Cut out “I don’t know” from your vocabulary. So often it’s used as a screen to hide or distract from how we really feel. The next time you feel yourself about to say, “I don’t know” ask yourself instead “What do I know is true?” The answers might surprise you, and that’s ok.
Ask yourself “What do I want?” This can be used throughout your life, not just in business conversations. By practicing asking yourself what you want, and listening to the answer, you will open up and develop your relationship with your own trust. Over time, your inner answers will be louder and you’ll be able to hear them even in stressful and difficult situations.
Remind yourself why you do this. It’s so important not to get lost in the day-to-day minutia of startup culture that we forget why we’re doing this. We’re all making sacrifices and facing challenges, be sure to keep your ‘why I do this’ accessible so that you can remind yourself how much this is worth it. Make sure that your ‘why’ is big enough that when you say it, you feel it in your gut, and you know you’re on the right path for you. Trust yourself that your gut knows what’s right.
Learning to trust yourself can be a long and tenuous process, but it doesn’t have to be. Listening to yourself and trusting yourself, is a muscle that can be stretched and strengthened, but you need to use it. Just like any new workout routine, start small and work your way up. Keep asking yourself what you know and what you want, and you will become a woman with deep conviction in herself.
About the guest blogger: Ellen Ercolini is Founder of The Creative Giraffe. She teaches generation Y how to make amazing decisions, fast. She believes that inspiration doesn’t mean anything without action attached to it. She loves working with entrepreneurs to sharpen their visions and deepen their impact in the world. Her naturally creative approach to life enables her to specialize in making the overwhelming become fun and attainable. Follow her on Twitter at @EllenErcolini.