If you’re concerned about your business surviving the pandemic, you’re not alone. A report from the Society for Human Resource Management found that more than half of small businesses are worried they won’t be able to stay open for more than six months if something doesn’t change.
Getting through these hard times is challenging, and the majority of small-business owners are experiencing increased levels of stress, especially women. While no one has a crystal ball that can reveal the future, one of the most powerful tools we do have is looking to the past. I call it our confidence anchors, and they can help you weather a storm.
What Is a Confidence Anchor?
A confidence anchor is the memory of a time you overcame adversity. It’s a moment that redefined what was possible for you. Everyone has at least one anchor, and it doesn’t have to be related to your business. For example:
- You were on a high school baseball team that won the state championship even though the odds were stacked against your team was considered the underdog.
- You reached a new personal sales record after landing a new client.
- You stuck to your New Year’s resolution and finally hit the fitness goal you set years ago.
- You were named to your city business magazine’s list of professionals to watch.
Whatever the event may be, it was a turning point that allowed you to make changes going forward and redefine who you are. It catapulted you to the next level of confidence in what’s possible.
What a Confidence Anchor Is Not
While confidence anchors can be powerful, they require the right perspective. As you achieve win over win, it’s tempting to develop unconditional confidence, patting yourself on the back. However, there’s a big difference between confidence and cockiness. Cockiness is confidence taken to the extreme. It’s expecting the best because you believe you are the best and it can lead to destruction.
Also beware of confusing a confidence anchor with a peak. You don’t want to look back on your last win and think you’ve arrived and hit the pinnacle of your career. As soon as you do, everything from there will be downhill. Think of the high school quarterback who spends his adult life reliving the glory days. The best is not behind you.
My Confidence Anchors
I have several confidence anchors I leverage whenever I feel a storm brewing. For example, in high school I made it to the Georgia state wrestling tournament as the last-ranked competitor in my weight class. For most of my childhood, I was overweight and making the roster was a major accomplishment on its own. During the tournament, I was paired with one of the best wrestlers in the state and had pretty much resigned myself to losing. On the mat, something snapped inside me. I gave it 100 percent, won the match, and moved on to the state finals, surprising the team, my coach, and the crowd.
Another confidence anchor is when I when I broke the all-time sales record for Southwestern Advantage as a 20-year old college student. During that year, I sold more books than any of the 200,000-plus people who had worked with Southwestern Advantage since the sales and leadership program for university students was founded in 1868. This accomplishment helped me pay my way through school and even landed me on The Dave Ramsey Show in an episode about college students who were graduating debt-free.
If someone had told me years earlier that I’d accomplish such bold goals, I would have thought they were joking. But the power of confidence anchors is that each new win builds momentum for the next one, pushing you through the next storm when you’ve considered quitting.
Using Your Confidence Anchors
While it’s true we all win some and lose some, it’s human nature to dwell on our losses. The brain’s default setting has a negativity bias, but you can override it when you take time to acknowledge the positive. Reflecting on wins can create stepping-stones. Once you recognize an accomplishment, it can fuel you to accomplish even more.
For example, after winning the high school wrestling match, I had the confidence to go all in on sports and ended up earning a college scholarship to play NCAA football. My success at Southwestern Advantage gave me the confidence to cofound Southwestern Consulting, a sales and leadership coaching, speaking, and training business that has grown into a nearly $18 million company with three divisions in just over a decade.
Another way to use your confidence anchors is to examine them and identify the things you do well that created the win. Then duplicate that version of yourself when you face your next challenge. Focusing on the strengths you have inside provides a positive anchor that can build confidence in any situation.
We don’t have a crystal ball that will tell us when life will return to a new sense of normal. But just as an anchor keeps a boat steady during rough waters, a confidence anchor will help you weather the storms in your life. Relying on them can be the difference between a life ruled by stress and anxiety and an ability to face challenges with calm self-reliance.
What are your confidence anchors? And how will you use them to keep your business—and your optimism—afloat?
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