As a content strategist, my clients often admit that they feel uncomfortable sharing a live video or a vulnerable blog post because they don’t know who’s viewing it. “What if my aunt, pastor, 5th grade teacher, grocery store clerk or high school sweetheart watches or reads it?” They’re so fearful of other people’s opinions that I first need to teach them how to not care what people think before we can even dive into developing a strong online presence and marketing strategy. And that’s okay.
As a solo business owner, I’ve learned and grown and needed to adjust my mindset time and time again. Without a sounding board of coworkers or a supervisor to give you the go-ahead, making decisions on your own can be terrifying. You’ll suddenly find yourself questioning everything. Why?
Fear is what holds us back when we’re working on our own. Learning how to put yourself out there is the key that opens doors for you to take risks and grow your business. But man, oh man. Fear is one strong opponent. Here are a few ways to reign in the fear, stop caring about everyone else and thrive in your business — and your life.
Grow From Criticism
If you’re already feeling anxious, agitated or fearful, you’re probably not even going to hear other people’s opinions. But that doesn’t mean people won’t give them to you — especially online. When criticism is brought to your attention, you have two options: react to it, or soak it up. Now, it’s uncomfortable to sponge up criticism, but it’s only when you’ve truly absorbed the message that you can actually learn from it. Just think: Are you going to react to every single comment that’s left on your videos or Twitter posts, good and bad, or are you just going to listen to the ones that give you genuine, actionable advice?
The next step is deciphering if the criticism is objective or constructive. Objective criticism sounds like an insult, but constructive criticism is usually delivered with tact and is meant to help you grow or improve in some way. Processing both forms is simple: Ignore objective criticisms, and understand there’s a lesson behind everything that’s delivered constructively. Don’t reject the lesson because it makes you uncomfortable.
Most importantly, know that you aren’t personally tied to these criticisms, even if you’re being told you’re doing something incorrectly. Anyone who offers objective feedback needs to work on themselves. It’s not you. And people who offer constructive feedback are doing it as a form of kindness, not judgment.
If you really want to learn how to tune out the criticism, you’re going to have to reevaluate how you think about yourself. Are you holding yourself back in business because you’re fearful you aren’t good enough? In her book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, Brene Brown says, “Nothing has transformed my life more than realizing that it’s a waste of time to evaluate my worthiness by weighing the reaction of the people in the stands.”
You’re the only person that can convince the world how worthy you are and what a perfect person you’d be to work with — and building an authentic online presence that shows people the real you is the first step toward standing out to clients you want to work with. If you don’t believe in your worth, others won’t either. It’s time to start trusting your abilities and stop worrying about everything else.
But know that not everyone will like you. You will lose leads because you didn’t “click.” Other customers may not continue contracts because they didn’t love how you approached business. In no way do their opinions reflect on your skills or personality.
As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Are you allowing other people’s beliefs — or worse, how you think they feel — color your own view of yourself and your business strengths? Stop giving them this type of control over your business (and life). Take back your power.
Embracing yourself means being the guiding light in your own life. Stop letting others steal your shine.
Stop Fearing the Stoplight
Alright, I get it. Being visible is scary, even for the more extroverted indys. That doesn’t mean you should sit on the sidelines watching your competition win over and over again. In 2015, a Saudi Arabian security engineer named Mohammed Qahtani was honored with the title “World Champion of Public Speaking” at Toastmasters International. Growing up, he had a stutter that crept up on him occasionally in adulthood, and he became fearful to speak in public. That all changed when he decided to own his role as an expert every time he was about to step on a stage and give a speech.
“I’m not saying this to be an egotist!” he says in a Business Insider article, “But keep in mind that you are better than everyone who’s watching you because you have the courage to stand and they don’t.”
In an interview with Marie Forleo, Seth Godin offers a similar perspective. While both suggest being brave, Godin recommends being the first to take the risks. He says, “The people who win at Jeopardy aren’t better than the people who lose at Jeopardy, except in one thing. They press the buzzer before anybody else.” Are you ready to press the buzzer on your business?
My best advice about learning how to forget everyone else’s opinions and lead your best life — personally and in business — was found in a children’s book. As Dr. Suess says, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”