I wrote in an article “first I get clients, then I acquire skills.”, and this Monday I received an email quoting that sentence followed by “That sounds like something a con artist would say.”
At first I was insulted, then I realized she is right.
A con-artist is a “confidence artist”, which describes surprisingly well what I do: I build confidence in myself to do things I want to do but don’t know how, and I help people gain the confidence to do things they want to do and don’t know how.
Over the last 12 years, I have received international recognition in 10 fields: judo, acting, coaching, public speaking, corporate training, charity fundraising, entrepreneurship, book writing, photography and cooking. When I started in each field, I was a novice and I had no idea what I was doing. Each time, I built on the previous success and created something of significance a bit faster. As a result, I grew the confidence that I can be successful in whatever I want.
A big part of my work is having conversations with people to help them build businesses and reinvent themselves into the person they really want to be. What I really do with my coaching clients is to help them build confidence in themselves and others.
There are six practices that I follow to build the confidence to create successes. My coaching clients follow the same process, and as a result they create successes of their own. You will find here a summary of six practices you can follow to build confidence in yourself and others to do something you don’t know how to.
- BEING HONEST IS THE BEST WAY TO BUILD CONFIDENCE IN OTHERS — I was 15 and I had what my dad called the “retarded hippie” look when I sold my first website. I told the client “I can do it for half of the competition’s price”, and when he asked me if I had built websites before, I replied “no”. The client was confused and asked why he should work with me and I replied “give me one month, and I will show you what I can do. If you’re happy with the result, you can work with me. If you’re not, you can work with them”. He gave me a month. When I returned with what I had built, he was impressed and gave me the job. They remained a client for 8 years and I built 3 versions of their website. The latest version is still up and running: www.depage.be
- PILOTING PROJECTS AT SMALL SCALE BUILDS CONFIDENCE FOR LARGER PROJECTS — when I dreamed the idea of creating a fine dining restaurant having no experience working in a restaurant and no training as a chef, everyone thought I was crazy. The first pilot was to create dishes. For about a month, every day I cooked individual plates, took photos of them and published them online. I received instant feedback from people’s reactions. Once I had enough dishes that were both beautiful and tasty, I was ready for the second pilot: I created a menu with my best 7 dishes and I invited friends to try. I asked for honest feedback and evolved the experience I had created. Once I had piloted the menu often enough, I offered it at a low price. As clients were happy I slowly increased the price, and once I felt comfortable, I started increasing number of dishes. Within 6 months, my restaurant become #4 best fine dining in the province, and one of my dishes was selected out of 40,000 restaurants for a list of “25 dishes to travel around the world for” (by Open Table — http://www.businessinsider.com/foods-you-have-to-try-around-the-world-2017-7)
- GAINING SKILLS AND KNOWLEDGE BUILD CONFIDENCE IN ONESELF — I have always been obsessed with learning, because the more skills and knowledge I have, the more confidence I gain in my abilities. As a result I became a corporate trainer, and helped people build their confidence in new skills. Since then, I have spent the majority of my income and free time on learning from others and acquiring new skills. One year, I worked with as many as 12 teachers / coaches on various aspects of my life and work. Steps I found to be useful in the process are:
(1) create an intellectual understanding of the new skills
(2) practice the new skill in a safe confined environment
(3) learn from one’s mistakes / successes and from observing others
(4) practice in the real world
(5) go back to step 1 or 3. With each repetition of this cycle, skills get better
- MEASURING RESULTS AND RECEIVING FEEDBACK BUILDS CONFIDENCE IN EVERYONE — when I started working as a corporate trainer, something interesting happened: a normality in that line of work is to give clients feedback forms at the end of each day. In my case, that meant reading more than 1,000 forms a year that told me how people felt about me and my work. As my background is engineering, I chose to input all paper feedback into an excel sheet. Within a few months, the picture became a lot clearer: I could see what courses got the best results, and what people liked / disliked most about my work. I adapted my work based on these comments, and improved little by little. As a result, I gained confidence in what I was both good at and not good at, as well as what people liked and didn’t like about me. By collecting and measuring these results, I could share them with new potential clients, which built confidence in them. As a result, I got more clients, more easily. I apply this method to everything I do because it helps me get better. The better I get, the more confidence I have in myself and the more confidence potential clients have in me.
- FAILING BUILDS CONFIDENCE IN WHAT YOU CAN PROMISE — I’ve always been really bad at replying to emails quickly. When I started offering email support to coaching clients, their problems felt urgent to them so there was an expectation that I would reply fast. I couldn’t do it consistently. I kept failing at replying with 24 or even 48h. I found myself meditating over an email for several days, and then I would meditate longer on the reply. When I would eventually send my reply, it would be impactful and helped clients trigger strong changes. By being honest with myself about what I’m not good at and what I fail at, I have learned to promise only what I know I can deliver: in my coaching agreement with clients, I specifically say “I do not promise to reply within 24 or 48h to your emails. What I promise you, is to send you a reply as soon as I have read your email at least three times, and that my reply will be meaningful and serve you”. As a result of promising only what I can deliver and clients are happy because they get what they paid for.
- BOLD ACTIONS AND PLANNING BUILDS CONFIDENCE IN OTHERS TAKING RISKS — while living in Poland, I applied for a job as a “Leadership Trainer” for an organization in London that was the perfect fit for me. When I received the invitation to an interview, I spent all the money I had to buy a flight ticket. I arrived 30 minutes late at the interview and apologized that my plane landed late. I explained that I had to be back in the office the same afternoon, and they were in shock that I booked a return journey the same day just to meet them. The interview went really well, so I decided to move to London. They invited me back to tell me they gave the job to someone else, and as they loved me, they wanted to create a new position for me. They had dreamed of recruiting a charity fundraising trainer and wondered if I could do that job. I asked them to give me all the material they had and I asked for a week to get back to them. I read through all the fundraising training their offered, and I checked everything I could do, and everything I couldn’t do. When I go back to them, I showed them my plan: over the first 8 weeks in the job, I would attend 10 fundraising workshops to see how they are delivered and learn the content, I would read 3 books about fundraising, and I would go into 2 successful charities to interview their fundraising team about how they do their job. I told them that I believed that within 8 weeks I could be ready to deliver all the workshops they wanted me to do. At my greatest surprise, they gave me the job. I worked with them for 18 months as an employee, and when I left to start my own company, they remained a client until I eventually moved to New York.
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