Crafty confidence: how do you find it and keep it?

When I was a kid, I was always the centre of attention. I like to think I’m self aware enough to know I was on the verge of being “stage school” obnoxious. Without having put one foot in a stage school.

I like to place the blame for my narcissistic tendencies firmly at my family’s door. I’m the youngest in my family by a long way. My two sisters are 12 and 14 years older than me, and when little Jacqueline came along in the early 80s, I was happy to perform “walk like a dinosaur” in the front room, acapella, with dance moves, just for the applause.

 Little Jackie loved playing "guess what's behind the balloon" from an early age.

Little Jackie loved playing "guess what's behind the balloon" from an early age.

You can picture it, right? 

This confidence has boded me well in my teenage years (never was afraid to tell unsuitable boys to “bog off”) and has also given me the nickname “gobby” many a time.

However, when it comes to the creative side of me, the confident reservoirs run dry.

I used to play saxophone at school, got to grade 8 infact and toured Europe at 16 with a small wind orchestra. I could play for strangers, even played in the Royal Albert Hall and Westminster Abbey, but ask me to play for my family and I literally could have vomited.

I was TERRIFIED of being judged and to show that side of me so openly, which is very weird, as that is the safest place to show it – with your loving family!

I understand how being so vulnerable to show your creative talents can be absolutely petrifying.

So, in my facebook group, the subject of confidence has come up a lot. Especially for the crafter or creative who has started to think about selling their wares to strangers.

How can you give yourself a confidence boost? How can you overcome those niggles and turn that negative voice into a positive cheerleader style supportive one? How can you stop thinking that your craft isn’t “good enough” which will only hinder your creative juices?

Ask yourself “What’s the worst that can happen?”

Sometimes it’s the what ifs that paralyse us. What if I make this and no one buys it? What if I post this on Facebook and my work colleagues see it and I get ridiculed? What if people laugh at my products?

For every what if niggle you have, ask yourself, what’s the worst that could happen?

Put your fears into perspective. No one would laugh at someone being creative. In my own experience when people in my day job have discovered my creative business they have been flabbergasted. They’ve wanted to talk to me about it, wanted to find out more, been amazed I find the time and, I honestly believe it’s made them think of me in a more positive light.

Put yourself out there. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

I once had a business coach and she told me that when it starts to feel uncomfortable that is EXACTLY the time to push through and analyse and get to the bottom of the feeling. Your comfort zone is to keep you safe, but if you want to make an impact you have to place one foot outside of your comfy circle of safety and go boldly where no crafter has gone before.

You cannot grow if you do not move outside of your comfort zone and YOU are always your worst critic.

Seriously, what is the worst that can happen?

Side note – if you do receive negativity from your craft, whilst it may bruise and it may sting, step back and think “are they my ideal customer?”. I bet you they are not. I have encountered this with my business, people not willing to pay my prices, saying “I wouldn’t pay that price for THAT” but they are always outside of my ideal customer profile. They are not who I’m trying to reach, so of course they will not be positive about my offering. And that is fine. That is totally fine, and I will not let it knock me off course to keep focussed on the people who value and want my products and service.

Try something new

Confidence comes in many guises. And confidence sometimes comes from the strangest places.

Try a new challenge. Could be something as simple as trying a complicated dinner recipe, or a new hairstyle, or a bold red lipstick.

All these small nudges towards stepping out of the norm will again boost your confidence.

Imagine the feeling of presenting your beef wellington to a group of friends for dinner and them devouring it with sumptuous “mms” and “aaahs”. Think about walking around town with the daring red lipstick on and getting a couple of “wink wink” looks from strangers. Feels good doesn’t it. That’s your confidence growing.

Small steps all make a difference.

Be inspired

When my creative confidence tank is running low, I go to youtube.

 A life changing book - a big recommendation for me and if you like podcasts, have a look at her big magic episodes.

A life changing book - a big recommendation for me and if you like podcasts, have a look at her big magic episodes.

I search for inspiring videos from Ted Talks to men who couldn’t walk, now running marathons, Tony Robbins, Marie Forleo and Elizabeth Gilbert. I look at creative people funding their lives solely from their art. I listen to businessmen and women talking about how they’ve encountered failed businesses and hurdles and barriers and continued to push on through to their successes.

Sometimes we can all get inside our heads waaaaay too much.

So going outside for inspiration is a great technique to think bigger than us. To get some perspective.

How can you not feel like everything is achievable if the guy who broke his leg finished the 400m race?

Last but not least, fake it.

I’ve used this one A LOT. As someone who is deemed naturally confident, it comes as a surprise to some people that that isn’t always the script in my head. So, when those opportunities arise, I fake it. I put on my big girl pants and I just do my best.

And do you know what? I ALWAYS feel amazing afterwards. I’ve used this when public speaking at school and job interviews, important corporate presentations and saying yes to the commission without having a clue how to make it, but knowing I can work it out.

Put your craft out there as if it is ALREADY the success you wish it to be. Don’t give anyone the opportunity to tell you otherwise.

As with every change, there is an element of practice with these tips. You’ll have to keep referring to them and it may be a conscious effort at first, but after time, you’ll be able to feel the niggle arising, take a deep breath, tap into your confidence vault and do what you’ve gotta do.

- Jackie