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Friday, 18 March 2011

Facing Knockbacks - Lack of Self Confidence?

Sophia Elise, Manager of the NZ Art Guild shares how she deals with knockbacks as a Creative Entrpreneur.  Here's the article on The Big Idea website
Or you can read the interview below - we would love to hear how you have dealt with knockbacks and lack of self confidence - you can share with us by commenting on this post or on our facebook fanpage

As Managing Director of the NZ Art Guild and a creative business mentor, Sophia Elise is used to supporting others and knows a thing or two about how to stay focused when faced with a knockback.

“A knockback doesn’t have to be a knock out. We choose whether we stand back up and if you don’t get back up you won’t achieve anything.”

Sophia shares her personal experience and advice in this Generator QnA.

Have you ever had knockbacks, lost confidence or started to doubt your talent?
Over the last seven years there have been several times that a knockback has made me question my ability to create a successful business or event. The knockbacks come in various shapes and sizes; they can be internal or external and can be completely out of your control.

What did you do to get back on track?
I believe that the times when you feel your confidence is low and you experience self doubt it’s essential to take time out to reflect on all the things you have achieved. At times I have even written lists of my achievements so that I can get things in perspective. You suddenly realise that you have achieved more than you have given yourself credit for and it puts the one knockback that you have just experienced into perspective. Remember to take time to celebrate your successes.

Another thing I do is talk to my peers and mentors and ask them their thoughts. I believe it’s important to be open to constructive criticism so that you can grow as a person and a business. Most of the time people are more than willing to share insight, advice and information – you just need to ask. The support and encouragement they can offer you can be essential to getting back on track. Surround yourself with good people.

When I’ve had a knockback in regards to a project or event I’ve stepped back and re-clarified my intention. I then looked at alternative ways to move forward with it. How can I get around it? Who else can I talk to? What do I need to change? What do I need to learn? If there is a way to achieve it and the project will deliver what you need and want then persevere by instituting plan B.

If I get continual knockbacks for a project, I’ve had to stop and analyse why. I’ve needed to be honest and impartial in my assessment (which is hard when you are passionate about or emotionally involved with the project) It’s important to acknowledge that there are valid reasons for the knockbacks, maybe it’s just timing (eg. trying to get sponsorship for art awards during a recession) and if so you may need to let it go and put your energy into a project that has more potential for success and results.

A project can be parked while you establish more contacts, gain more knowledge, increase finances, wait for external influences to pass and then that project can be picked up again later. It doesn’t mean it’s over forever; it’s just not the right time for that project.
Another way of overcoming the self doubt is to set yourself an achievable goal. If you have had to park a project or let it go, focus your energy and attention into another project or business area. Choose something that comes easily to you, which you know you will succeed with. This can help remind you what your strengths are and boost your confidence again.

It’s important to remember that whenever you make a mistake or have a knockback that affects your confidence that you don’t spend too long looking back at it. No one wins them all. Everyone makes mistakes and experiences set backs – they are just part of our growth. They help us to know our limits. Shake off the self doubt and lack of confidence – don’t quit, because your turn will come.

How do you deal with a 'no' - particularly one that is important to your project?
I think that most people when they get a ‘no’ start to question themselves and the project. That’s not a bad thing, it’s natural and it’s important, as it makes us improve, change direction, innovate, persevere etc.

I like to make sure I understand why they’ve said no. This is so I can work out if it’s something inherent that needs to be changed or maybe it just wasn’t the right door I knocked on. Remember not to take it personally – it’s not you as an individual they are saying no to – but your idea, concept, proposal.

It’s important to try and remain objective so that you don’t get stuck on one way being the right and only way. Sometimes you have to look at alternative ways to address the issue and reassess your expectations and priorities.

It’s important to keep the knockbacks in perspective. For example, when I didn’t win a business award, I looked at the level of competition I was up against and celebrated how far I had come to even be in the same category as them. It’s not that I wasn’t worthy – it was just that someone else was more worthy.

When you are lacking confidence, do you wait till this passes or do you get on with it anyway?
If you have other people relying on you to keep the business ticking over you don’t have the luxury to wait till it passes.

I also believe that if you focus inwardly on the negative it can contribute to a lack of confidence and a downward spiral where if you focus on giving out it can help you stay on track.

Has self doubt and a lack of confidence helped you achieve or bring a project to successful fruition?
I don’t believe that self doubt or a lack of confidence brings a project to successful fruition. What will make it a success is the way you respond to that self doubt.

A knockback doesn’t have to be a knock out. We choose whether we stand back up and if you don’t get back up you won’t achieve anything. We make a decision about whether we persevere or give up – Thomas Edison said when inventing the light bulb “I’ve not failed I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”

It comes down to the way you look at set backs, no’s, mistakes etc. If you treat the obstacles as an opportunity for learning you won’t suffer from the downward spiral of self doubt and lack of confidence.

What’s the best advice you have ever been given about dealing with knockbacks?
I don’t think there is one single piece of advice I have been given – it’s more a combination of advice which include
- If you can’t change the situation change the way you look at it
- Be prepared to listen, analyse and change
- Never ever give up
- And remember that necessity is the mother of all inventions

Sophia Elise Profile
Sophia Elise is the Managing Director of the NZ Art Guild, which provides support, promotion, opportunities and resources to NZ visual artists.

In 2009 she won the David Awards for Most Community Minded Business. In 2010 she was a finalist in the David Awards for Most Inspired Use of Marketing and Most Community Minded Business and was also a finalist in the Her Businesswoman of the Year Awards for Outstanding Business Citizenship.

She was one of 13 Auckland creative entrepreneurs to be awarded a place on the ART Venture Programme 2010. Sophia provides business mentoring for start up businesses under her company Creative Business Consultants. She is also a visual artist who has exhibited extensively throughout NZ and overseas. Sophia is active within the art community as a Member of the Board of Trustees for Mairangi Art Centre and a member of the ART Generator Network.

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