Confidence appears at the center of so many success stories. For photographers who haven’t achieved the success they dream of, confidence is a scarce resource. Yet successful professionals have plenty of it, and it appears to replicate itself.
People lacking confidence tend to hide behind the idea that success eludes them because it’s not really possible. But that’s a fiction we tell ourselves as a defense mechanism. Success is there for people willing to put in the work, not just on their businesses but on themselves.
Julie Solomon is an author, a business coach, host of “The Influencer Podcast,” and the closing keynote speaker at Imaging USA 2023 in January in Nashville, Tennessee. She notes that confidence fuels everything successful people do. To help people achieve great things, she promotes a process of overcoming self-doubt and building the confidence to push through all those layers of fear. This process begins with the three As of confidence building: awareness, acceptance, and action.
“The most overlooked part of doing anything well doesn’t lie outside but within us,” says Solomon. “Get real with yourself. Push beyond your fears by questioning those self-limiting thoughts, that stinking thinking that keeps us from growing ourselves and our businesses. You have to focus on that inner work first.”
People often want to bypass this internal work because it can be the most difficult part of the process. It’s easier to focus on business strategy and action items than to dig into the root causes of problems. But to make positive changes in your career, you first need to understand the part you’re playing and why you’re not experiencing the success you want.
The first step is awareness. A lot of us can’t achieve that awareness until we have some sort of catalyst. It could be a major shift in our business or even a rock-bottom moment that forces us to face reality. If it’s the latter, use that downturn to your advantage. “Allow those horrible moments, the things we want to avoid, to serve as signposts pointing you toward the areas of life that need the most attention,” says Solomon. “The flip side of any weakness is building a strength. So how do we use those moments to get better?”
“Someone else can always see your blind spots better than you.”Julie Solomon
You need to be coachable. You have to be open to new ideas and willing to accept assistance. You could start by finding a coach, a mentor, or a friend who can help you jump those personal hurdles and get to a place where you can unpack your unrealized fears and issues. “Someone else can always see your blind spots better than you,” says Solomon.
You also need to recognize that you don’t know it all. Solomon points out the two most common objections people make: Nothing ever works for me, and I know this already.
But those are excuses. They are the stories we tell to avoid putting in the hard work on ourselves. We need to push past excuses and open ourselves up to change. It’s OK if you’re not excited about doing that work, but to progress, you need to be willing to put in the effort.
This is acceptance. This is the uncomfortable place where we come to grips with the part we’re playing. “We’re accepting reality on reality’s terms,” explains Solomon. “We’re getting to a place where we recognize there is a piece of the puzzle that no longer fits, and it’s our responsibility to remove it.”
“You have to accept your role, see your part to play, and then change the script.”Julie Solomon
The action stage is where you put your plan into place. “A lot of times people want to go straight to action,” says Solomon. “They want to go fix it. But it’s not about fixing. You have to accept your role, see your part to play, and then change the script.”
Expressed as a photography metaphor, imagine that you’re looking at a scene and you want to create a specific image, but no matter how many times you click the shutter, you’re not getting the result you want. After some consideration, you realize that you’re using the wrong lens. Do you keep clicking away with the wrong lens hoping for a different result? Or do you change the lens, then formulate a plan to capture the image that’s in your mind?
“Successful people work on becoming the person they need to be in the future so they can work on what they need to do today.”Julie Solomon
So much of this process relies on having the right kind of mindset. Solomon expresses this mindset as be, do, have as opposed to have, do, be.
Many people’s idea of success is that after they have all the things they want, they can do better and ultimately be the person they want to be. Solomon stresses that this paradigm should be flipped. The more productive approach is to become the person who believes it’s possible to get what they want before trying to put any plan into action. “Believe you have to be the person to do what’s necessary to have what you want,” she says. “It’s the idea of becoming who you want to be. Successful people work on becoming the person they need to be in the future so they can work on what they need to do today.”
“We’re in sales whether we want to admit it or not. The key is to differentiate hard sales, which focuses on wins, from sales that focus on service. Pitching is really about serving people first.”Julie Solomon
With a success mindset in place, confidence emerges more easily—not just generalized confidence but confidence in yourself as a service provider and confidence in the value of what you produce. With this confidence, you can more effectively pitch your services and start taking direct action to improve your business.
“You really have to see pitching as a service,” says Solomon. If you believe in the value of what you provide, and if you believe that your clients will enjoy and cherish what you’re offering, then you’re providing a service by pitching them. Taken a step further, if they would be better off after experiencing what you have to offer, then you’re doing people a disservice by not pitching them. You’re robbing them of the opportunity to have something that would change their lives for the better.
“Many people have the perception that sales is sleazy and they don’t want to do it,” says Solomon. “However, we’re in sales whether we want to admit it or not. The key is to differentiate hard sales, which focuses on wins, from sales that focus on service. Pitching is really about serving people first.” If you see pitching as a service and allow yourself to show up and pitch your services, then you can build more confidence. With more confidence, you can go after the bigger deals and the types of clients that will help you take your business where you want it to go. This process circles back to be, do, have. You’re building confidence to be the person you aspire to be, then using that confidence to do the pitch so you can have the kind of business you’ve always wanted.
You’re worth it, after all. You just need to believe it.
Jeff Kent is editor-at-large.
Tags: bridging the gap sales