I don’t really understand why I do it but I rarely appreciate the knowledge or experience I have. I’m quick to downplay any value I have by throwing up a name of someone better than me or highlighting an area I don’t know much about. This kind of attitude is crippling and stifles both my creativity and productivity. For my work (and in my social circles) I talk to a lot of fellow self employed women from different creative industries and this is something I see raise it’s ugly head time and time again. I’m definitely not alone in it. Too often we don’t value ourselves, our knowledge and our experience.
Let’s be honest, realistically there will ALWAYS be someone you perceive as ‘better’ than you, and funnily enough, it actually doesn’t really matter if they are better than you or not. The point is by shining your light on them you are taking it off yourself. You are not valuing your own expertise and knowledge, and you’re believing that their story and knowledge is greater than yours and what you have to offer just isn’t enough.
I want you to look at this from another perspective, no matter where you are up to in your business or in your life there will also be people behind you. When I say ‘behind’ I’m referring to people with less knowledge and experience than you in a particular field. To that person you might even be the person they think is better than them. Crazy, eh?
No matter where we are on this perceived ladder of ‘success’ we all have something to offer in our field of expertise.
By focusing on what we don’t know or can’t do (yet) we are missing the value in what we DO know and CAN do. My husband has given me many pep talks over the years when I get in this kind of funk. He will remind me that I know way more about social media and running an online business or blog than lots of people. When you are in a circle of friends who are in a similar industry to you, you can easily forget that the knowledge you all have isn’t what the general public have. Sure an ‘expert’ in social media marketing will know but maybe someone starting up a creative business that’s just opened up an Instagram account won’t.
Value your skill set, you’ve worked hard for it!
I’m not saying we should operate on a level of puffed up importance, sharing all our knowledge proudly to all those around us or even to pretend we have all the answers when we don’t. These attitudes help no one and most people see through that kind of BS these days, thankfully! I’m talking about owning what you do know, and not only should you be valuing this knowledge you have, you also need to believe in your capabilities.
This can be hard though, especially if we’re on the precipice of a big change. Far too often we wait and make excuses, we need to dot every proverbial i and cross every t before we feel ‘ready’. To read one more book, get that extra qualification, to have every eventuality mapped out, to fine tune the business plan again.
“We have found that women in particular often to seem to feel that until they have the complete solution they can’t start, and it holds them back from taking the first step.” –Sophie Cornish and Holly Tucker*
Sometimes we are waiting for someone else to come in and tell us what we should do, to make it happen or to fix it for us. Often the advice we get given isn’t even relevant to us, maybe we try it and it fails to fit , it’s like a square peg in a round hole. Maybe we’ve listened to a podcast on how to get a six figure salary from our business yet we actually just want a business that’s profitable and allows us to take off the summer holidays with our kids – not one where we have to work around the clock to ‘succeed’. The advice isn’t wrong it’s just not for you.
When we take a step back and review often we have the answers, we know what resonates with us. When I was a young mum I’d sometimes feel uncertain about my decisions and be given a whole load of conflicting, but well meaning advice. When I stopped doubting myself I usually found I knew what was right for me and my baby, this applies to running a business too. It’s a mix of knowledge, experience and some instinct thrown in for good measure too.
So if you’ve done your research, you’ve worked hard and are valuing your capabilities and experience there is really no stopping you. It’s not the magic formula for success, spoiler alert – there isn’t one, but it does stand you in strong stead. Whether it’s applying for that job you desperately want but are worried you don’t tick all the boxes, or starting your business that you’ve kept putting off because you’re nervous, you’ve got the knowledge, and the capabilities for it so take that leap.
If you can relate to these words and valuing your knowledge and skills is something you struggle with then I’d encourage you to spend some time focusing on what you do know and can do. You might need to chat to a close friend about it and get their insight. If you’re a blogger look at what you know now compared to when you started out, if you are a photographer look at photos you took when you started and compare them to a recent shoot.
Remember you are the expert in your own field, value that and value yourself.
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(*Founders of Not On The High Street, this quote is taken from their book, ‘Build a business from your kitchen table’)
Featured photo by R Swain Photography