In this article I explore some of the hurdles we’re facing as a creative industry, what self-confidence is and how we can generate more of it by adopting an entrepreneurial mindset (even when the world is falling apart).
Our ‘non-viable’ Industry
This week, despite initial optimism earlier this month that the UK theatre industry will be back to business in the coming weeks, Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s winter support plan1 made it quite clear that the creative and hospitality sectors were not on the list of ‘viable’ industries eligible to receive additional funding to reopen anytime soon.
With this “almighty blow”, as producer Sonia Friedman aptly described the decision 2, it’s really no wonder there’s such a widespread feeling of insecurity, anxiety and lack of confidence; both in live performance returning to normal anytime soon, and our confidence in the government to make good decisions on behalf of the creative artists and workers who are eligible for little to no income support3.
Our minds are running wild with self-critical thoughts, stress and fear for our careers and livelihoods.
As a Coach with ties to the West End, I’m interested in helping shift this fixed negative mindset and do what I can to help generate much needed self-confidence that will allow the industry to bounce back quickly when it’s safe to do so.
What is self-confidence?
Self-confidence is a feeling of trust and belief in one’s abilities, qualities, and judgement4. The theory being, while you may not currently have the skills or resources yet to succeed, you know you have the ability to get them.
When it comes to generating self-confidence, it’s important to remember that confidence can only be created by you and your thoughts about a given situation. Counter-intuitively, we must believe in our ability to succeed before we can actually achieve success.
Neuroscientific research has taught us that the brain has neuroplasticity; a fancy catch-all term for the many ways in which the nervous system changes and develops over time in response to everything we do and experience in life.5 Your current thought patterns are neural networks that you’ve reinforced in your brain over time.
If we want to change our levels of confidence, we have to change the way we think. By this, I don’t mean ‘just think positively’ (you can ditch those positive affirmations in my opinion!).
Growth vs Fixed Mindset
If you’ve not heard of the concept of a Growth vs Fixed Mindset, listen in, because how you see yourself and the world is directly linked to your levels of confidence in both!
Individuals who believe their skills and talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies, and input from others) have a growth mindset. They tend to achieve more than those with a more fixed mindset (those who believe their abilities and choices are ‘fixed’ and therefore not able to develop). It’s possible this is because they worry less about looking smart, pleasing others in the process, and put more energy into learning, risking failure and growing over time.6
When it comes to the constant waves of negativity swirling on my social media feed (I’m going to take a guess that yours is the same!) it’s important to understand that a fixed, negative mindset is going to get us nowhere as a creative community; we’ll keep spiralling down the negativity spiral! (I’ve written more about the Negativity Spiral (and how to get out of it) HERE).
The Entrepreneurial Mindset
An even better route to industry confidence is adopting and deploying an Entrepreneurial Mindset, which is a way of thinking about yourself and/or the industry that captures and utilises the benefits of uncertainty.7 Essentially, a growth mindset which sees uncertainty as an ally!
A few questions to challenge your entrepreneurial mindset are these –
- How might I be able to capitalise on uncertainty?
- What skills or talents do I have to bring to the table?
- Who else can I join with to create and collaborate?
- What can I learn to upskill myself to help achieve success in the future? [You can find a free tutorial for pretty much anything on Youtube these days!]
An entrepreneurial mindset is also about believing that perfect isn’t always better. Slow is more expensive than wrong. I’d encourage everyone to try new things and be prepared for them to be a big huge failure and that way, at least you’re training your brain to see obstacles as hurdles to jump over, rather than blockers to progress.
What story are you telling yourself about 2020?
Cognitive behavioural therapies rely heavily on the assumption that thoughts determine our feelings8 Adopting a confident entrepreneurial mindset starts with rewriting the story we may be telling ourselves about the current situation.
One of my favourite confidence-boosting activities is a creative writing exercise (no professional writing qualification required). Here’s how….
Q: What story are you telling yourself about this year, and the impact 2020 has had on you and your work? Write it all down!
We all have an unconscious narrative that we tell ourselves and others about our lives and who we are. You will have your own story about your own life, career and your role and abilities in each.
- The industry is doomed?
- You’re unemployable?
- There are no jobs?
- You don’t have the right transferrable skills?
- You’re not creative/intelligent/confident…..enough?
None of this negative self-talk will be feeding you confidence, and certainly isn’t serving you to generate anything other than anxiety and worry!
“Whatever you hold in your mind on a consistent basis is exactly what you will experience in your life.” -Tony Robbins (Author and Coach)
Now, here’s the TWIST.
Write the same story but using ONLY NEUTRAL facts and thoughts (even some positive ones if you truly believe them!). No negative thoughts or interpretations please. Off you go….
Finally, look back at both versions of the same story and see how each of them make you feel.
By stripping the story back to the basic facts and removing any negative emotion associated with it, we can start taking on the day proactively, with entrepreneurial curiosity and with confidence.
To help continue this work, I’ve developed a Creating Confidence toolkit. This FREE toolkit contains 3 of my favourite confidence-boosting activities to help kickstart your confidence in these uncertain times. Available to download when you subscribe to receive advice and tips from West End Coach here:
- ^ GOV.UK. 2020. Chancellor Outlines Winter Economy Plan. [online] Available at: Chancellor Outlines Winter Economy Plan [Accessed 28 September 2020].
- ^ Friedman, S., 2020. The Government Seems Brazenly Willing To Discard Britain’s Mental Health. [online] The Telegraph. Available at: Telegraph.co.uk/theatre [Accessed 29 September 2020].
- ^ Partington, R., 2020. What’s Missing From The Chancellor’s New Scheme To Save Jobs?. [online] the Guardian. Available at: What’s Missing from the Chancellor’s New Scheme [Accessed 29 September 2020].
- ^ Lexico Dictionaries | English. n.d. Self-Confidence | Definition Of Self-Confidence By Oxford Dictionary On Lexico.Com Also Meaning Of Self-Confidence. [online] Available at: Definition of Self-confidence [Accessed 30 September 2020].
- ^ Costandi, M., 2016. Neuroplasticity. MIT Press.
- ^ Dweck, C., 2016. What Having a “Growth Mindset” Actually Means. Harvard Business Review, [online] Available at: Having a Growth Mindset [Accessed 28 September 2020].
- ^ McGrath, R. and MacMillan, I., 2000. The Entrepreneurial Mindset. Boston: Harvard Business Review Press.
- ^ Evans, I., 2015. How and Why Thoughts Change: Foundations of Cognitive Psychotherapy. Oxford University Press.