As a new attorney, I entered the courtroom for the first time terrified. The judge who would hear my case was Chief Judge Frank Kaufman of the US District Court for the District of Maryland. He was known as a no nonsense judge with no patience for green attorneys.
I tried everything to relax, and despite how prepared I was, I was still convinced I'd do a terrible job. And I was right. I nearly imploded in the middle of the trial. It was so bad that the opposing counsel never objected to my crazy questions. But what surprised me most was Chief Judge Kaufman's response. When I asked a nonsensical question, he leaned over the bench and said, "Ms. Coles, perhaps if you ask the question this way, the witness will answer you." Or, "Ms. Coles, why don't you ask this question, see if that works."
I felt so inept, but I kept going, pretending that everything was going just as it should. I managed to get through it and my colleagues took me out to lunch afterward, each one telling me the awful story of their first time alone in court with a client's well being hanging in the balance. Nearly every time I present at a conference or speak publicly, that experience empowers me. I know that, no matter how terrified I am, I can deliver my message with confidence and self assurance.
If lack of confidence is stopping you from doing something vital to your business, remember first that the only way to gain confidence is to just take a deep breath and put yourself out there. And second, there will always be someone, even a most unlikely someone, to help you if they see that you are pulling your weight and trying to do your best.
Question: Have you ever followed a project through to completion, even though you were scared to death, and come out on the other side with more confidence to tackle the next challenge? Share your experiences in the comments section below so we can all benefit and be encouraged.