Hi, my name is Oksana, and I hate motivational speeches. Why? Because I saw lots of those people who “motivated” others all the time without doing the “real job.” So I had this devaluation of “motivational currency.”
But there is one thing which recently made me change my opinion. Sometimes you need to share your stories and conclusions to make others learn and grow faster. That is why my last speech was a bit unusual and motivational (this was a challenge to me) — I wanted to tell the attendees at the Women Tech Makers conference in Lviv the thing is that to achieve something, they need to believe in themselves — and obviously, I made one of those motivational speeches.
This is the thing I want to tell you with this article as well, and it does not mean whether you are male or female — I think the things I am writing here are appropriate for both sexes.
Think of the last time you needed to take some action, and you thought, “I am not good enough,” or “I cannot do this,” or “others are better,” and “this is too much responsibility.” Then, in some time, you understood that the task was not that scary, and you can quickly have done that, but you missed the opportunity.
This disbelief in ourselves has a significant impact on our lives and careers, and, moreover, on our self-esteem — one defeat leads to another one and then another. And we don`t shoot (afraid to shoot) for the stars anymore.
I had plenty of such situations in my life (aka talking about my failures here):
First, I did not apply to the MBA 5 years ago because I thought I was not good enough — and my friends did, finished, and now they are working in world-class companies.
Second, I did not start my business 7 years ago because I was scared of the fact that a student will start a business (and now it is normal) — and some of the people I know started, explored new niches and now work on what they love.
Third, I did not apply to the university abroad to study for the Bachelor’s. At those times, 10 years ago, it was super unusual, and I did not even see on my life radar this type of opportunity.
Literally, I missed tons of opportunities in my life because of disbelief in myself.
But there is another side of the story.
1. I entered one of the best universities in Ukraine.
2. I made lots of awesome friends there and in the other spheres of my life.
3. I applied and won lots of programs abroad.
4. 4 years ago, I started my business, and now I am building a career in an excellent organization. I see how I can change the world and create one of the best Product Teams in the world (yes, we can!).
The thing is that yes, we miss a lot because of our disbelief in ourselves. However, my point is that you can literally train your belief in yourself. It seems super easy to say, “Yes, you can?” but super hard to do this, yeah? And here, I will share the recipe which works for me (and probably will work for you too).
So, this recipe for strengthening your belief in yourself has only 5 ingredients.
Ingredient #1 | BUILD YOUR RISK MUSCLE
To shoot for the stars and to pursue the life you want to you need to risk. Sometimes a lot and if you are not prepared — then there is a high probability that you won`t risk at the moment you need.
Sounds easy? Not that easy if you need to turn it into the habit.
Recall the last time you were to do something new and did it?
Tried the first parachute jump or 180 degrees snowboard turn, or ask for the salary raise because you deserved it? Or probably you had a super crucial public speech or speech in front of your top management or in the board of directors room?
Stressful? Yes. Lots of responsibility? You say! What did you feel at that moment? Confidence? No. Fear. Your body was over flooded with cortisol; you were scared almost to death, and the adrenaline was tipping in your brain and soul. But then you made the first step, said the first word, and the scaring feeling has gone away. Congrats, your brain started forming new connections, and you are one step forward of dealing with uncomfortable situations and risking more in the future.
Day to day, I try to take on more, try to push myself out of the comfort zone, and take risks regularly.
4 years ago, I left the job of chief marketing officer (aka do everything-it-is-needed) in a startup. The startup moved to the UAE — it was not my country, so we did not cross the roads. I was living in Kyiv, looking for a new challenge, preferably a business analyst and project manager in Lviv. And I met an acquaintance on the street and told her this on her question. Then she reached me in a week and said that the company she knows is looking for such a professional in Lviv. Wow, I thought. But the thing is after we had all the interviews and I asked them for the contract — they said they cannot send me that one. Because they did not have the procedure for that at that time. There was a choice for me: either to stay in Kyiv and the option to wait for the perfect job or to risk and trust those people and get to Lviv. Finally, I landed here. For already 4 years and career I wanted. With the higher challenges I wanted.
Only now had I understood that with that adventurous agreement to come here, I trained my “out of the comfort zone” muscle, which helped me a lot for the last 4 years.
The lesson is that you don’t need to relocate to another city/country to push yourself out of the comfort zone — try to take on small risks and train your “risk muscle” — this will open you lots of opportunities.
Ingredient #2 | FIND YOUR TRIBE
TThe next thing to believing in yourself is the support of your surroundings and your friends. When you are searching for your path or taking on more risks — not everyone will understand you. Moreover, lots of people will blame you, will tell you that you are not healthy (why should you be, by the way)? That is why you need to find your tribe — people who have the same beliefs as you do and who will support you even when everyone around will thinks you are crazy.
My tribe is my power. And I have several of the tribes.
One — my co-founders who are thus, younger than I am, but far smarter and they are continually challenging me with those uncomfortable questions like: “It is enough for you?” “Do you want to pursue this?” “Why?”. The last time they helped me to get the new challenge — because they were
And there is a tribe of young top-managers and C-levels and mothers with whom I learn how to deal with super complex tasks. They are teaching me by example. Yes, I was lucky to find the ones, you will be too — start looking. We have a tradition once or twice in several months to meet for dinner and discuss everything around and to give a fresh view of the work and life situations.
The answer is in people who surround you — find your tribe or inspiration. Find either a company or a mentor. I have my tribe, where I can discuss all the problems at my work or personal ones. These girls have seen a lot, and I believe them. Also, in case you don`t have the person to be a mentor for you — read books, bios and find lessons and answers there. Some of the best books for me are:
- Give and take by Adam Grant
- Mindset by Carol Dweck
- Grit by Angela Duckworth
- Good to great by Jim Collins and far more — find me on Goodreads)
So, find your tribe. If not — then mentor. If not mentor — then read books.
Ingredient #3 | FIND YOUR WAY OF RETREAT
Remember the days you were broke? You were out of energy and did not have power even to move. Nothing inspired you, and everyone betrayed — your family, work, and beloved ones? In these hard times, you need to find your inspiration. You need to switch your attention and meditate to get full of energy.
Did you know that Michelle Obama is a runner?
Angelina Jolie collects old things?
Oprah Winfrey reads a lot?
Nikole Kidman is a gardener?
Meryl Strip is a knitter and far more.
What is your hobby? How do you switch?
Mine are: driving a car in the mountains, reading, and being alone in a non-usual place.
When you know how to manage your energy and how to restore it — you will be more productive and happy. And happy people tend to believe in themselves.
So you know how not to burn out? But sometimes people around make you feel burned out. That is why I am talking about my 4-th ingredient for belief in yourself:
Ingredient #4 | DON`T BELIEVE ANYONE EXCEPT PEOPLE YOU WANT TO FOLLOW
I like the phrase — then you start to excel people start to spread shit. Remember this.
Not that many people will love watching you grow. We usually don’t have the culture of cultivating others — you need to have “balls” to see how others are growing, and you don`t. That means that their thought will be biased. And what they tell you may hurt. Words are a super powerful tool to kill or to raise. Select what you hear and filter from who you understand this.
All others are usually experts in:
- your career
- how to raise your children
- which guy/girl to marry
- how to spend your money
- your choice
Listen only to those people you admire, and you are inspired by. For others — be kind and try not to get angry or distracted by their comments.
Ingredient #5 | WORK HARD
You need to be ready to work hard because nothing has a payoff.
All the women I know who are on the top — they were working a lot. They sacrificed lots of things to deliver on what they committed.
Marissa Mayer had 130 hrs. workweeks.
Oprah Winfrey is a media mogul and well-known hard worker.
The thing is that you don`t need to work 130 hrs like Marissa, but be prepared to work hard in the field you choose — wither it will be parenting, or work, or relationships or all together.
When I started my job as a BA and Project manager, I was working a lot. Even 24/7. Literally. Now I know that if I need to achieve something — then I can do this.
Everything I mentioned above is a super easy and vivid thing we tend to forget. But in complex, those form the basis for your belief in yourself and a foundation to jumpstart your next career.
So, my recipe to increase our belief in ourselves is simple:
1. Form the risk muscle and get out of the comfort zone. Small steps — big steaks and breathtaking life. Learn by doing!
2. Find your tribe — people who will support you and will always remind you that yes, you can! If you cannot find the tribe — find mentors or read books!
3. Know your way of retreat — find your inspiration in some hobby to escape in the case of despair.
4. Don`t believe anyone`s opinion except people who you are inspired by or you admire. Everyone else is noise.
5. Be ready to work hard, but celebrate your achievements — to understand that yes, you did it!
Here is the ad I love and which shows that we can achieve almost anything we want, but we need to dream crazier. This is the video about ourselves.
The thing I am writing this post is to tell you one more time that it is not the question if you can or no, the question is if your dreams are crazy enough? Because yes, you can!
End of story.