I know I talk often about Creativity being the most important asset to today’s entrepreneur… but there is a close second in uncertain times, and that is Confidence. Dan Sullivan of Strategic Coach factors confidence into virtually all of his tools, and strategies, that he shares. It is obvious why it is important, but can be very elusive during challenges.

We tend to get confidence from successes, and have our confidence rattled during setbacks.

It is kind of like a bank account with a running tab, and there is always an ebb and flow to the account. Eventually it becomes second nature, and “fake it til you make it” is a common approach! But what do you do when you have had success, you can muster confidence almost all the time, you are past the uncertainty of early days, and your confidence wanes?It may be from fatigue, or a run of bad luck, or someone you trusted disappointing you, but it is inevitable for almost all of us, at some point, to have our confidence dinged. It may not be a major hit, but it can certainly be distracting, and in bad situations, can compound on itself to the point it is a major hit.

When it happens to me I like to make things really simple.

Block out distractions and get back to basics.

I then like to string together small wins… tiny deposits in the confidence bank account will normally get me back on track. It is not that those wins replenish the entire account, but rather they remind me what it feels like to have a win. And then two, and then many… and muscle memory kicks in and confidence starts to rebuild. Often I will look back at this point and laugh at myself for why it was waning in the first place.

There is a saying in professional poker, when a pro is on a bad streak, and “chasing” their losses, they are “on tilt”. One of the early online poker sites was literally called Full Tilt Poker, in recognition of this saying. When a player is “on tilt” they tend to make sub-optimal decisions, creating more angst and a downward spiral that can be hard to recover. I feel like the same can happen in business, especially during a period where things beyond our control are adding up to losses.

The ability to recognize being “on tilt”, and having an automatic strategy to get out of the mindset, is critical. In poker it can be the discipline to fold all but the best hands for a while, or put a limit on the amount you will bet for a few hands. In the entrepreneurial journey it can be getting back to basics. Maybe writing down the things you know you are best at, and finding small wins that match up to what you are best at in the short run.

Whatever you do, have a plan, recognize when you are “chasing” bad ideas with more bad ideas, and get back to basics to build your confidence again… By the way, in full transparency, I am writing this to remind myself what I should be doing right now!!!


Founder of the align5 Companies,  CEO of Scaling Up Coaches, and Serial Entrepreneur

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