For a perfectionist who’s extremely insecure about my ideas, it’s a wonder I’ve been able to publish weekly blogs without collapsing under my own pressure.
In order to gain some insight into how to come up with good ideas—and how to make sure they’re actually good—I attended Entrepreneurship 100: Conversations, a live, interactive panel hosted by the Impact Centre in collaboration with the Career Centre. The panel featured three University of Toronto-affiliated entrepreneurs and centred on discussing where ideas come from, and how to tell if they’re any good. The audience could participate in the discussion through text, take part in polls, and ask the panelists questions. The entrepreneurs answered the audience’s questions and spoke about their experiences throughout their careers.
When polled about how confident the audience was about their ideas, the results were split; some participants felt confident about their ideas, while others did not. I felt a moment of relief when I realized others felt just as paralyzed as I do sometimes, but that quickly faded when I remember the other half of participants didn’t experience the same insecurity. Being in the same room as a panel of professional and successful entrepreneurs also didn’t help.
The conversation then switched over to how the entrepreneurs get their ideas, which kept my mind from further wallowing in insecurity. According to the panelists, most of their ideas came from a need—whether it was someone else, a group of people, or themselves. In order to validate their ideas, the entrepreneurs spoke to potential buyers, experts in the industry, professors, and friends and colleagues. It was emphasised that friends and family can be unreliable reviewers, which is why it’s important to get out there and talk to different people.
Next, participants were polled about what’s holding them back from being an entrepreneur, which got me contemplating my own insecurity again. Almost a quarter of participants said a fear of failure is holding them back from being an entrepreneur. As someone who’s no stranger to insecurity sometimes, I also get wrapped up in feelings of imposter syndrome and a fear of failure. Sometimes, these feelings have been so strong that I almost didn’t go after a certain job or position.
Despite my fear of failure, I still applied for these positions because the worst thing that could happen is a rejection, which would automatically happen if I never applied. In the end, my fear of automatically failing was greater than my fear of trying and failing.
Feeling confident about yourself and your career is a process. Although it seemed like the entrepreneurs seated at the front of the stage magically found confidence and success overnight, I’m sure it was a journey of good ideas and bad ideas and exploring different career paths. I’ve learned that being confident and being insecure aren’t permanent, fixed states. At the start of the event, I was busying worrying about whether my ideas were good. And by the end, I remembered how I had overcome my fear of failure in the past, and suddenly didn’t feel quite as insecure. But as I strengthen my skills, further my education, and explore different career paths, I hope my confident days will start to outnumber my insecure ones.
The next Entrepreneurship 101 conversation will take place on Thursday, December 1 at 6 pm. You can register here!