Regardless of whether you're an entrepreneur, employed or a student, as a young person with less experience than your peers, you'll be familiar with situations where you feel intimidated by authority figures and unworthy of your youthful opinion. Fear can stop us from speaking up and sharing our ideas to avoid making a mistake or sounding stupid.
This was a big deal for me a few years ago and it nearly prevented me from embracing a life changing opportunity where my daily work would revolve around the value of my ideas, working with clients who are very successful, highly intelligent, super qualified, wealthy people who run a business empire with thousands of employees.
What held me back was questioning why these people would take any notice of a 23 year old with little business experience and hardly any qualifications. I raised this concern with my business partner Trudy who has decades of business experience and her reply surprised me. I was expecting the solution to my lack of experience would be to send me on numerous courses to gain qualifications or suggest I took a minor, back seat role in the business.
Instead Trudy told me to simply focus on approaching the situation with a calm and confident manner and when I am listening to clients to expect that I can add something fresh and innovative. What she warned me to avoid doing was either coming across like the media portrays young entrepreneurs on business programmes such as The Apprentice, over confident and bolshy or going in the other direction staying quiet and shying away from sharing my opinions.
To find the middle ground, I learnt to ask good questions if I am not sure of my thoughts. By doing this, I would get a better idea of what answers my client is seeking before I commit to telling them my idea. I found it really helpful to read tips by communication expert Andy Bounds, this is a great article on asking good questions.
All it took to get the balance right and have a solid, true certainty within me was little more than making the decision to feel calm and confident and refocusing myself when I felt my fear rising. Once I got past my lack of belief, I discovered why Trudy valued my opinion and wanted me to work with her in our coaching business because our corporate clients were coming to us with issues that could only be solved with fresh thinking and innovative ideas - my naivety turned out to be really valuable, especially when clients had too many layers of bureaucracy in the way to reach a simple solution!
So next time you find yourself in a situation where you feel out of your depth but you still want people to listen to your ideas, compose yourself in a calm, confident manner and ask good questions focusing on where you can add value with your fresh perspective.