Guest Post

Rebuilding Confidence

by Cameron Herold
12/14/2009

I've never been a good student. I've never felt smart and I've often felt like I have no idea what I'm really doing. I suspect that I must be doing something wrong otherwise how could it be so easy? My mind spins with thoughts of "How could someone that was always told by the education system they were a C or D student actually be smart enough to really teach CEOs how to grow companies?"

Something started to change for me about six years ago. I was already 38 years old, taking a course to learn better leadership skills, when I came across my "unique ability." I realized that I'm great at helping CEOs reverse engineer their dreams. As architects help homeowners turn their ideas into blueprints and get them built into homes, I help CEOs get their ideas out of their heads, and help them build the teams and systems to make their dreams happen. To me it feels easy. I wonder why anyone would pay me to do what feels so simple. I keep thinking I'd do it for free, but my kids like to eat and I like expensive toys, so I have to charge for it.

Once I learned what I was great at — my ability to help CEOs to realize their goals — I began eliminating everything else from my day-to-day. I began to focus on finding clients that fit me: young, fun, entrepreneurial, high viral, high growth, pre-public companies. My ideas resonate with them. They get huge value from my systems. And they feel like I'm cheap compared to putting someone with my skills and experience on a full-time pay roll.

The more time I spend in my "unique ability" coaching and mentoring CEOs and the teams running entrepreneurial companies, the more I feel I'm on my game. Malcolm Gladwell said a person needs at least 10,000 hours to be an expert. I've been coaching or building entrepreneurial companies for 60,000 hours (45,000 hours alone in the franchising space). No wonder I've more than maintained my nerve. My company is growing very fast and I'm helping great companies.

I realize now that the teachers and professors who told me I didn't know what I was doing had never built a company. They'd never taught great teams of people how to lead. They had, however unknowingly, destroyed my nerve and confidence for years upon years. Five years ago I started writing down the things I'd accomplished each week. Writing down my successes like this helped re-build my confidence. Now companies that I helped build and lead are case studies, documented in textbooks and studied at MBA programs around the USA and Canada. And last year I was the highest rated lecturer at MIT's Entrepreneurial Masters Program.

It wasn't easy but I have definitely got my nerve back. I often turn to a quote of Theodore Roosevelt, from 1910:
"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement."

Cameron Herold is the Founder of BackPocket COO, a company whose DVDs are used globally by entrepreneurial companies. He also mentors CEOs in five countries.

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