Do you ever look at cake pictures and think, “I’ll never be that good!”?
Or, do you ever read about those businesspeople who appear to ‘have it all’ and think, “There’s no way I could manage doing all of that!”?
Or, does it seem like you’re working your butt off in your business and getting nowhere, while someone else doesn’t appear to be working as hard but they also appear to be raking in the dough?
This is a highly competetive industry with a lot of really talented people in it. I am not at all surprised that we sometimes feel inadequate or that lack of confidence is the main reason we do not pursue our dreams. It can be hard to look at your cake and compare it to someone else’s – regardless of if that someone else being a cake god* or just your nearest competitor. It becomes even harder when you’ve got a good idea but a lack of confidence keeps you from executing the idea…and then a short while later someone else announces that very same idea to great fanfare. You then of course spend ages beating yourself up about not coming out with that idea when you had it, and then also feeling proprietry about it, “But it was MY idea! I was there first!”
Oh, how I wish I could bottle up confidence and sell it to you all, or be a bit like the Wizard of Oz, and hand you all a big fat stack of medals and that would be enough to give you courage. Sadly, that’s not an option, so instead here are a couple of things which help me every time I think I’ll never measure up:
1. I remember that appearances are just that. Appearances. You never truly know what is going on underneath the surface. We don’t know how hard someone is really working, how much they are sacrificing, how much money they borrowed, what their relationship is like. Any of us who have been shocked by “the perfect couple” getting a divorce knows that the only person who knows what’s happening…is the person themselves. Don’t focus too much on what “everyone else” has, because remember that they are simply showing you what they CHOOSE to show you. I can’t tell you how many times friends would call me and say, “I’m so jealous, your business is doing AMAZINGLY!” because of what I’d posted on Facebook, when in truth I was wondering where the hell the money for the rent was going to come from.
2. Encourage one another. One of the best ways to make yourself feel better is just to do a kindness for someone else. So next time you see a picture someone else has uploaded and you think, “Oh my god, that’s a total train wreck!” instead I want you to comment with something good about it, or a nice and polite suggestion for how they might improve. We ALL started somewhere and the best way to get kindness is simply to give kindness. Just like we don’t know the truth behind the people we admire, nor do we know the truth behind the people whose creations we think are terrible. You have no idea if they spent all night on that or not, or if because they have arthritis they can’t physically roll out that fondant any thinner.
If you want to do that right now, go and read any of the Real Stories I feature and leave a comment.
3. Be brave, or as I like to say, “Feel the fear and do it anyway!” so post that photo, make that offer to your clients, jump in and have a conversation with your hero, try that new technique. Just take a big fat deep breath and DO stuff. And while I think 3 cliches is too many for any one blog post, I’m going to add one more: You will LOSE 100% of all the races you don’t enter. And I know (because you take the time to read this blog) you are many things but you are not a loser. NOT. So get your butt out there and get stuff done, in as many baby steps as you need. Post just one picture. Ask just one question. Email just one person. JUST.DO.IT. (and there’s another cliche. Sorry.) Believe me when I say that the more you do something the easier it gets to do it…and anyone at all who has made a sugar flower knows that the first one is ugly as sin, the 50th one is damn near perfect.
4. Print this post out somewhere and either stick it up on a wall, or fold it and put it in your handbag and re-read it when your confidence it at an all time low. WHY? Because I want it to serve as a reminder that you are not the only one out there feeling this way. You are not alone. Anyone working in a creative industry struggles with self-doubt, lack of confidence, feeling inadequate. Some super well known cake people will email me with, “I’ve got this idea. Do you think it’s okay?” – and guess what, I send those same emails ALL the time. I look for reassurance from friends both in and out of this industry because I’m human and I too want someone to look me in the eye and say, “You’re good enough, and what’s more, you’re getting even better.” It’s totally okay to feel that way (because we all do), I’m just here to tell you that those feelings cannot paralyse you. You are not alone.
5. Go visit Cake Wrecks. Have a bit of a giggle at those disasters, and then look at a Sunday Sweets post as well and be inspired. You’re doing this for three reasons. First, because sometimes it’s nice to take a step back from our own crazy and have a bit of a giggle. Second, it reminds you that everyone starts somewhere, and everyone makes mistakes. Third, because instead of looking at pictures and being intimidated by them, you’re better off being inspired by them. Don’t think about not measuring up, think about aspiring to be like the people you admire and realising that they started somewhere too. One of the main reasons I ask the people in the Real Stories series to include a picture of their own cake is to inspire you all. Here’s a secret I’m going to let you in on. I ask them to do it because I know they are going to go and read the post about themselves. I know they’re going to cringe at that photo. I also know they’re going to scroll down and see how far they’ve come and in that moment, the pride is going to outweigh the embarassment. I do it to inspire the very people who are in those interviews in the first place.
If Cake Wrecks isn’t your thing, go pull out the photo of the first cake you made. Smile, laugh, shake your head and go, “How could I have ever thought that was any good?!” and then go look at the cake you finished last week. Maybe you thought last week’s one wasn’t any good either, but I’m willing to bet it looks a heck of a lot better than that first one.
6. I wanted to end this post with, “And stop caring what other people think,” but that’s not great advice, because I actually DO want you to care what people think. The only difference is, the only people I want you to care about their opionion is YOUR CLIENTS. Not other cake decorators, not your Mother, not the cheap cake lady down the road. You’re in business to serve yourself and serve your clients, and those are the only people whose opinions matter. If your opinions are more about beating yourself up than lifting yourself up, then I want you to return to #4 and re-read it.
Don’t be be intimidated. Be inspired.