Confident Women: Jade Read

Jade Read is a portrait photographer on the Gold Coast, Qld, specialising in maternity, newborn and children’s portraits.  She is madly in love with her husband and her three boys, and is a work-from-home mum. Because she has so much spare time these days (!!), she has also launched a pregnancy and baby expo on the Gold Coast, and has a billion and one other big dreams, long-term plans and goals to achieve.

jadereadheadshotWhat does confidence mean to you?

Confidence is action. It is the ultimate form of self-expression. It is when you are able to feel free, unrestricted, move forward and be pro-active about you, your life, your business, anything really. Confidence isn’t about having no fear, but trusting in yourself, and continuing on in the face of fear. Confidence is about trusting yourself more than fearing the unknown.  It is being able to shift from ‘fear’ to ‘trust’ in front of seemingly insurmountable challenges and taking that first step towards it. Confidence is feeling proud of who I am and what I do, and being pro-active about reaching my aspirations and dreams.

Where did you learn how to be confident, or how are you learning now?

I don’t know where I ‘learned’ it. But I think confidence is like a muscle – the more you use it, the stronger it gets.  I have spent 5 years working in and on my own portrait photography business and have now branched into Expo Management, and it’s been a very slow, tough 5 years juggling kids, miscarriage and business without any real know-how.

I believe that my confidence has come from self-awareness, and you can’t get any more self-aware about yourself, then when you run your own business!  Everything I have learned about business, has mostly been about me.

Every decision I make, every challenge I face – isn’t necessarily about the challenge itself, but by how I take it on, cope with the struggle, and how persistent and adamant I am about overcoming and succeeding.

Success is falling down 10 times, no matter how far you fall, and then getting up that 11th time and finding a way back up. Failure isn’t the fall. To me, the failure is what you do afterwards.  The fall is simply the challenge, the roadblock, the test.

So, if confidence is a muscle, with each fall, and each time you get back up, you’ve just ‘worked out’ in confidence.  So, the more you fall, the more chances you have to ‘workout’ – practice confident habits, workout the confidence muscles and get stronger in those qualities.  The ‘strongest’ or ‘most confident’ people you know, have probably fallen the most and found another way to get up again and keep walking.

With this kind of thought process on confidence, I guess I have learnt by ‘trial and error’ how to be confident, and by now, after 5 years and countless falls, I think my confidence is strong enough that I can get up much quicker than 5 years ago, and keep working.

I’ve also noticed this last year has seen a shift in how I view my ‘falls’.  I no longer take them so personally.  Yes, I’ve made the mistakes, poorly executed plans or strategies, or failed to plan some things at all.  Those mistakes are my responsibility, but having spent years ‘working out’ my confidence, I now actually approach my challenges with a much more objective view these days.

And, I think that has just been a natural progression of practice, years of falling, and I do believe that those years of experience have also taught me a great many lessons in business and marketing (my biggest weakness – currently my focus right now) which has also helped to shift my emotional response to challenges into a more objective response.

What do you think makes it difficult for women to love themselves and own who they are?

Social media, mainstream media and advertising/marketing industry – particularly in the beauty/fashion industries.  So much of what is out there encourages competition, winning, ‘keeping up with the Joneses’, being the best, earning the most, having the highest paying clients, blah blah blah.

Jealousy and comparison are the two biggest threats to loving ourselves and owning our own confidence in ourselves.

Women need to boycott fashion magazines, stop following celebrity drama and lifestyles.  We need to focus more on our own selves.  Self-awareness and self-love are difficult concepts for women, particularly mothers, as we often feel guilty, greedy and selfish.

What challenges do you face that dampens your confidence levels?

Comparison and jealousy – the killers of confidence and creativity.  Seeing peers in my industry running a stronger business than me.  Seeing the strengths in others that I know are my weaknesses.  Those are the times that I feel the negativity, jealousy and comparisons roll through as negative statements through my head.

“She’s better than me at …..”  “Why can’t I do ……. like her?”    “How come she’s earning more than me?”

It seems a natural ‘default’ to sometimes view those ahead of us, seemingly doing better than us, as competition rather than aspiration. It’s our lack-of-confidence talking when we doubt that we can make it to where they are.  Seeing someone else doing well when we are not, can often bring feelings of self-doubt and low esteem. Particularly if we are not being pro-active in seeking and striving for our own goals.

Who is the most confident person in your life and what qualities do they have?

Oh geez! My aunt (she brought me up as her daughter with her other three children).

You couldn’t find a more steadfast, stubborn and passionate woman on earth!  She is a powerhouse for the pro-life movement and seems to be able to live on 2 hrs sleep, a few coffees and her passion for the cause. Permanently.

She demonstrates incredible tenacity, fierce determination and a ‘never-stop-never-quit-never-sleep’ attitude every day.  Her eye is firmly fixed on her goal at all times and her focus never strays from the end-game.

I’ve never seen her display any signs of self-doubt or insecurity and I believe her convictions rise above all adversity.

When do you feel your most confident, powerful or beautiful?

I am most confident in my comfort zone, in my element.  Knowledge is power and I’m confident when surrounded by people who are supportive of my dreams, my goals and (astronomical) ambitions.

I feel most powerful during a workout. Not every workout, just those days when you’re on fire, fuelled by good, healthy food choices, operating at peek energy and performance – Just smashing and owning that workout!

I feel most beautiful when I am hugging my children, my husband or a loved one.  I suppose I don’t ‘see’ beautiful in a dress or makeup – yes, I like these things and they do give me a sense of beauty – but I FEEL most beautiful in tender moments of love, affection, generosity and giving.

Do you have any quick confidence tips when you want to boost your self-esteem?

Here’s my top tip:  Counter a negative thought pattern with a new, positive one to take it’s place.

If I’ve come up against a negative thought pattern, I acknowledge it (“yes, I AM feeling crappy that she’s better than me”) and then I counter it with a short sentence about myself that is true about me and opposes the negative thought.

e.g.  “Why is she a better photographer then me? Why can’t I take photos like that?”   I will stop, note that I am speaking from a place of jealousy and counter that thought with a new one.  Something I know is true about my work.  “My work, my photographs and my experience are above industry average.”

Then, armed with my new mantra, I will repeat it, out loud to myself, over and over and over again. Talking to the wind, the universe, whatever.  Keep saying it! I repeat it out loud until it moves me to my core. This usually ends with tears on my face. Then I know I’ve cemented that shift in thinking and can move forward.

Sometimes I need to start in a whisper, or even just mouth it without sound. But, continue to say it louder, stronger, firmer, until you believe it in your soul. I usually spend a minute or two on a mantra. Sometimes it doesn’t take long to shift the focus back to positivity.

It won’t work just saying it in your head. You have to speak it out loud!

Is there anything else you would like to share or advice for other women who may be struggling with their own confidence and self-worth?

Choose one area of your weaknesses (let’s face it, we all know our weaknesses, often better than our strengths.) Pick one, a small one, and pro-actively take steps to turn it into a strength.  Plan it, write what you will do in a diary, journal, and post it on your mirror to read every morning. (Sometimes I shift mine to the fridge, or on my computer to ensure I read it every day).

And, choose one of your strengths – yes, find one and write it down!  Read it every day.  Cement some core beliefs of your strengths to draw on when you feel low.

“Confidence doesn’t come when you have all the answers.   It comes when you are ready to face the questions.”

Thank you Jade!

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  1. This is wonderful advice, Jade. As a photographer with a young business it’s been such a massive learning curve and struggle and finding confidence in what I do has been my biggest challenge. Comparison is definitely a killer, and something I’ve been making a conscious effort to get a hold of and stop. I think something that is also important is to find people within our sphere of business or whatever that we admire and look up to, that can help us become better at what we do. I’m going to be working with a mentor next year and already I’m feeling a thousand times better for the support and encouragement I’ve been getting from someone I look up to and who has been there and done that and can help me work out how to get where I want to be.

  2. I love the idea that confidence is a muscle and you just need to “work out” more and that the fall is the challenge, not the failure itself. Thanks Jess and Jade for such an enlightening and inspiring read.

    1. Jess

      Yes! It is not just a natural occurrence that comes easily.

    1. Jess

      Yes me too, it reminds me that practice is so important.

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