“Why do you sound hesitant to take on this new role? You’re always so confident. I thought you’d be thrilled.”
There was a new position opening up and the HR person wanted me to apply. It seemed like such a natural next step, but I didn’t feel “ready.” She thought I was confident, but on some days…I wasn’t so sure.
That memory came to mind over the weekend as I was having a conversation with a woman who had recently been promoted. She said, “Most days I’m super excited about this new opportunity. Other days I wonder when they’re going to realize they hired the wrong person.” Isn’t it strange that in one way or another, even when we experience some measure of success, we can still struggle with confidence?
Of course we don’t really talk about. Some of us don’t even believe it, because we’ve been holding up our masks of self-assurance for so long. But in our quiet moments of reflection it’s the voice that lives inside our head that reveals the truth of what we believe. Over and over we ask ourselves the same questions…
Can I really do it? Am I enough? What if I fail? Am I really ready?
The good and bad news is you’re not alone. Not only have you and I struggled with those doubts, but it turns out a whole lot of our sisters have too.
A 2016 study from the University of California gives us some insight into its pervasiveness. More than 985,000 men and women across 48 nations were surveyed. They were asked to rate one simple phrase: “I see myself as someone who has high self-esteem.” Unilaterally, across every culture and country, men rated themselves higher, leading to findings that men were much more confident than women.
Ugh! Don’t you hate that? I’d be tempted to argue it’s not true but unfortunately I’ve seen what we call the “confidence gap” play out too many times in the workplace. When women feel less confident we’re more likely to…
– pass up applying for new positions unless we believe we’re completely qualified
– avoid taking strategic risks because we’re afraid to fail
– stay quiet when facing inappropriate behavior, such as harassment or discrimination
Men, however, are more likely to behave in an opposite fashion. They apply even when they think they’re about 50% qualified. They take risks, asking for forgiveness instead of permission. And as I’m sure you’ve encountered a time or two, they speak up – asserting their authority, often whether they have it or not.
When we lack confidence we play small, diminishing our executive presence and depriving others of the benefit of our wisdom and insight.
But there is a solution. Become a More Confident and Empowered You.
As I’ve taught leadership courses around the country I’ve met many women who struggle with these same issues. What I’ve discovered is that with coaching, skill building, and intentional daily actions they’ve been able to build their confidence, and become more effective leaders. It’s not always easy but it is possible, and absolutely rewarding.
In our year of CAN DO, I want to walk with you on this journey too. Why? Because I believe in you.
I find that it’s rarely a lack of capabilities that keeps us from pursuing more. In fact, most women I meet are wholly capable of doing the thing they fear, they just don’t believe it – and therein lies the problem for most of us. Fear has trapped us in a running loop of doubts inside our own head, and even the reality of our previous success cannot illuminate a clear path forward.We do what we do because we believe what we believe. Click To Tweet
But no more! We are smart, strong women who were created to lead in every aspect of our lives. Our journeys are different, but many of the leadership principles we need to succeed as confident, effective leaders are the same – whether it’s at work, at home, or in our communities.
To get us started I’ve included my 4 Tips to Become a More Confident and Empowered You. These are practical steps to put you on the path to building your confidence as you boost your competence.
Ladies if we truly want to address the important issues women face – such as equal pay, race and gender bias, the glass ceiling, and sexual harassment – we need more women leaders. Women like you who are visionary, courageous, and insightful can literally change the world. But in order to do so we’re going to have to build our confidence, be willing to take bold and strategic risks, and to stand up and speak out against injustice and discrimination.
It’s time to power up! We can do this together. Implement the tips below, and let’s get started on the journey.
Hugs and Love
PS – Be sure to add your suggestions to comments. Share what’s working for you.
4 Tips to Become a More Confident and Empowered You
Be Self-Aware – If you want to boost your confidence, you have to get to know and accept the real you – strengths, areas of challenge, and innate traits. When you understand who you are and how you’re mostly likely to respond when interacting with others, you can make conscious choices that enhance your executive presence and affirm your authority. If you’ve taken Myers-Briggs or DISC, pull it out and give it a quick review. If you haven’t ever taken the test click this link for a free version –> personality test. The key is to spend some time understanding your results, and how they apply to your communication and leadership style. Understanding who you really are will allow you to become the best version of you.
Boost Your Skills – Confidence is defined as your belief in your ability to succeed at a given task. What largely impacts that belief? Competence. When you spend time building your skills you are more likely to believe that you can succeed. However what I’ve noticed is when it comes to developing our leadership skills we don’t spend a lot of time educating ourselves. We think experience alone is enough, but the reality is we need education + experience + reflection to develop true competence. As a part of your personal development plan choose a core competency of leadership you want to develop and pursue a learning opportunity every year. If you want to build your confidence, invest in you!
Explore Outside Your Comfort Zone – It takes courage to go beyond the edge of what feels normal. Our heart races, we wonder if we can do it, and in some cases – if we’ll even survive. That’s why I encourage anyone who wants to build their confidence to explore life outside their comfort zone. I love adventure so for me that’s been sky diving, bungee jumping and a host of other physical activities that push me over the edge – literally. For others that might be having dinner alone, or taking yourself to the movies. The key is to challenge yourself to get comfortable being uncomfortable. Success begets success. The more you conquer, the more confident you’ll become.
Expand Your Sisterhood – Surround yourself with good girlfriends and mentors that bolster your courage and affirm your worth. Too often we have people in our inner circle who feed our fears, encouraging us to stay in what they perceive to be safe spaces. They often mean well, but their own lack of confidence limits their capacity to support our growth. Take an audit of the seven people you spend the most time with. Are they confident and courageous? Do they affirm your desire to aspire higher? If not, it may be time to make some adjustments to your inner circle. Be sure that those who can whisper in your ear are speaking positive words of encouragement for your journey.