As part of my Lean In Circle, one of my fellow members challenged us all to read an article on confidence, and take a quiz. This was perfectly fitting, as the topic of self-doubt has crept into every one of our conversations since we began meeting earlier this year. Before meeting my group, and reading the assigned article, I never realized how big of an issue the lack of confidence among women in our generation was. I often-times felt undeserving of my accomplishments, and sometimes even like a fraud in my career. I believed these things to be true, that I was lucky to be in my position and to have had the opportunities that I did, and worst of all, I truly felt alone in this.
However, I now realize that self-doubt is a popular trend, especially among women. Whether due to nurture, nature, or a combination of the two, we are continuously selling ourselves short when it comes to our abilities, talents, and the achievements we receive as a result. In their article, The Confidence Gap, Katty Kay and Claire Shipman reference a study by Hewlett Packard, which shows that on average, men will apply for a job when they meet 60 percent of the qualifications, compared to women, who do not apply unless they meet 100 percent. This contrast is astonishing. And this is just one among an innumerable amount of studies and statistics about the lack of confidence in the female population.
Two main things really shocked me in reading this article, Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, as well as the referenced studies. Firstly, how women continuously short-sell themselves, even in situations where they are more competent and experienced in comparison to their male counterparts. And secondly, how merely exuding confidence, whether or not you are truly competent in a subject, has an enormous impact on one’s credibility and perceived superiority. Being confident and exuding confidence go hand-in-hand, and are critical to success in career and life. Here are a few tips to get you started on accomplishing both:
Three Ways to Improve Confidence:
1. Remember, you are not alone. Study after study shows, most women, in every step of their journey is also unsure, intimidated, and feeling the same way as you.
2. Find a running mate. Find a group (I love my Lean In Circle) of women to talk to about your insecurities, you’d be surprised at how just bouncing your worries off of a listening ear can diminish them in so many ways.
3. Focus on the positives. The worst thing anyone can say is ‘no, or ‘you’re wrong.’ Think about the best-case scenario, and focus on your strengths instead of talking yourself out of things.
Three ways to Exude Confidence:
1. Act. Apply for that job that you don’t think you’re qualified for, sign up for that challenge that you wouldn’t normally compete in, and get outside your comfort zone.
2. Speak. Speak up in meetings, and for what you believe in. Ask for that raise or promotion, even when you aren’t 100% sure, because odds are you deserve it and are selling yourself short.
3. Try. “Fear killed more dreams than failure ever did.” How can you win the game if you don’t even play? Give yourself a chance.
Click here to take the confidence quiz I mentioned above, and to get some insight on your own level of confidence, and additional ways to conquer your insecurities. Then contact me for a personalized review and action plan!