Where is Your Confidence?
You’re killing it at work. Like, employee rock star status. Then, a new position opens up on your team and you’re thinking about applying. The job would be a promotion for you, so you decide to read through the responsibilities and requirements listed in the description of the position. As you do, you determine that you can meet about two-thirds of the requirements. Do you feel confident enough to apply?
The answer to that question confirms what we as women already instinctively know: We only feel confident when we’re perfect (or practically so). Even when we’re overqualified and well prepared, we still hold back, afraid that we’re not good enough.
Men, however, don’t approach jobs (or life, for that matter) the same way. Men don’t think twice about leaning in—even when they’re under qualified and not prepared.
See the split in confidence between men and women? And it’s not just prevalent in certain cultures or specific places of the world—it’s universal.
Hewlett-Packard (HP) ran into this several years ago. It was trying to figure out how to get more women into top management positions, so it conducted a review of personnel records. The review revealed that those men at HP who applied for promotions did so when they felt like they could meet about 60 percent of the requirements for the promotion. But women, on the other hand, only applied for the job when they were sure they could perform all of the qualifications in their entirety.
So how can we as women create a movement and start building self-confidence? It actually starts with two small steps that have very big results:
1. Believe You Are Confident
What is self-confidence? In a nutshell, it’s how you view yourself. It’s a feeling of trust in one’s abilities, qualities, and judgment. How to improve self-confidence is a dilemma most women have. Transforming how you think about yourself doesn’t happen overnight. Our reaction to thousands of moments in our lives have led us to view ourselves as inferior. But with effort over time, we can counter that embedded belief about ourselves and change how our brain operates in response to situations when we don’t feel self-confident.
Profound changes start with awareness. When you start asking yourself if your outfit makes you look fat, or when you question if the project you’re managing is good enough, stop that internal voice and acknowledge it’s not welcome today. Replace it with self-praise about your excellent taste in clothing and your project management skills.
So..believe you are good enough, not perfect, but good enough to handle the challenges that come your way on any given day.
Building Self-Confidence is Truly a Verb. It Requires Action!
2. Lean In
Building self-confidence is truly a verb. It requires action. And we can take that action before we feel we’re ready. In fact, that’s the most important time to take action if we want to improve self-confidence.
Does this mean that our lack of confidence might be holding us back? For example,studies have looked into how different men and women approach salary negotiations. The results? Women don’t lean in to ask for an increase in pay as often as men. And when they do ask, they ask for less than men do.
Studies like these suggest that success correlates as closely with confidence as it does with competence. Unfortunately, because women lack confidence in comparison to men, women don’t seek out the opportunities men do. This is evidenced by how women are still highly underrepresented at the upper management levels in the workforce.
But, with work, confidence can be acquired. By leaning in and attempting hard things, we gain confidence about our progress, what we learn through new experiences, and the things we accomplish—even if we don’t feel like the path to those accomplishments was perfect. This is important because, as a result, the confidence gap between women and men can be closed.
Creating the Movement
Creating a self-confidence movement among women starts with each individual woman. Self-confidence will empower more women to step forward, take more risks as men do, and address bias when it presents itself. The more women who move up the ladder (career or otherwise), the more mentors, inspiring examples, and role models there will be for the women seeking a path forward, too.
There’s no magic potion for increasing self-confidence. But nothing grows confidence more than stepping into the middle of the action, next to the men, even if our heart is racing. Start underestimating the risks and overestimating yourself. As Theodore Roosevelt said, the credit belongs to the man—and the woman—who is actually in the arena.
About the Author
Helena Rogers is the publisher of “The Savvy Woman Blog”. For more than 20 years, she has been committed to All things women. Through the use of her newspaper, websites, newsletters and workshops, Helena has been devoted to informing, inspiring and encouraging women. Because of her experiences as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, business woman, and volunteer, Helena is happy and excited to share practical and heartfelt information with you.
Helena has recently published “Don’t Forget Your Sunglasses”, a six-step guide to using vision boards to set goals and achieve your dreams.