It’s very common to, at some point, lack self-confidence. According to Katty Kay, The Confidence Code, it only takes two years in the workplace for women to be faced with a lack of confidence. And it’s an interesting phenomena that highly competent women often can’t see their own brilliance (women far more than men). This lack of self-confidence holds us back – through inaction, hesitation, indecision, missed opportunities, staying in place longer, diminished visibility, slower promotions and career growth, regret, disappointment, deferred dreams, and playing small.
The great news; confidence is a skill that can be learned and practiced. Evidence shows that women are less self-assured than men – and that to succeed, confidence matters as much as competence. In studies, men overestimate their abilities and performance, while women underestimate both. Interestingly enough, their performances do not differ in quality.
In study after study, the data confirm what we instinctively know; underqualified and underprepared men don’t think twice about leaning in. Over qualified and overprepared, too many women still hold back. Women feel confident only when they are perfect – or practically perfect.
• Ever downplayed your strengths?
• Used negative self-talk, listened to your own inner critic (saboteurs), or compared yourself to others?
• Diminished your skills and experience? (‘if it’s easy for me, it must be easy for everyone’)
• Experienced imposter mindset/syndrome? (‘I was just lucky, or in the right place at the right time, they’re going to find out I’m a fraud’)
• Waited to take risks until you are over-qualified
• Taken personal blame rather than acknowledging the external obstacles (‘it’s my fault, I should have known better’)
• Chosen to be “likeable” if you think your confidence might receive a negative response (‘I don’t want to come across as too assertive or pushy’)
Recognizing that your power and your confidence come from authentically claiming, sharing, and promoting your strengths, expertise, and values fills this confidence gap. I encourage you to embrace the paradox that you can be both strong AND vulnerable, capable AND still growing. You do not need to be perfect. So consider the cost of continuing to play small. What becomes possible when you communicate confidence?
For those who are interested, here’s a great video on the subject:
Katty Kay: The Confidence Code – Stop Trying to be Perfect – Bing video