Fear & Other Tough Stuff: confidence

In a good book the best is between the lines. –Swedish Proverb

On my nightstand: Confidence is the stuff that turns thought into actionHere’s what I’m currently reading—

Most women can easily recite areas in their lives where they wish they felt more confident.

I hear it all the time.  I wish I were confident enough to…

  • ask for a promotion
  • change careers
  • set better boundaries
  • join the company softball team
  • take a swim class
  • launch my own business
  • have a crucial conversation 
  • ask him out
  • volunteer to give the presentation

If any of those gaps in confidence resonate, pick up a copy of The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance—What Women Should Know.

Confidence. We want it. We need it. But it can be maddeningly enigmatic and out of reach. Is confidence hardwired into the DNA of a lucky few—or can anyone learn it? Why do so many women, even the most successful, struggle with feelings of self-doubt? Is there a secret to channeling our inner confidence?

According to authors Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, confidence is the stuff that turns thoughts into action.

Without confidence, then, there’s a whole lot of thinking and not much action.

And that’s too bad because a lack of confidence keeps us in the shallow end of the pool instead of the deep end of life where there’s more—more opportunity, more growth, more experiences, more success, more money… Where there’s more of US because we get to fully show up.

Competence alone isn’t enough

Confidence is crucial in life. In fact, it’s every bit as important as competence.

Take this for instance: H-P did a study to get more women in top management positions. They found women at H-P applied for promotions when they believed they met 100% of the qualifications for the job.

Yes, that’s right: 100%. A perfect 10 out of 10.

Guess what? Men applied when they could meet 60% of the job requirements. Slightly more than half.

That is a stunning gap that speaks volumes to how women hold themselves back.

Confidence gap: Can you relate?

  • Do you only speak up when you’re 100% sure of what to say or how to say it?
  • Do you only “go for it” when you’re absolutely sure you can reach it?
  • Do you turn down opportunities because you might look foolish or fail?

Confidence is not a fixed state. Which means if you’re less confident than you’d like to be, you’ve got some work to do. And it’s not about saying positive affirmations or faking it.

Cultivating confidence boils down to this: Less people pleasing and perfectionism and more action, risk taking, and fast failure.

Pay close attention to the chapter on failing fast, which offers confidence-boosting habits for growing your confidence. The strategies to counter ruminating and negative automatic thoughts especially resonated with me.

Do you wish you had less self-doubt and were more confident? If you were more confident, what thoughts would you like to act on?

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