A few months ago Stacie Prosser, who publishes the Kansas City Business Journal, asked me, “What do you think is the number one issue facing women today?” In my mind, the answer was easy – but yet also so complex. Confidence. Confidence can make you soar or screech you to a halt. The worst is teetering in the space in between.
Cautiously, but boldly, I call out the impact of confidence on progress, self-esteem, opportunity and happiness. I say cautiously, because I would consider myself (as I know many other women do too) a confident woman and in making a general statement that confidence is a driving force impacting women today, I don’t want to be misunderstood that buying into this theory means you are saying you aren’t (ever) confident. But while I’m generally confident, there are definitely times that my own confidence waivers.
Many women have a high degree of confidence. They can walk into a room and own it, or get up on stage and present to hundreds, or willingly take a risk to advance their personal or professional life. These things come naturally. To others, the thought of doing these things may send them into an anxious sweat. Wherever you are on this scale, the real issue with confidence that impacts so many of us are the voices in our heads that we allow (sometimes without realizing it) to become louder than they should be.
You’re applying for a job – or let’s back up, you’re thinking about applying for a job – and you go over and over and back and forth with “should I? Will they notice me? I don’t really meet all of the requirements.” Did you know, according to a study by Hewlett Packard, men who meet only 60% of the listed qualifications for a position will apply, while women don’t feel as confident unless they are at or close to the 100% mark?
The voices…how about that new strategy you’ve been thinking about but haven’t mustered up the confidence to share with the group? Is there a crucial conversation that needs to be had with a co-worker or a loved one, but you are playing the scenario over and over in your head and asking yourself or making the statement, “gosh, I don’t want to upset them or come across too strong.”
Have you ever executed confidently in a situation and then spent hours reeling over, “did I do that or say that right? I haven’t heard back from so-and-so, so they must not have liked what I had to share.” Or, “maybe I shouldn’t have done that, or said it that way or shared all of that.” One of the most common, “what if I do it and I fail? What if I make that decision and so-and-so loses confidence in me or overlooks me for future advancement?”
As women, we also face the challenge of appearing too confident and then wrestling with labels or not being viewed as team players (that’s a topic to expand upon another day). Where is the balance? What is the middle ground?
Here’s the real scoop – YOU’VE GOT THIS! No really – you’ve got this! You have a 100% rate of success of survival at this point. What have you got to lose? What if you shifted that self-doubt into positive self-talk?
To go further with that question, “what have you got to lose?” let me tell you — it’s your dreams, it’s new opportunity, it’s new relationship: it’s your life. You only get one of those and your focus and ambition is best served by flexing that muscle of confidence and courage. The more you use it, the stronger it becomes. Save your energy for what matters most – doing, not worrying or doubting. Living instead of shielding.
Listen to the fire in your belly. Don’t let self-doubt or over-analysis create voices in your head that don’t belong. Focus on what you have accomplished and the dreams you have set for your future. Then gather your thoughts, assemble your tribe, flex those muscles and do what women do – SHAPE THE FUTURE.