The future starts at an early age

The Confidence Gap book cover; author Russ Harris

I recently finished reading the book, The Confidence Gap, by Russ Harris, again.  Its advice needs to be shared with all women, girls and parents.

Rule 1: The actions of confidence come first; the feelings of confidence come later.

In 2013, we’re trying to figure out how to make a dent in the problem of the low numbers of women in corporate senior leadership positions. One theory of how to fix the problem is to increase the level of confidence in women, and especially in young girls.  The theory is that the more confidence we have, the more likely we are to compete, take necessary risks, and build skills and careers that are prone to advancement.

I don’t know about you, but when I walk down the street or through a mall, I repeatedly see signs of lack of confidence in women.  We bump into things, and we apologize.  We arrive at a door at the same time as someone else, and we apologize.  We offer our opinion that differs from someone else’s, and we apologize.  It’s disheartening, but it’s reality.

I recently came across an article that linked successful women and sports.  It talked about sports being a place where women learned to compete, and learned the lessons that helped them later in their career and in their life.  That’s terrific.  Parents, encourage your girls to participate in competitive sports.  But what about people like me who have zero athletic ability or tendency to enjoy watching sports, let alone playing them?  We need help to develop confidence in another way, and we need our parent’s help to do that when we’re young.

“I have to feel confident before I do what matters.”  This is the granddaddy of all those “wrong rules”.  And the more we play by it, the worse the results.  Pg. 23

The important thing we need to know and understand is that the action comes before the feeling.  So DO things that take you outside of your comfort zone, and build confidence in the process.

At the very least, find, and join, a Toastmasters club.  In this educational environment you’ll learn to speak with confidence, to think clearly, to listen with intent, and to lead with purpose.  It all happens in an atmosphere of practice, feedback, and practice some more.  The single greatest benefit I’ve gotten from a 22 year membership, is an increase in confidence.

If we want to do anything with confidence… then we have to do the work.  We have to practice the necessary skills over and over, until they come naturally.  Pg. 25

As a woman in business and a leader in any field, we are responsible to help the women we meet to advance.  If you’ve ever wondered how to do that without taking on too much effort or ownership, then keep in mind that the greatest impact you can have on a woman’s career may very well be the few words you say that help them increase their confidence.

Now that’s not asking too much, is it?!?

 

 

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