Why Are We Still Telling Women They Lack Self-Confidence?
Looking at the careers of those you respect and admire, you will notice a significant commonality: they all took calculated and bold moves from day one. The challenge is that many people are afraid to take risks as they fear failure to such a degree that it paralyzes them.
Christie Hunter Arscott, a Rhodes Scholar and author of Begin Boldly, explains that risks do not need to have binary outcomes of success or failure. Instead, you “either achieve a goal or learn a valuable lesson.”
If you aren’t failing, you are not taking big enough risks. We tend to overestimate the impact of failure. “Rather than reducing the risk of failure,” shares Hunter Arscott, “You would be better off putting your energy into creating a plan for failure.”
Unfortunately, repeated research has shown that women lag behind men in confidence. As Carol Dweck famously explained in her book Mindset, women equate failure as a fixed mindset and correlate that with their identity, meaning if I fail, I must be a failure. Men, on the other hand, see failure as data.
Build courage, not confidence
The solution may not be to build your confidence; instead, consider developing unyielding courage. Courage can exist in the absence of confidence. It is the micro changes that yield a courageous mindset. These are small-scale acts that have incremental impacts over time and long-term returns. Build your capacity to learn new things, so eventually, what once took courage, is now routine.
What do micro-acts of courage look like? According to Hunter Arscott, this could be as simple as
- Challenging yourself to be the first to speak in small groups.
- Putting yourself up for consideration for supporting a small initiative or project.
- Suggesting reaching out to someone your team doesn’t know.
- Offering to take the first stab at a presentation or proposal.
- Sharing a viewpoint in a meeting that could be controversial.
The benefits of amplifying your work
What makes a woman cringe more than anything? Likely the need to amplify their own work. While women are great at advocating and boosting the work of others, they shy away from doing it for themselves. Ongoing studies show that women who make their achievements known advance further, are more satisfied with their careers, and make more money.