Women play a huge role in our society and our economy as a whole, and in our families as well. In many ways, women in a traditional heterosexual couple and family dynamic are the leaders of the family. And yet, too many women suffer from low self-confidence. On average, this is an issue that tends to adversely affect women more than women.
Why would women who have every reason to be confident still feel so insecure? We all pick up things from a wide variety of sources –- our parents, our families, our peers, the media, and elsewhere -– and some of this can be very harmful, although that may not have been the intention. Some women learn that if they appear too confident they’ll be perceived as arrogant, whereas many men don’t seem to have this limiting belief. A KPMG study showed that 86% of women recalled being taught to be nice to others when they were growing up, while only 34% recall being taught to share their point of view. Taken too far, this can lead to being overly concerned with others to our own detriment, valuing the wellbeing and success of others above ourselves. As it turns out, these “soft skills” of compassion and empathy are turning out to be more and more in demand in leaders as it’s becoming better understood that they’re important qualities in successful leaders. And so as women, we should really embrace our own kindness and compassion and empathy and recognize them as critical strengths; we don’t need to be aggressive and arrogant and hard in order to be successful.
In Episode 22 I talked all about fear, where it comes from, and what we can do about it. Some of our lack of confidence stems from a fear that developed growing up, that, in order to be loved and accepted by our family or our peer group, we need to do things in ways in which others approve. Listening to this fear made us comfortable as a young child, but now it holds us back. We need to question fears like these and learn to listen to our own inner wisdom instead of that old fear voice.
Richard Petty, a researcher at Ohio State, conducted a massive study of 150,000 people and he found that as confidence increases, so does income. Petty defines confidence as “the stuff that turns thoughts into actions.” He also showed a fascinating link between our physical actions and postures, and our own confidence.
To broaden our understanding I discuss the definitions of self-confidence and self-esteem. I also discuss several studies that have shown that women in medical school and in nursing showed significantly lower confidence than their male counterparts despite having comparable levels of competence. A study conducted by HP showed that men were willing to apply for jobs for which they were qualified for 60% of the requirements, whereas women would only apply if they were qualified for 100% of the requirements. All of this is to say that confidence, not competence, is the issue for many women. The best way to build your confidence in your competence is to get out there and start doing, start taking actions. They don’t have to be huge actions, but start somewhere, start where you are, start with some small actions, recognize and value and celebrate your actions, and build on that.
I end with several Purpose Power Tips to help you start building your self-confidence today. In one of them I refer to a TED talk by Amy Cuddy, which, if you haven’t watched it, I strongly suggest you do so. In another I talk about a tool – the VIA, Values in Action – that you can use to learn more about your own strengths. (To take the VIA for free, go to http://www.viacharacter.org.) I also announce the first annual Women’s Global Happiness Day, held on October 18, 2018, which, at the time of the recording of this podcast, will be held in over twenty cities around the world! For more information on this, please go to https://carinrockind.com/wghd!
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May you live purposefully, may you love yourself, and may you love life.
Bye for now!