Lack of Confidence – A Woman’s Greatest Challenge in Business
Women have been trying to break through the glass ceiling for years. They struggle for equality in the workplace and in society. Historically women have played a supportive role. They’ve been the behind-the-scenes nurturers. In the business world, cultural and institutional barriers often define success or failure for businesswomen. Yet there’s an even bigger reason why women sometimes struggle to succeed. What is it? Many women lack confidence.
What is self-confidence? It’s the feeling of trusting your abilities, qualities and judgments. Many believe that self-confidence has to do with positive affirmations. Although, that is partly accurate, what truly builds confidence is experience – setting and achieving goals – thus building competence.
What makes so many women lack confidence? There are five basic reasons why women and men have lack of confidence:
- Unrealistic expectations. Many people are perfectionists. To illustrate: a number of years ago, Hewlett-Packard discovered that women applied for a promotion only when they believed they met 100% of the qualifications. Men, on the other hand, applied when they felt they could meet 60% of the job requirements. If you wait to be perfect to reach for what you want, you’ll never get it! Your self-confidence comes from doing your best now. It’s a process of daily approximation. Start where you are!
- Harsh, self-judgmental, negative thoughts running through our minds on an endless track. Some people feel they’re never good enough, never attractive enough, or never smart enough. Often this is a misguided attempt to improve their performance. Your thoughts have power. If you put yourself down, you’ll feel, well, down. The next time you hear negative talk in your head, ask yourself: How can I motivate myself to reach for what I want? Focus on an earlier accomplishment, be kind to yourself knowing that when you feel safe on the inside rather than under attack you will increase your motivation and perform better.
- Preoccupation with fear. In the book, The Confidence Gap: A Guide to Overcoming Fear and Self Doubt, Russ Harris offers this wonderful advice, “Rather than trying to ‘get over’ your fears, form a new and wiser relationship with them. Paradoxically, it’s only when we stop struggling against our fearfulness that we begin to find lasting freedom from it.” When you can peacefully embrace every one of your human emotions, including fear, as part of your daily occurrence, you’ll view life as a fascinating journey not something to dread. (I highly recommend this book as a valuable addition to your self help library.)
- Lack of experience. There is no such thing as failure, only useful feedback! Feedback enables us to learn from our mistakes, refine our plan, change our behavior or adjust our priorities. Failure, on the other hand, erodes confidence, negatively impacts self-image and reduces our motivation to improve, which inevitably leads to low level of achievement. So, embrace “failure.” Because if you are failing, you are learning and if you are learning, you are gaining experience. And experience is really what confidence is all about.
- Lack of skill. Never stop learning. Learn something every day about your field, job, hobby or presentation – whatever you want to feel more confident about. Nowadays it’s so easy to gain knowledge and information through YouTube tutorials, free online classes, mentoring. When you’re prepared, your self-confidence soars.
What can you do to build your self-confidence? Make an honest assessment of yourself. If you need to, ask a trusted friend to help you with this exercise. Make a list of all the things that have been gifted to you because people value you – close relationships, words of praise, loving gestures, kind deeds. Then make another list of your accomplishments that make you feel proud. Place these lists where you see them daily to remind yourself what an amazing person you are.
Isn’t it time that you stop missing out on opportunities in your life? I’m here to help you. Through private coaching and group coaching sessions you can embrace your fears and discover your inner strength as you reclaim confidence in yourself. Please contact me and let’s talk.