What is self-confidence?
Confidence can be described as a belief in one’s self and one’s ability to succeed. Striking a healthy balance between too much and too little confidence can be challenging. Too much and you can come off as cocky and stumble into unforeseen obstacles when you overestimate your own abilities or fail to complete projects on deadline because you underestimate the time and effort they require. At the same time, having too little confidence can prevent you from taking risks and seizing opportunities—in school, at work, in your social life, and beyond. Projecting just enough confidence helps you gain credibility, make a good lasting first impression, deal with pressure and meet personal and professional challenges head on.
The Hewlett-Packard study – 100% vs 60%
Several years ago Hewlett-Packard conducted an internal study that showed women applied for a job only when they believed they met 100% of the qualifications listed. But men were happy to apply when they thought they could meet 60% of the job requirements. As you can see, gender differences in confidence are quite dramatic.
Women underrate their performance
Professor Scott Taylor conducted a study at the University of New Mexico Anderson School of Management focused on how men and women rate their job performances. His team found that female managers are more than 3x as likely as men to underrate their bosses’ opinions of their job performance. On the other hand, the men slightly overestimated how their bosses would rate them.
Women underestimate their skills and abilities
As expected, women fail to estimate their skills and abilities correctly. Even when their results are close to those of men, women still believe they performed lower than the men.
Here are 5 steps to build your self-confidence if you are a woman:
1. Acknowledge that perfection is pure fiction
Perfection is pure fiction.
Through her nonprofit, Girls Who Code, Reshma Saujani initiates young women into the tech world. Her goal is to bring one million women in computer science by 2020. In 2016, she delivered a great TEDx speech about girls: Teach girls about bravery, not perfection.
In her speech, she talks about how we as society raise boys to be brave and take risks while we teach girls to smile pretty, play it safe and behave. When talking about her students learning to code, Reshma told the audience that boys ask their professor for help with their code using these words: There’s something wrong with my code. Girls had a different approach – There’s something wrong with me.
Believing that you are worthy only when you are perfect is dangerous because perfection doesn’t exist. Perfection is a mental prison women lock themselves in. Women pass on opportunities because they believe they are not perfect for the task.
Women need to free themselves from the need to be perfect and become comfortable with doing the best they can and be happy about it.
2. Stop comparing yourself to others
We live in the world of social media. We look at our friends’ posts about fancy cars or fashionable clothes or travels to exotic places. It makes us feel poor or unhappy with our lives or less beautiful or fortunate. We compare ourselves to them and feel bad. Or we see someone’s struggle, pain or misfortune and feel good about ourselves because we are not the ones going through it.
It’s called social comparison and it may be downward or upward. Both comparisons can make us forget about a person’s strengths and limit our ability to empathize. Upward comparisons can make us feel envious and lower our self-esteem.
Don’t compare your beginning with someone else’s middle.
3. Become aware of your strengths
If you are reading this, take a piece of paper and write down 10 strengths in the next three minutes.
How many did you actually wrote? Three, five, seven?
When asked about other people’s strong points, most women can count at least a dozen effortlessly, but when asked about their own, they struggle to find a few if any at all.
When it comes to most women, self-love and self-knowledge is in short supply.
Women need to become aware of their strengths.
Instead of trying to work on your weaknesses, spend your energy and time on growing your innate skills, abilities and talents.
4. Acknowledge and celebrate your achievements
The impostor syndrome was first identified and described by psychologists in 1978. This syndrome causes people to doubt their achievements and fear that others will expose them as fraudulent.
Not being aware of your strengths is the first argument that fuels the emergence of this syndrome. Before you know it, self-doubt sets in and you begin to believe that you are unworthy of your current job, or promotion, or life.
What you need to do is remember you didn’t get to your current situation by chance.
Behind your achievements is a lot of hard work, constant development, ambition and perseverance. Your personal set of skills and abilities brings value to your employer.
5. Monitor your negative thoughts
Do you constantly think I’m not good enough, I won’t be able to perform, They won’t pick me, I will fail, I am a failure?
This is your self-talk speaking negative thoughts. Why is it that when we talk about a friend we find so many good and positive aspects, but when it comes to our own person, we are critical and judgemental?
The source of this judgemental inner talk could be our parents or teachers or society. Some may consider this thought as motivation to do better. But it’s not the case if it transforms into constant criticism and judgement.
If only we could treat ourselves with the same kindness and love we treat our best friends!