At #GirlsClub, we talk a lot about confidence, but what does it truly mean? Confidence is a deeply rooted feeling that you’re okay with yourself. Heck, it might even be liking yourself (gasp!). It’s the feeling of self-belief and self-worth. It’s NOT about being perfect or being good at what OTHER people need you to be. The hardest part about confidence is that it’s not often taught and it’s also hard to learn, but it affects nearly everything in our lives. We believe confidence is so important that we made it one of the 3 ingredients in our #GirlsClub secret recipe for success, right alongside leadership training and mentorship.
So, how does one become confident? Let’s start with breaking down the barriers that are holding us back. After some soul-searching, we have pinpointed the 3 dirty words that hinder our confidence. Let’s talk about them and how to remove them from our lives:
Dirty Word #1: SHOULD
Should is a whole list of impossible standards that we somehow decided SHOULD be true for us. These are standards written by social media, reality TV, etc.
I SHOULD make the bed
I SHOULD put on real pants
I SHOULD eat less popcorn
I SHOULD drink less Prosecco
These “shoulds” turn into SHAME. If you’ve felt pain anywhere in your body when you recounted something you screwed up, then you have met my friend shame. Shame is the crappy way we feel when we don’t reach our unattainable shoulds, and it’s time to make it stop.
If you’re living your life controlled by SHOULD and SHAME, you’re likely also being controlled by PERFECTIONISM. And, in my experience, the perfectionists are quite often the least confident. I own this, I proudly wore the perfectionist badge for a long time. For me, it started in school. I HAD to be the smartest, HAD to have the best GPA. Then I went to college and I was a double major, captain of the pom squad AND graduated in 3 years. Was I proud of myself, heck yes! Was I confident, no. So, over time, I learned to take off the perfectionist badge and dig deeper into building my confidence. It’s something I cannot recommend enough!
Perfectionists, ask yourself: Who am I trying to please and what am I trying to prove?
Perfectionism can be blamed for a lot of things, one of which is the confidence gap. Studies show that when it comes to applying for jobs, men will apply if they have only 6 of the 10 requirements. Women, on the other hand, will only apply if they have all 10. ALL 10! That means we are expecting ourselves to know how to do a job we don’t even have yet. Now, as an employer, I can tell you that I look for raw talent and potential, not experience in 100% of the items in the job description.
Sales Leaders and Enablement Managers, I urge you to let women build their skills beforehand for the job they express interest in. Ladies, we are missing opportunities because WE are waiting to be perfect and holding ourselves back. We need to stop, now!
Perfectionism gives birth to that ugly monster, Imposter Syndrome. Not only are we waiting until we’re “ready” for that new job, but when we actually get credit for being great, we can’t accept it. We deflect the kudos. “So and so actually helped”, “Oh, I couldn’t have done it by myself”, “Jamie deserves the credit, they really helped me”. Sound familiar? That’s Imposter Syndrome talking and it’s being fueled by Perfectionism.
Perfectionism starves confidence, the two can’t co-exist. So, how do we stop the madness? Failure. I know, sounds backwards, but hear me out. Failure starves perfectionism. I’m not sitting here suggesting you make big colossal mistakes on purpose, but I AM saying that if you’re not failing, just a little bit, then you’re probably not trying hard enough. Embrace those little failures, maybe even celebrate them.
How do I know that failure actually helps? Because I’ve spent the last 3 years celebrating it. In #GirlsClub, we ask the participants to take part in ‘Rise Up on Record’ where we celebrate the three “Fs” (that’s Fears, Failures, and F-Ups). I said I would live out loud every month for a year. And oh boy, did it help quiet those fears and build my confidence. I encourage you to try it too!
When you accept failure, there is nothing left to fear.
Okay, now that we have talked about how to fight back against SHOULD, let’s talk about our next dirty word.
Dirty Word #2: FINE
I’m fine, we’re fine, it’s fine! FINE is that dirty word that lets us overcommit. “Oh, you need that sooner? It’s FINE.” “The salary is less than I anticipated? It’ll be fine.” FINE is not fine. Fine will have you trying to do it all.
You know who’s not fine? A bad-ass. They are too busy living in their bad-assery to care about the SHOULDs or to say FINE. What is bad-assery, you ask? Well, according to Shonda Rhimes in ‘The Year of Yes,’ it is “the practice of knowing one’s own accomplishments and gifts, accepting one’s own accomplishments and gifts and celebrating one’s own accomplishments and gifts.”
What is the opposite of a bad ass? A dumb ass, and I was one. Dumb asses are over givers. They work late after the kids go to bed. They pay out of pocket for the SPIF money their company didn’t approve. They make breakfast for everyone else first, when they are already starving. The dumb ass does everything for everyone else
So, let’s stop being dumb asses and start being bad asses. Leaders, we need to promote bad-assery on our teams. As individuals we need to promote it in ourselves, in our friends, in our colleagues and co-workers. Imagine the difference we can make by just helping other people to feel more confident?
Let’s look for opportunities to help each other to be unapologetically awesome. Let’s encourage, let’s compliment. I have a couple of ideas that you can use right away.
#1 – Embrace Karma:
This means you get what you put out there and you get what you expect. When you start your day with your mission, you are intentional. For me, my goal is to feel confident and successful at work. When I get lofty, my goal is to change lives. When I start my day that way, it happens.
So, expect MORE.
#2 – Decide what you want:
If you haven’t dedicated time to asking yourself the big questions, then you probably don’t know what you want. If you’ve been spending all of your time pleasing everybody else, you may be hurtling towards a goal that isn’t even yours. Ask yourself:
What do I want to be doing all day? (NOT just what title do I want)
How do you want to feel all day?
What kind of people do you want to be around all day?
#3 – Ask for it:
Once you have decided on what you want, ask yourself this… “Did I ask for it?” How will someone know what you want if you keep it to yourself? Don’t wait for someone to offer you the thing. Go out there and ASK FOR IT!
I have a challenge for you. Do you have a role model who is doing the thing you want to be doing? Find an opportunity to talk to them and use this: “I was really intrigued by how you ________ and if I’m being honest, you’re a role model of mine. I want to learn more about how to _________ one day. Could I book us a meeting where you might lend some advice?”
The beauty of today’s world is that this doesn’t have to be an in-person conversation. If you use social media, you can message just about anybody.
If you want to have the conversation with your boss, use this: “I’m eager to advance at __________, and if you’re open to it, I’d like to book us a meeting next month, maybe you can help me see the career path and what I need to do to earn it?”
Dirty Word(s) #3: NOT READY
I get it, asking is scary. They might say no. I’m not ready to ask for management yet, I’m not ready to be an AE. I get it, believe me, but we need to be brave. I want to let you in on a little secret, being brave doesn’t mean NOT feeling scared. It means feeling scared and doing it anyway. It’s speaking up at the meeting or jumping off the high dive. It’s signing up to speak in public. Bravery is purposely putting yourself out of your comfort zone for the purpose of growth, or the greater good, or for your future self.
To conquer our bravery we wear superhero suits. For my sons, when they were a bit younger, they had actual superhero capes. Whenever they would have to do something that scared them they would “suit up” to be brave. We all have our own superhero capes. For some people it is a thing you wear, for others it could be something they say. “Suiting up” can help us when we’re feeling nervous or unsure. For me, when I’m nervous, I “suit up” by wearing Chanel No. 5.
Be careful though, we cannot live in bravery. Bravery burns out. If you have to “suit up” all week to do our calls and meetings, only to spend the whole weekend in bed binging Ted Lasso to recover… then we are living in bravery and probably on our way to a burnout. So, how do we stop living in bravery? We need to transition from bravery to courage. Courage is the bridge between bravery and confidence.
As Nelson Mandela put it, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear. But the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” So, we need to conquer our fear. Easy, right? Ha! Not quite, fear sucks. It’s real, it’s big. But the more we avoid and ignore it, the bigger the fear gets. So, we need to stop being paralyzed and shine a light on that fear. It’s the only way to start getting better.
The first step in conquering fear, is finding it and saying it out loud. Then, once you find it, dig in. Ask yourself “why?” Keep asking until you find the real reason, the one you feel in your gut. As Gloria Steinem said best: “When you feel fear, try using it as a signal that something REALLY IMPORTANT is about to happen.”
Does your fear have something to do with not being good enough? You’re not alone. That is Imposter Syndrome talking and we all feel the same way. Let’s name that fear, say it out loud, and conquer it. Because you are good enough and you are NOT an imposter!
When we work through these steps and we no longer have to “suit up” to walk into work or live our lives, we are living in authenticity. Living authentically means we are living in confidence instead of bravery.
If you missed our webinar on “How to Become Your Most Confident Self”, you can watch the replay here.
Thank you to our sponsors Chorus and Outreach for making this conversation possible!
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