Because we now think confidence is more important than ability when it comes to getting ahead, whether on the job or in life, generally. Good compensation, happiness, and professional fulfillment may depend on confidence, according to Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, authors of The Confidence Code.
Not only that. Confidence is now said to be an important buffer to the stress of old age. Less confidence can result in lowered self-esteem, which can increase the production of cortisol.
Not born confident? Don’t worry. Per the book, “The newest research shows that we can literally change our brains (to make us) more confidence prone.”
How? Well, you could read the book, but here are some take-aways:
- Stop overthinking everything. It’s an evolutionary specialty that can be damaging in modern times.
- Act! Summon up some courage, take action, congratulate yourself for trying regardless of outcome, and move on. Repeat often.
- Engage in self-compassion. Whatever you would say to a friend when she’s feeling down? Say it to yourself. Treat yourself like a friend.
- Practice / do the work. Mastery in one thing spills over into other areas.
- Meditation can shrink your amygdalae (the region of the brain that amps up fear) and stimulate your prefrontal cortex (the calm, rational area).
If that’s too much work, concentrate on how you present yourself physically.
- Practice power positions: spread out, take up space, and keep your chin raised. It’ll change your internal chemisty; no lie. Watch this video to see how it works. If you’re in a hurry, cut to the 4-minute mark. If you’re in a serious hurry, cut to the 10.
- Don’t use “upspeak” (i.e. sound like a Valley Girl when you talk).
Kay and Shipman say:
Of all the warped things that women do to themselves to undermine their confidence, we found the pursuit of perfection to be the most crippling…you’ll inevitably and routinely feel inadequate.
But the pressure to improve (and its motivating force, the feeling of inadequacy) is everywhere in our culture. Best example: the magazines on the racks at the grocery store where you must stand while waiting to check out. How many headlines on each cover are about ways you can improve yourself? Try an experiment next time you look at the cover of a “women’s” magazine: strip out all the self-improvement headlines. What is left? Not much.
Fight back, ladies. Step one might be to read this book. It is funny (Katty Kay learning to kiteboard), relatable (stellar international leaders Christine Lagarde and Angela Merkel comforting each other when male politicians beat up on them), and well researched. You can also read more about confidence at this blog.
So go ahead and try. If not for yourself, do it to establish a model for your daughters and granddaughters.