Part of the Speaker & Dialogue Series
By Dr. Susan R. Madsen
Confidence is the ingredient that separates those who imagine from those who accomplish. It’s an important part of personal happiness, success and fulfillment. It is a sense that one can try new things, overcome hurdles, and master hard things. It is self-esteem that says “I like myself”, “I am valuable”, “I believe in myself.”
As important as confidence is, however, evidence shows that girls and women struggle with confidence more than men do. They experience more anxiety and self-doubt. Women judge themselves harder and assume the blame when things go wrong. Women don’t let go of failures as quickly as men, and are more apt to deflect praise and offer disclaimers for achievements. What accounts for these gender differences?
It’s a combination of genetics, upbringing, and choice. The good news is that it’s the effect of nurture on nature that really matters and makes us who we are. Nurture is so powerful that it can alter nature’s original programming. We do have a choice.
Some of the things women can do to increase confidence are:
- Develop a growth mindset (Try googling “growth mindset” for some rich insights)
- Decrease reliance on praise
- Focus on “we” instead of “me”
- Fail and then learn
- Embrace struggle
- Take risks
- Discourage pointless perfectionism
Believe in your abilities and develop a spirit of optimism. You can make things work out. Develop a sense of self-compassion as you’re growing. You’ll have some great days and some not so great. That’s all part of growth, so be kind to yourself as you’re learning. The most successful and fulfilled people in life always believe they can improve and can still learn things.
There’s no easy confidence prescription. Strengthening confidence is hard work, but it’s doable, so keep at it. It will be worth it.
These are some of the concepts I presented on September 23, 2014 at our first event in the Utah Women’s Leadership Speaker & Dialogue Series. I’ve presented it to many other groups as well. If you missed it, you can find valuable information on this issue in the article, The Confidence Gap (The Atlantic) and also in the book, “The Confidence Code” by Kay and Shipman. I am also happy to come and present to groups if you have gatherings of 50 or more. It is really important information!