I am sitting here staring at photos of my 3-month-old niece, Isabella. I often wonder what dreams and ambitions she will have.
I want her to learn Spanish in honor of our culture and maybe Mandarin for future global opportunities, but my sister tells me she still doesn’t even have teeth, so I need to relax. I don’t know all that the future holds for her, but I know that my greatest wish for her is to grow up in a world where she is esteemed and where she sees other women knowing and acting from their place of worth.
Prior to launching my site, I sent out a survey to 60+ young career-women to see what kind of content they would like to receive and if they’d be interested in my point of view on it. By the way, the majority said yes. 😊 (Yay for me trying new things!) I asked what content they would be interested in, ranging from tips on how to receive recognition to negotiating a raise. 60% of respondents, the #1 request, was to learn how to be more confident in a male dominated industry. Wow! What a great area for us to focus on improving. I want to see you all flourish and thrive and know that we need your voices, ladies. This is a complex topic and one that will take much work to improve, but here are some techniques that helped me to increase my confidence.
First, from the practical point of view, make sure you are prepared and doing your due diligence to study, seek out mentors, and find the experts in your field. When I started out as a 22-year-old medical device sales rep, I would cry on my bed in the morning because I was so intimated since everyone around me was 40+ years old. A colleague gave our sales class solid advice, “You need to keep showing up even when it feels pointless. Nothing good can happen if you’re sitting at home”. I would force myself out of bed and try again each day. Every time I didn’t have an answer, I would google it or call a tenured colleague for help. Slowly but surely, my customers saw that I was always the first one in, the last to leave sometimes at 11pm, AND I knew my stuff. As I started to have success, that begot more success and then my confidence increased. How about you? Where can you keep showing up in your life even when you’re afraid? What can you read or study so you will feel more prepared?
I also look for people who beam with confidence and see what I might learn from them. I think many men do a great job of being confident. I have a colleague who never bats an eyelash when he is given a challenge. He figures out the first practical step and he moves forward decisively until he has enough information to take the next step. Sometimes when I feel overwhelmed, I try to think of what he would do, and it helps me to get going. Are there people in your life that you could use as a role model on confidence?
From the mental health point of view, impostor syndrome and feeling inadequate are very real feelings. I have worked with a therapist for 4 years, which I will share more about in the future, but that has made a world of difference in my life. The first thing she worked on with me was my self-talk. I was incredibly mean to myself and I hadn’t even realized it. Now, I try to take note of those thoughts whenever I feel them coming on and I replace them with positive ones such as, “I deserve to be here. My unique perspective will add value to this business decision.” How do you talk to yourself when you face a challenge or maybe have a misstep? Try becoming more aware of this and see if you can speak to yourself in a more affirming way.
This is admittedly a multi-faceted topic and one that I will revisit again, but I hope these pointers will help in your confidence journey. Though my niece, Isabella, needs to at least grow teeth and be potty trained before we can plot out her life, there’s a lot you can do to increase your confidence starting today. I can promise that you have got what it takes, or you at least have the intelligence and wherewithal to find out what you need so you can go get it.
Get your brave on, girlfriend!