Moving past a crisis of confidence

It’s a familiar theme, and this research hits it home.

An eight-year study of hundreds of thousands of people in 48 countries has found that women are less self-confident than men.

There is no rational reason for why this should be the case: men and women of all ages, professions and backgrounds should feel empowered to believe in themselves, day in, and day out.

On average, men do this better than women. A common example I’ve heard is men being more likely than women to ask for a raise at work, an indication that they believe they are worth it, that they value themselves, and that they are empowered to ask for what they think they deserve.

I hate to see anyone hold themselves back. We should all feel strong and empowered to pursue our goals. A lack of self-confidence however can mean someone is more likely to overestimate the risks involved in reaching for those goals, which makes them less likely to take them. They may not argue for their own interests as strongly, or at all. They may not get a raise, or the job, or an opportunity to shine.

Not only is this discouraging, but it presents real barriers to growth, both professionally and personally.

This Forbes article by Margie Warrell on closing the confidence gap really spoke to me. I’ve worked with many employees who have not felt valued at work. That affected their confidence. Likewise, their diminished self-confidence likely affected their work. It can be a vicious, discouraging cycle. This article also made me think of the confidence challenges that face female leaders, including female ODs. It takes risk to start your own practice, to ask for mentorship, or to ask for a raise or promotion. But it’s a prerequisite for growth, and it starts with valuing and appreciative yourself.

Old habits die hard. And as this self-confidence crisis crosses borders and backgrounds, it can be difficult to identify and address. In her article, Warrell writes that change can start with empowering and emboldening other women to believe in themselves. After all, sometimes it’s easier to support others, though I would add that it is worth making a conscious effort to be kind to yourself too.

I linked to it above, but here is the article again. To the women out there who read this post, let’s try to close the confidence gap in our own lives and networks, even through small actions each day. We’re worth it.