Unconditional Confidence

imageOne of the things I love about my job is that I get to pick and choose my clients. I can work on projects that really excite and energize me. And lately I’ve been helping put together an exciting Panel Discussion. It takes place on September 19th and will include 3 top male executives in Silicon Valley discussing “Men Supporting Women’s Success in Corporate America.”

YES!  You heard me right. Corporate men discussing how they can support women’s success at their companies.

Last week we had a prep call with the panelists and one of the topics that came up was the confidence gap between men and women. Why are women so afraid to assert themselves or ask for a promotion or speak up when they have ideas? The men on the call discussed ways that they can encourage women to speak up more in their companies.

They had clear examples of how they are already actively promoting women based on their qualifications. They didn’t deny that there’s still more work to be done but the fact that they are even acknowledging this openly is a great first step.

I am really excited to hear what comes out of the discussion.  <<< Click on the image to see the flier I designed for it.  And better yet, if you’re in the area, I’d love it if you could join me.

This confidence gap is talked about in greater detail in Katty Kay and Claire Shipman’s book “The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self Assurance—What Women Should Know”.  (Which coincidentally the Kindle version is only $1.99 right now if you want to read more about it yourself.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.)

I just started reading it, but it got me thinking.  I certainly have times in my life where I don’t feel confident at all:

  • Asking for Money
  • Marketing Myself
  • Feeling confident in my abilities

That’s just to name a few.  But I don’t think it was always this way…

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When I was a kid, I remember owning a T-Shirt that said “Anything Boys Can Do, Girls Can Do Better.”  And I honestly believed that.  It wasn’t that I wanted to be better than boys necessarily.  But I did believe that anything was possible.

Lately I have seen a few examples in others where this belief is exemplified.  Like with Mo’ne Davis – Superstar of the 2014 Little League World Series.

VIDEO

THIS GIRL IS AMAZING!!!

Or what about the viral YouTube video that Always feminine products created called “Like A Girl”?  This video brings tears to my eyes every time I watch it.

I think one of the reasons that children feel like they can accomplish anything regardless of their sex, race or economic status is because they embody the quality of Unconditional Confidence.  This concept was first introduced to me at the meditation center where I study in San Francisco, Shambhala Meditation Center.

But what is Unconditional Confidence?

It is an unwavering sense that you are good enough.

That you are not only good enough just the way you are, without the need to change anything, but that you were born that way.  It’s our inherent nature as human beings.  And because you are good enough, you have the ability to be and accomplish anything you desire, regardless of external circumstances.

Children know this feeling.  Children live by this feeling.

But at some point that feeling shifts into a place where they no longer see their friends as equals.  And instead start to notice the differences:

  • This person has more money than me
  • That person is more talented than me
  • They are better than me because they are a boy

And after years of practice, this separation becomes a part of us and that can lead to anxiety, depression and an overwhelming sense of uneasiness.

To overcome that feeling of uneasiness, we try to act out in the traditional sense of confidence.  We start to “show” others that we are confident by acting superior.  We display power over others and pretend that we can’t be hurt.

But at the end of the day, this is all just an act, a game that we are playing with ourselves and others.  When we can let the veil drop and show that we too have vulnerabilities:

  • That we are also scared
  • That we don’t really have it all figured out
  • That we are not perfect

That’s when our unconditional confidence shines through.

“Teaching a child to accept and even embrace struggle, rather than shy away from it, is a crucial step along the path toward instilling confidence. You are showing the child that it’s possible to make progress without being perfect.” – Katty Kay “The Confidence Code”

Meditation helps me see that this separation between myself and others is just an illusion.  It helps me know that no matter how low I feel, how far I have fallen off the wagon or how many people I think I have disappointed, I am still worthy enough to be a part of this world.

No matter how scared I am to ask for more money, or to market myself, or to feel confident in my abilities — I DO IT ANYWAY, regardless of the outcome.  It’s not always easy but it’s opening up to that vulnerability, that makes me a success even before I get started.

Now I would like to hear from you:

What helps you tap into your unconditional confidence? When was a time that you stepped outside of your comfort zone and did something you felt scared to do? How did it feel?

Leave a comment below and sign up for my mailing list if you’d like to hear more from me.

7 Gift Ideas that are sure to make your Admin feel special

April 23, 2014 is Administrative Assistant’s Day and you know what that means, it’s time to make your Admin feel like the million dollars you really should be paying her.  But don’t worry, if you forgot to get her (or him) something.  It’s not too late!  Here are my top 7 last minute gift ideas that are guaranteed to make every Admin feel special.

1. FLOWERS

image-2Now I know you are probably thinking that your Admin normally orders the flowers when you need them.  But that’s what makes this gift so darn special.  She’ll think, “Wow it’s amazing that he actually figured out how to order flowers and I didn’t even have to help!” Most florists deliver day of, so if you order them in the morning it shouldn’t be a problem. And don’t call 1-800-Flowers.  Just type “florist and your zip code” into Google, pick one that seems decent and give them a call.  That same afternoon you will be the coolest boss on the planet.

2. CUPCAKES

image-3Now we aren’t talking just any old cupcakes here.  The only way to make this work is to buy those cutesy little boutique cupcakes.  Like the one’s from Kara’s Cupcakes  in San Francisco.  They are cute and delicious and small enough that she won’t feel guilty eating the entire thing.  Plus she can share them with her Admin friends and be the coolest kid on the floor.  You will really win points for this one!

3. GIFT CERTIFICATE

image-4You can buy a gift certificate to just about anywhere, pop it inside of a handwritten card and she will love it.  But my recommendation would be some high-end store that she may not normally shop at.  When I was at the hedge fund, we always got gift certificates to places like Saks 5th Avenue or Bloomingdales.  And even if I just bought a fancy pair of socks, it was just fun treat to shop there.

4. TAKE THEM OUT TO LUNCH

image-5Believe it or not, most Admin’s really enjoy getting to know their bosses on a deeper level.  If you don’t have time to take her out to lunch on their special day, invite her to add a lunch to your calendar, “just for the two of you.”  Or maybe invite your entire team?  However, now this is important, let her pick the location.  There is always that one spot that every Admin has been dying to eat at but can’t afford.  If you don’t think she’d be into lunch with the boss, then hand her your Amex and offer to pay for lunch with her colleagues.  Once again making you and her feel like coolest kid in town.

5. ADMIN SPA DAY

image-6Every year at the hedge fund, we had a company sponsored Admin spa day.  It was a day where we could leave work after lunch, head over to our spa appointments as a group and then just relax for the rest of the afternoon.  This was always one of my favorite events of te year.  I could not wait for spa day!  The catch is of course, that it takes a lot of dough and a lot to organize.  So if you are not planning type, then just leave this to your HR department to organize at a different time of year.

6. LET THEM LEAVE EARLY

image-7Even if it’s only an hour early, it still feels great.  And this gift is more powerful than what money can buy.  They will feel the rush of leaving the office before everyone else.  Beating traffic.  Getting home with more time to spend with the kids.  Let me tell you, these things are HUGE.  Try it, it sounds simple but you’ll be surprised.

7. THANK YOU CARD

image-8And at the end of the day, if all else fails, and you can’t think of anything else to get them, at the very least write them a thank you card.  A handwritten note of gratitude and appreciation goes a long way.

And now I need your help.

First of all, I hope you will sign up for my email list.  And second, what’s the best Admin gift you ever received?  What is the best gift you’ve ever given?  Any special plans for Admin day this year?  Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.  I’d love to hear from you.