One 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…
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.
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?
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