Professionally, anyone that has come in contact with me can say I am confident in my skills, I love what I do and do it well. Well….that wasn’t always the case. Throughout my career, I have encountered many situations where I would question my capabilities – hell, I still question them every day, but I push through. I don’t let that stop me. But I wasn’t always like this – it took time to develop that “outer shell”. I remember walking into a room and even though I did not feel “at the level of others sitting across from me” I still sat at that table and leaned in. Many times, I would just sit back and observe, too nervous to speak up at the risk of sounding foolish, but I was still there.
Not anymore. More often than not, women hold themselves back because of fear. The fear of not knowing as much as the men at the table. The fear of sounding foolish. The fear of just not “fitting in”. Why is that? Why do men ask the questions we are thinking about, but don’t vocalize. Confidence. It all starts with this. The confidence in your abilities, your role and more importantly…in yourself.
When coaching women in these situations, I typically work on their confidence. They need to understand that they even though they don’t feel like they fit in, they are at that table for a reason. Speaking up is key. Ask questions and participate! The hardest part is taking that first step. Will it be smooth sailing after that? No. It’s a work in progress, but it gets easier with every step you take to build your confidence. I want to share three tips that will help you get started:
- Reflect on your past accomplishments – remember you are in this role for a reason, you earned this spot at the table. Keep reminding yourself of your wins and you will eventually gain that confidence in yourself.
- Don’t let fear hold you back from achieving your potential – we all fail, don’t be afraid to fail. See each failure as a lesson learned and you will learn to embrace it.
- RELAX – sometimes by getting worked up over something, you perform below your potential. Take a step back and remember…you’ve got this!