You know how every now and then you read a thing that has such a profound effect on you that you decide to change the way that you are living your life as a result of it? Well, yesterday that thing for me was this piece on The Atlantic about The Confidence Gap between men and women.
I mean, we all know it’s a thing – that there’s a big difference in the way society makes us think and feel about how confident we should be about our potential, opportunities and right to success – but I had never really acknowledged the impact it was having on my life, and that if I’m going to get anywhere then I need to change it.
The piece was published back in May 2014 and I just happened to stumble upon it via Twitter yesterday. (You see, if you d*ck around on there enough, you will find the most incredibly useful things. Also cats, lots of funny videos of cats).
In short, it’s about all the different elements of our upbringing, and the ways we’re taught to perceive ourselves and others that affect each sex’s approach to applying for jobs, seeking out promotions, taking risks and following our dreams. And, most importantly, it’s about how, to truly get on, confidence is often much more important than competence. Yep, that way around. It jars a bit when you read it, doesn’t it, but I now believe it to be true. Believing in yourself and getting other people to do the same, is the very best thing you can do for your life, your career and your all-round success, and this is something which – as this article says – men are much better at doing than women. And the impact of that is huge.
Because what happens when you don’t have enough confidence to give something a try? NOTHING. Nothing at all. You might have all the intention and the want and enough of the skill to do a thing, but none of the confidence to actually make it happen so therefore it just won’t.
There are, of course, many, many people who buck the trend and there needs to be more of them – women who feel the fear and do it anyway, and who know that they are just as good and just as capable and just as deserving of opportunities as anybody else.
After reading this I realised just how much my own crippling fear was holding me back. A fear of rejection, of failure and, sometimes, just of speaking up and saying what I want in case it doesn’t work out. But how are you going to get it if you can’t even say it? Is that not just step one?
So thanks to this feature, I intend to make a change. If only I’d read it sooner. Less talk and more action (ok, fine, I will probably still talk a lot – I LOVE a good chat), and more just giving it a go instead of holding all my ideas close, waiting for someone to come round to my house and ask me to share them with the world, because I just don’t think that is going to happen (and anyway I live in London, I don’t answer my front door unless I’ve recently ordered a takeaway).
If you haven’t done so already, I very much encourage you to read the whole piece. If you see yourself here then why not join me in making a change, and if you don’t, please tell me how you’ve managed that. I’d genuinely love to know.
Thank goodness for the internet and it’s marvellous power to change the way we think with just one article. High on my list of aims is to one day write a thing that has that exact same effect. There, I admitted it. And now that I’ve said it, I’d better get on and do it.