Are You Confident Enough to Get Ahead?

July 22, 2014

Fort Wayne Women: How failure and risk-taking can boost your levels of confidence.

Failing builds confidence: many girls learn to avoid taking risks and making mistakes. This can occur when they leave school crammed full of interesting historical facts and elegant Spanish subjunctives, proud of their ability to study hard and get the best grades and determined to please. But somewhere between the classroom and the cubicle, the rules change, and they don’t realize it. They slam into a work world that doesn’t reward them for perfect spelling and exquisite manners. The requirements for adult success are different, and their confidence takes a beating. Being aware of this and hearing some statistics can help push girls into becoming confident, risk-taking women.

Did you know?

  • Women feel confident only when they are perfect. Or practically perfect. Studies show that women applied for promotion only when they met 100 percent of the qualifications. Men applied when they met 50 percent.
  • Overconfidence can still help you get ahead: those who displayed more confidence than competence were admired by the rest of the group and were awarded a high social status. The most confident people were considered the most beloved in the group and their overconfidence did not come across as narcissistic.
  • An example of the benefits of practicing confidence even when you’re still lacking a few qualifications can be found in a 2014 article from The Atlantic entitled "The Confidence Gap." which discusses two hypothetical employees, Rebecca (quiet and careful) and Robert (bursting with ideas, many of them wrong and dumb). And, of course, the “Roberts” of the work world are often the ones who get ahead, regardless of whether or not they’re the most qualified. However, they can be somewhat be admired for their lack of self-awareness, ability to loudly stumble onto one or two great ideas, and their lack of shame when pushing for a few not-so-good ideas.
  • Many psychologists now believe that risk taking, failure, and perseverance are essential to confidence-building.

It is important to consider taking away the best characteristics of each. Cutting back on the reserved quality of the Rebeccas, but remaining cautious and tactful can help us learn to walk this fine line. But, the bold and risk-taking part of Robert is important not only in our workplace, but also in our lives as well!

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