Studies propose that women tend to display lower self-confidence than men across almost all achievement situations.[i] Literature indicates that although low self-confidence is indeed a common and theoretically weakening problem among women, they are not lower in self-confidence than men in all accomplishments.[ii] Instead, it is debated that the level of self-confidence depends on many situational variables. Therefore, future research must more precisely identify the variables that influence women’s self-confidence in order to obtain proper statistics.[iii]
Fortunately, low self-confidence is not a life sentence. Self-confidence is a quality one can develop, but building it takes time. Self-confidence is an attitude that helps you accomplish your goals. It’s about having a positive mind-set with realistic views. A self-confident woman would have a general sense of her own ability to control her life – to go after what she desires and plans. Self-confidence means that even if things don’t go your way, you still have faith that eventually, somehow, they will.[iv]
“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” Albert Einstein
So, just pick a goal, something you really want to achieve, and take an honest look at your weaknesses – not to feel less confident, but to determine exactly what you need to work on. By carefully analyzing any limiting belief that holds you back, you can escape the trap of negative views. Negativity can influence your imagination and kill your creativity regardless of your personal skills or actual limitations.
Then work. Celebrate small successes. Assess your performance. Keep moving. It is important to take steps in the new and exciting directions that will certainly develop in the future. As you proceed, you will experience a feeling of sincere confidence that will never leave you again – simply because you have earned it! Please remember that feeling when you have doubts and stop progressing, because your mind has set a trap for you. Can you recognize this wall you have built within yourself and make it fall? Of course, you can!
“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” Vincent van Gogh
The world is full of opportunities, but sometimes too much thinking can get in the way. Assumptions, Beliefs, Comparisons, Desires, Expectations and Ideals are the 6 mental traps that could ruin your life if they go unchallenged.[v] They are inadequate ways of handling the world and oneself… thinking that being a woman ties you up and prevents you from progressing. Living in your mental traps is like living in a parallel world. Your world views are contaminated with miserable negativity that creates unrealistic and false thoughts about your own capacities.
So how can we effectively avoid these mental traps? One of the very effective ways is attending capacity building workshops which can help to build up self-esteem and -confidence.
In line with that and out of my own belief that every woman can be an active contributor to the development of actual capabilities of other women, I have given a talk at the Springboard – Women’s Development Programme of the British Council in Egypt that was addressing women engineers in the oil industry. This field is generally perceived as a men’s world.
Photo: Ghada Bassioni during the presentation given within the Springboard Programme by the British Council at Baker Hughes Facilities, Cairo, Egypt, 2014.
Here are a few tips I mentioned during this presentation to create a paradigm shift by building on self-confidence:
- Focus on your mental power. If you set out from being good at something, you will potentially become great! All you need is to develop these talents you have and invest time in them. In contrast, if you get too absorbed in worrying about your weaknesses, you are wasting time and energy.
- Focus on the present. Yesterday is past and it is irrelevant whether it was good or bad. It’s over. It cannot be changed. Moreover, don’t think too much about the future, either. You cannot predict the future. But you can impact what is happening right now. Give today your full devotion and greatest power.
- Set priorities. Look after your agenda! Be selective about what you do because you cannot do everything. Don’t fall into the trap of lacking direction. Define your priorities and use your time to undertake them.
- Focus on your outcomes. Don’t get tired or frustrated when the tasks are difficult and time-consuming. It helps to remind yourself of the reason behind what you are doing and the drive you need to accomplish what you have started.
- Focus on your impact. Be different. Be willing to challenge the norm. Use your potential to make the world a better place.
Photo: Springboard Programme by the British Council at Baker Hughes Facilities, Cairo, Egypt, 2014.
Helen Keller was a wonderful example of a woman who followed her passions and pursued her goals, despite being deaf and blind. She didn’t give up and tried to understand her surroundings through smell, touch and taste. She studied geography, French, arithmetic and other subjects and became a famous writer. She summarizes her ongoing motivation with this encouraging sentence: “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”
So, let your own wall fall, explore yourself and make it happen! We, women, are very capable of reaching our goals!
[i] Kirkwood, Jodyanne, Is a lack of self‐confidence hindering women entrepreneurs?, International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship, Vol. 1 Issue: 2, 118-133, 2009.
[ii] McGraw, K. M., What’s good for the goose is not good for the gander, Publication, American Behavioral Scientist, Volume: 27, 357, 1984.
[iii] Lenney, Ellen, Women’s self-confidence in achievement settings. Psychological Bulletin, Vol 84(1), 1-13, 1977.