This month I’m specifically addressing women. Do you play it safe in your career, choosing easy-to-reach goals? Maybe you tell yourself there are some things you’re just not good at and never will be, whether it’s mastering new software, creating impactful presentations or mentoring others. Were you a “bright girl” as a youngster?
Research shows that young girls who are smarter-than-average tend to believe their abilities are innate and can’t be changed, whereas young boys are more likely to believe they can learn something by persevering and re-doubling their efforts.
For instance, high-achieving girls are more likely to be praised for how smart they are. Boys are more typically given feedback that encourages them to try harder if they don’t understand something. Scientific research shows bright girls and boys interpret difficulty differently. If something is challenging, girls are quicker to doubt their ability and lose confidence, becoming less-adept learners.
For example, have you ever been charged with delivering a presentation to your team and done less than a stellar job? Did you decide in that moment to never volunteer or put yourself in a similar situation again?
You may be carrying around the subconscious belief that you don’t have the ability to grow and learn, and thus, you give up too quickly. Or you choose not to open yourself up for greater challenges that will force you to develop your skills because you believe you’re not smart enough. Or, you believe you “should” get it right the first go around. Studies prove that abilities such as intelligence and creativity can be expanded through effort and persistence. What to do?
It’s time to give yourself permission not to be perfect.
So ask yourself, what challenge would you undertake if you embraced the truth that through your efforts you could find success? Breaking your goal into smaller steps and creating triumphs along the way will build your confidence and keep you motivated to continue your quest. You don’t have to go it alone: Identify support systems, be it professional organizations, classes, mentors within your company or other available resources. It’s time to reclaim your confidence and see for yourself exactly what you’re capable of achieving.