Men lead with confidence. Women lead with competence.
In fact, studies show that men vie for promotions, initiate salary negotiations (and ask for bigger increases when they do), and run for office with far less prompting, if any, than women.
And why is that? If you ask a woman whether or not she is ready for the promotion, or deserves a salary increase, or should run for office, she will tell you all the reasons that she isn’t yet competent enough. She will use her competence to determine her level of confidence. But, if you ask a man, he will use his confidence as a lens through which to rate his competence. And, we know how that story usually ends, with our politics and our corporations dominated by (sometimes questionably competent) men.
So, what are we to do about it? How can we get farther, make more money, become the change we wish to see in the world if we are too nervous, too scared, too full of self-doubt, or just plain too downright honest with ourselves about how we imagine that we stack up to the competition?
I like to ask myself a simple question when faced with a crisis of confidence. And, no, it’s not “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?” That is an “I Wish” question. Not only does it get you nowhere, it actually reinforces all the things you have already told yourself that you can’t do.
Instead, I want you to ask a better question of yourself, an “I Can” question: “If I were the very best version of me, what would I do in this situation?” This question works because it forces an analysis of the skills you’d be using, the emotions you’d be feeling, the muscles you’d be flexing. And, before you know it, you rise to embody that very best version of yourself and remember that you are actually more competent than you remembered or were willing to give yourself credit. This lens puts your confidence on the front burner and lets you see your competence for what it really, truly is: everything you need and more.