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Raise Your Confidence Quotient

Posted March 5, 2019 • Change,Emotional Intelligence • by Jennifer Goldman-Wetzler, Ph.D.

In The Confidence Code, best-selling authors Katty Kay and Claire Shipman show women how to increase their confidence. This is important, since even when women’s competence– or ability– exceeds that of their male counterparts, women’s confidence — or belief in themselves– falters.

Having enjoyed The Confidence Code, I expected Kay and Shipman’s newest book, The Confidence Code for Girls, to provide me with insights on how to raise my ten-year-old daughter. But I’ve ended up taking just as many notes to help myself and my clients raise our own confidence quotients.

In The Confidence Code for Girls, Kay and Shipman suggest that being in action, taking risks, and learning to be okay with failure– as opposed to ruminating and overthinking while being frozen in non-action– are key to building confidence.

They write that the more confidence you have, the more confidence you build; in other words, confidence is self-generating. 

They also discuss the impediments to building confidence, including perfectionism. 

Kay and Shipman identify three aspects of perfectionism that prevent girls from achieving the results they desire:

  • Not being able to celebrate accomplishments
  • Not being able to take a risk, for fear of failing
  • Procrastinating on new projects, for fear of not being able to do a perfect job

Do you, or does anyone you work or live with, display these aspects of perfectionism?

Kay and Shipman suggest the following antidotes:

  • Know your purpose. Why are you working on a project, or aiming for a certain goal? Don’t let seeking perfection or approval be your motivation for doing things. Let your own purpose be your guide.
  • Be flexible. Is your goal realistic, given the constraints you’re under? Consider re-setting your goal so it matches the reality of the situation you’re in.
  • Aim for “good enough.” Learn to stop working when your work is good enough rather than perfect. You’ll save valuable time that could be spent in other worthy ways.
  • Be honest with others about your limitations. If you’re feeling pressured by others to be perfect, let them know what you can reasonably achieve, given the reality of the constraints you’re dealing with. 

One of the most compelling parts of Shipman and Kay’s chapter on perfectionism is when they point out that perfection “is literally an impossible standard.” 

Being human, by definition, means not being perfect. This may be a forgone conclusion for some, but in my experience, it remains a radical idea for others– even those of us who have been living on this planet for a long time.

If perfection is impossible to achieve, then it seems obvious that seeking to: create a perfect work product; have a perfect day; exercise until you have the perfect body; or create the perfect life are not goals worth shooting for. 

Instead, what about seeking to: create a work product you feel proud of; have a great day; exercise so you feel healthy and strong; and create an adventurous, fun or rewarding life?

What are your non-perfect goals?