NAWBO Chicago, Let’s Talk Honestly About Confidence

Sep 14, 2016






Claire Shipman, co-author of The Confidence Code, a regular contributor to Good Morning America and other national broadcasts for ABC News, and keynote speaker for the 2016 NAWBO Chicago Achievement Luncheon May 2

NAWBO Chicago, Let’s Talk Honestly About Confidence

When I first spoke with NAWBO Chicago President Michele Katz and Achievement Luncheon Chair Ginna Ryan, I was thrilled to learn that the group has been focused for a year on the topic of confidence. I’ve come to believe, after years of focus on women’s leadership, that confidence is a crucial missing ingredient and a real game-changer for all of us.  Hence The Confidence Code, a book I co-authored with Katty Kay.



The subject really grew out of our first book, Womenomics. Katty and I noticed, as we conducted interviews with extremely successful women, that they would often express a certain hesitation about their abilities. They might laughingly confess they didn’t know how they’d achieved what they had or suggest they weren’t sure they were really qualified. Since we’d often felt that way ourselves, we understood it, but when we kept hearing it, we thought it was worth digging into. And, in fact, we found out that what had always seemed to be harmless or “natural” feelings, were in fact a manifestation of a widespread lack of confidence among women, specifically in the workplace. 


We were hooked. We embarked on a long and often tangled journey through the definitions of, origins of, and the making of confidence. There are so many things confidence is always confused with — we call them confidence cousins: self-esteem, optimism, self-efficacy, self-compassion. Confidence means many things to many people, it turns out. But what we filtered out, after all of our research, is that confidence has an element of action about it. Indeed, one academic put it in very clear terms for us. “Confidence is the stuff that turns thoughts into action,” according to Dr. Richard Petty of Ohio State University. That action might not be running a marathon, or storming into your boss’s office. It can be the action of making a decision. But it’s the frame of mind that allows us to believe we are able to do what we set out to do. And you can see why that frame of mind would make action of all sorts more likely. We would also come to learn it’s a virtuous circle. The process of taking action, and failing, and then mastering, is what builds confidence as well. You can also see why, therefore, experience matters. The more experience we have taking action, learning, and mastering things the more we create a frame of mind that says we think we can.


There is much, much more to the science of confidence did you know, for example, that rats can also suffer from a lack of confidence? But despite all we found about why our brains work the way they do, the headline is that everyone can choose confidence. It’s hard, deliberative work building self-assurance but it is a choice. You can choose to walk across the room and introduce yourself to that interesting looking stranger or choose not to. You can choose to raise your hand in that meeting or choose not to. It’s not easy, but confidence-building is a decision.

I look forward to speaking with you more next week about confidence and meeting many of you who are innovating, leading and growing your companies in the beautiful city of Chicago. See you at the NAWBO Chicago Achievement Luncheon!


To register for the 2016 NAWBO Chicago Achievement Luncheon please click here.

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