Book Reaction: The Confidence Code

Quick Overview

Katty Kay & Claire Shipman previously partnered together to write Womenomics. This time around, these journalists enter back into the fray with a study of confidence - what it means, what it’s made of and how we (especially women) can get more. They paint a picture and tell the stories of experts and confident women to understand the relationships between confidence, being female and success.

What struck me as important and/or interesting:

  • Yes, there is a confidence gap separating men and women in the workplace. Men generally rate their performance 30% better than it is. Women don’t do this, and as a result, take fewer risks, and as a result, are less likely to reap the rewards of those risks/opportunities. 
  • I loved the question posted on page 34, “To put it bluntly - does one have to be an asshole to be confident?”  A discussion of confidence in the workplace surfaces a lot of the issues that come to mind when thinking about the spectrum of professional women. I’m making this more about my ideas than the authors’ so you can see it really got my head the first time I saw Interstellar and contemplated wormholes. Some thoughts I wrestled with…Why don’t I have several female professional role models, that lead the way that I want to lead? How do you succeed in the gendered workspace while trying to change it from within? Where do I exist on the masculine/feminine divide professionally? I’m loud and aggressive, and compromising and smiley all at the same time. I want to be liked so maybe I shouldn’t ask for what I want. 
  • The advice around how to develop confidence had a lot of overlap with advice I’ve heard since becoming an entrepreneur. Experiment! Start small! Take chances! Trust your experiences and find opportunities to put yourself out there! … Basically, I see it like a muscle that you have to work out in the gym: the more you force yourself to do things that require confidence, the more your confidence will grow.

What I’m doing with the info:

I want to continue to be part of conversations with other women about what it means to be a woman in the workplace yesterday, today, tomorrow. I actually picked this book up because I was invited to join a professional women’s book club so here’s to more of those!

That said, I can’t honestly say I’m personally doing anything differently, but it was incredibly reinforcing of themes that have been bouncing around in my head for a while. When I’m looking for reasons to try something new and put myself out there, understanding where I am on the confidence spectrum is helpful in reframing my self-talk.

Kay and Shipman talk about that too. Negative automatic thoughts (NATs) are the self-confidence destroying nasty thoughts we’re all too familiar with. For me, these can include…”What’s the point of going to this event, I don’t know anyone there?” “What if nobody shows up for the workshop? Women don’t want to spend money on this.” “I can’t do that, I’ve never done it before.” or even, “I’m not a runner.”

Reframing these NATs is essential to giving myself the grace and power to try. I’m reminded of the value of regularly keeping my gratitude journal. I’m inspired to share positively reinforcing language with Stephanie on a regular basis, to empower her… and to ask for the same thing for myself.

At the end of the day, this book has been helpful in reminding me to lift myself and others up. Let’s do this!!

Fierce Leader Double Click:

The C in Fierce stands for Courage, but it could just as easily stand for confidence. Consider:

  • Where are you least confident, or where do you have the greatest opportunity to take a leap forward?
  • How would more confidence in that area change your life?
  • What is a small thing you could do in that space that would move you forward a teensy bit (worry about making the leap later)?

Quote to remember:

“It occurred to us that genuinely confident women, perhaps genuinely confident people, don’t feel that they have to hide anything. They are who they are, warts and all, and if you don’t like, or think it is weak to show vulnerability, too bad for you.” (p.133)

- Kara Davidson, Co-Founder, wolf & heron

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