“I don’t like to gamble, but if there’s one thing I’m willing to bet on, it’s myself.”
Needless to say, betting on herself has served Beyoncé well. If you’re like me, though, and so many other women, you often find yourself in a wrestling match with self-doubt.
What if you’re not as talented as you think?
What if people think you’re delusional?
What if you expose yourself as incompetent… or worse, inadequate?
So many what ifs.
Which is why betting on yourself ultimately requires taking a brave leap of self-trust over a chasm of self-doubt; choosing the path of faith over fear. Faith that you can figure it out as you go. Faith that you are truly talented. Faith that even if you trip and fall, that you’ll still be OK because you’ve got what it takes to pick yourself up and move on.
Many women struggle to muster that faith to take that leap—to risk the safety of where they are now for the possibilities they want most. In fact, a recent study found that only 43% of women are willing to take the risks in their career, and a lot of women have experienced fear of being exposed as a “fraud” (impostor syndrome).
Perhaps you are one of them.
Following her show-stopping performance at the Super Bowl, Thrive Global posted an interview with Jennifer Lopez where she talked about how she’d been plagued by self-doubt many times throughout her career. However, rather than give in to it, she channeled it to work harder. “I just kept going … and it started paying off,” she said. “But more than that, I started believing in myself, I started believing in the fact that I wasn’t an impostor, that I wasn’t a fake.”
Having worked with a diverse array of immensely talented women, time and time again I’ve marveled at how many have struggled (as I have) to fully believe in themselves.
Of course, apart from narcissists, no one is immune to self-doubt and everyone has moments where they second-guess whether they have with it takes to overcome their challenges and achieve their ambitions. Yet as studies show, women tend to doubt themselves more and back themselves less than the men around us.
It begins early. By the age of 5, girls are less likely than boys to believe that they can be “really really smart.” By middle school, girls have lower expectations for what they can achieve in their professional lives. And even women who are highly confident in their ability to rise to the same heights as their male peers experience a decline in confidence within a few years of entering the workforce.
While women tend to be less comfortable with the fake-it-till-you-make-it approach, there is little substitute for building confidence beyond daring to defy our doubts and act with the confidence we wished we had. It’s by taking action amid our doubts that we dilute the power they have over us and amplify our sense of self-efficacy, self-trust and self-belief.
All of which takes a hearty dose of courage, or betting on yourself. Like any bet, there’s no money-back guarantee you’ll land the jackpot—the promotion, pay raise, date or gig at the Super Bowl. However, not betting on yourself 100% guarantees that you won’t.
A study found that to build confidence, we must learn to “doubt our doubts.” This doesn’t mean that all doubts are bad or wrong. It means we need to discern between the doubts that are serving us and those that aren’t.
Which is why you need to ask yourself this question: Who could you be without this doubt?
If your answer is someone who is remotely more confident, connected and successful than you are right now, then perhaps it’s time to take that leap and do the very thing your doubts have been urging you not to do.
Having had to defy my own doubts countless times, I’ve learned that the best way to find the courage to conquer the negative noise in our heads is by embracing our vulnerability, staring down our fear and stepping right through it. That is, to “train the brave” within us; building up our courage muscles in small ways, in big ways, every single day.
Saying no. Saying yes. Defying a social norm. Volunteering to lead. Offering feedback. Soliciting feedback. Voicing dissent. Setting a boundary. Confiding a struggle. Asking for help. Offering help. Declaring a goal. Enlisting support. Trying something new.
Your doubts will keep you from ever discovering just how capable, deserving and talented you truly are. So bet on yourself. Defy those doubts. And in the end, you’ll be so glad you did.
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