Success Tip for Women: Own the Illusion of Confidence

When tennis great Roger Federer struts onto center court, he exudes confidence. His opponents fear him before the first ball is struck. Those who follow or play sports know that less than 30 percent of winning is about athletic ability. The rest? It’s the “illusion of confidence.”

Extraordinary men and women cloak themselves in this illusion of confidence. Here’s what I mean: even if they aren’t feeling inwardly confident or aren’t actually sure that they can do the job, they don’t let the outside world know. Fear of failure is rare among successful businesspeople in general and especially among successful businessmen.

In his book What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, Marshall Goldsmith observes, “All of us in the workplace delude ourselves about our achievements, our status, and our contributions.”

He continues to tell us how we:

• Overestimate our contributions to a project.
• Take credit, partial or complete, for successes that truly belong to others.
• Standing among our peers.
• Exaggerate our projects’ impact on net profits because we discount the real and hidden costs built into them

This description does not fit many women I know but it sure describes successful men. Goldsmith calls these characteristics “delusions of success.” I call them illusions of confidence. Successful people and especially men always believe they have the capability within themselves to make positive things happen.

However, many women feel that they have to be perfect before accepting a new job, assignment or promotion. It’s not good enough for us to attend class and study for the test. We have to know what all the questions are before we enter the exam room. We doubt our capabilities and this hurts our ability to advance in the workplace. We’re not playing by the same rules as the guys.

So, in these tough economic times, try to cloak yourself in the illusion of confidence. I’m not suggesting that you be deceitful or compromise your ethics. I’m merely urging you to have the confidence to take the tough job or go for the promotion. If you’re reaching beyond your comfort zone, you might not know all of the test questions before you enter the room. It’s OK to learn on the job – you can and will succeed. The guys have been proving that for years!

By Erin Wolf

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