The other day I watched my 11-year-old step onto the stage at her music recital.

She had two performances: one voice, one piano.

The auditorium was full of expectant parents and other students. A generous, forgiving audience to be sure.

They were all there to watch their children and their grandchildren, their sisters and their brothers, their students, and their friends perform their pieces.

And it was nerve-wracking.

I swear I could feel Kate’s heart pumping inside my own chest as she mustered the courage to stand up there and sing and play what had heretofore only been performed in our basement or within the confines of her bedroom when she didn’t think anyone else could hear her.

Today was the day she would sing OUT LOUD.

And it took Courage. It took Bravery and it took CONFIDENCE.

It takes courage, bravery and confidence to have your voice heard in front of an audienceClick To Tweet

I wondered what was going through her head and how she was giving herself the courage she needed to do her best in front of all these people.

How do you muster up the courage to be confident enough to figuratively or literally sing your song OUT LOUD in front of EVERYONE to see?

Interestingly, I’m currently reading “The Confidence Code” by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman. It turns out that women are genetically wired to be naturally less confident than men. Women don’t have as much confidence as men when it comes to, well, almost anything.

According to Kay and Shipman, men tend to just go for it, whatever “it” is, whether they have all the facts or not.

Women are more likely to have a more measured approach to trying new things. They are more likely to research it, prepare, practice and go through a lot of internal self-talk before they have the courage to step up and be seen.

This was even evident at my 11-year-old daughter’s concert. The girls, as a whole, were clearly putting their best foot forward. Their hair was done, their dresses neatly pressed and they were visibly trying their hardest.

With the boys, you got the distinct impression that some of them were just “winging it.” Sure they may screw up, sure they may forget a line, but they would just laugh it off and keep going.

Honestly, I don’t think the audience enjoyed their performances any less if they weren’t as “perfect” as the girls.

There’s something about just going for it that is really appealing.

Here are some examples of how women tend to show up as less confident than men. According to Kay and Shipman:

  • Half of women feel self-doubt in their careers vs. one-third of men
  • Women believe they are 20% less valuable than men believe they are
  • Women speak 75% less than men do when there are more men in the room
  • Men consistently overestimate their abilities and performance while women routinely underestimate both.
  • Men apply for jobs when they feel they have 60% of the qualifications while women rarely apply unless they feel they have 100% of the qualifications. Did you hear that? MEN APPLY FOR JOBS WHEN THEY ONLY HAVE 60% OF THE QUALIFICATIONS! Couple that with research that indicates men get paid 35% more than women on average, for equal work, and you have a gender gap of competence AND pay. I am left shaking my head. Yet I digress…

The Confidence Code goes on to explain that even though men are genetically wired to naturally feel more confident than women, we can actually change that.

Confidence is both a feeling and a belief system – and we can change both.

Confidence is both a feeling and a belief system – and we can change both.Click To Tweet

Here are 10 ways you can boost your confidence today!

1. Ruminate less

Women do a lot more ruminating than men – did I do that right? What did they think? Should I have explained that differently? What if I screw up?? Women have an instinct to dwell on problems rather than solutions. GET OUT OF YOUR HEADS LADIES! And just do it. See what happens! And bingo, you will appear more confident by just being action-oriented. Which brings me to point #2.

2. Take action

Action portrays confidence. Inaction does not. Even if you make the wrong decision, action is better than inaction.

3. De-personalize your setbacks

Women have the instinct to over-personalize setbacks which undermines women’s confidence. We are more likely to take the blame for something that happened vs. blame the environment or some other source outside ourselves. The reality is, it’s not about YOU. People are rarely thinking about you (sorry ladies!) and what you did to make something happen or not happen.

4. Stop caring what other people think

Women tend to want to be liked and to please others. Men, well, often just don’t care.

5. Let perfection go

So what if it isn’t perfect? Let it go! Women are more likely to want things to be perfect before they will let the universe — or even their co-workers – see their work. Men are much more likely to have a “good enough” mentality and just go for it. Men estimate, women calculate. It is far better to say something rather than wait for the perfect words.

6. Brush away the negative thoughts

Women are more likely to listen to that little voice inside our heads that says we can’t do something. To push that voice aside, notice when you have a negative thought and write it down. Then use logic to beat that sucker into the ground and out of your head.

7. Stop making it about YOU!

Women tend to focus more on themselves when they are having a crisis of confidence. If we step out of the “me” syndrome and focus more on all the others we are trying to help with our actions (or lack thereof), then we are more likely to execute. Women thrive on the “we;” the companionship of others; the power of togetherness. When you tell yourself you are speaking on behalf of a group of people, instead of just on behalf of you, you are more likely to speak up with confidence. Try it!

8. Shine the light on what you’re doing RIGHT

Women tend to shine the spotlight on what is going wrong and what we’re NOT doing. What if we turned that spotlight off and only turned it on when we are proud of our accomplishments? Be a star in your own production and focus on what you are moving forward and what you have to bring to the table. Own your accomplishments and accept compliments. You deserve it!

9. Practice confidence

What does confidence feel like? “People who succeed aren’t always naturals, they are doers,” say Kay and Shipman.

'People who succeed aren’t always naturals, they are doers' Kay and ShipmanClick To Tweet

Be willing to practice and to learn. These two tricks are natural confidence boosters. The more you do, the more you will achieve, and the more you will feel confident that you can do it again. The thing to do is to START and PRACTICE.

10. Be grateful

Yup. New research shows that gratitude is one of the keys to happiness and an optimistic mindset. Believe and be grateful for the kind words people say about you. It will transform how you feel about yourself and others and will give you the confidence to step into new situations in a positive way. The next time you receive a compliment, instead of launching into your laundry list of all the reasons why you don’t deserve the thanks, say “thank you” and own it.

You can be the confident woman you want to be.

Do you have any more success tips for practicing confidence and putting your best foot forward more of the time? I’d love to hear! Please share in the comments below.

Susan Elford

Alignment Equation

Susan Elford is a Leadership Coach and Business Mentor who especially loves to work with women who want it all: a fulfilling career or business while living a full and satisfying life. Through powerful career coaching and business mentorship to get their career or business to the next level, Susan helps her clients get real about their strengths and celebrate and promote them so they get more of what they want: success at work; success in business & success in life.


Get clear about what’s right for you through a combination of questions, resources and empowerment with the Alignment Equation. Plus receive my biweekly newsletter designed for today’s busy woman to feel seen, understood, heard.

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