Monday Mentorship with Justyna McMillan provided me with a powerful reminder of the importance of self-confidence. I hear from women every week who say that their experiences in the work place and community continue to be defined by that dichotomy of warmth and connection versus competence and credibility.
Justyna made me think about how important it is to believe in yourself and to believe that whether or not you can do something has nothing to do with whether you've done it before. She noted that getting that next step position is to some extent about the ability to "sell yourself and sell your skills."
Justyna further shared that one thing that has supported her journey is that others recognized her "experience, interest, curiosity and capacity" even when she didn't have direct experience in that new endeavor. We all need those first chances to prove that we can ably tackle a new challenge. I'm guessing that Justyna's supporters and mentors recognized that confidence in her, which conveys a clear message of capacity and competence.
When she shared that perspective on the importance of self-confidence, I immediately thought about something my dad taught me about it. In tenth grade, I was campaigning for class president. I was fully sure of my skill set, abilities, interest in, and commitment to the job. Yet just before the day of elections, I became very nervous about voting for myself. This was in the days of paper/pencil "secret ballots" that would be passed out, marked, and passed back in during the homeroom block.
I was convinced that if someone saw my ballot and observed that I had voted for myself that I would be seen as arrogant or stuck up. (You know how that goes in high school). So I went home with the election scheduled for the next morning and asked my dad what I should do. I explained the situation, my concern, and asked him whether I should vote for myself or one of the other candidates.
He thought for a moment and I still remember his exact words, even after more than twenty-five years. He looked at me and said:
"Well, Renea. . . the way I see it is if you can't vote for yourself,
how can you expect anybody else to?"
Sometimes we forget that having confidence is not just about sending a message to others; it's about sending a message to ourselves.
The next time you're doubting a choice or an opportunity, remember to vote for yourself.