Sometimes a question is so compelling it becomes a quest.
I had just turned down the leadership of an organization that taught confidence to women because I did not feel capable for the role. In retrospect, I, of course, can see the irony; but I couldn’t at the time. Now, looking around the room at the well educated, strong, attractive, articulate women–the same age as my daughter–sharing their struggle with low self-confidence I thought,
“If these women are lacking confidence I wonder about others around the world?”
“If these women are still wrestling with what I was 30 years ago, will my granddaughters face the same obstacles?”
In that moment it became personal. The stats and stories I have learned along the way have only served to fuel that passion!
If you struggle with low confidence, as I have, you are certainly not alone.
A study of female leaders in the US found 67% of participants polled said that they need more support building confidence to feel like they could be leaders.
How is that possible? Almost 7 of every 10 leaders didn’t feel they could be leaders? There are so many reasons for this and certainly it starts young.
Did you know that, according to psychologist Robin F. Goodman, “Girls’ self-esteem peaks when they are nine years old, then takes a nose dive” as there is “a shift in focus — the body becomes an all consuming passion and barometer of worth.”
Think of all the precocious little girls you know and envision them starting to shut down as they become socialized to believe that they must choose between having friends or opinions, being smart or being sexy, being quiet or being called bossy.
I began to talk to women: heads of small (and large) organizations, educational, health care and religious leaders, leaders starting out and leaders soon to retire. With some noteworthy exceptions, the conversations almost always validated my growing belief that women were drowning in the sea of high expectations, mixed messages and corresponding self-doubt.
Three decades of reading, researching and listening to women later, I now know that this matters so much more than I originally realized. We know that where men and women are serving shoulder-to-shoulder, families, organizations and communities are healthier. Around the world, levels of crime, terrorism, abuse, poverty and corruption go down – and availability of things like safe drinking water, education and health care go up.
There is such a high cost to women’s low confidence.
Enter the search for what makes us BRAVE.
Advocacy and Action.
Expanded Perspective, Skills and Influence.
Enter the journey to uncover how we can reclaim our own inner courage in ways that will positively influence the world around us, and the quest to discover how we can create environments where both men and women thrive.
 KPMG Women’s Leadership Study, 2015, p. 5.