In my last book review about women and confidence, I shared some provocative research revealed in The Confidence Code. I was struck by the findings about the genetic and socially-induced inclination for women to ruminate and how undermining rumination is to the development of resilience and confidence. Action was the authors’ antidote to this tendency! But the scope of their book did not include ideas for taking action, or answer the question,”This is all great, but what action makes sense for me?”
I kept returning to the content of a book I read 18 months ago written by Barbara Roche entitled, Commit to Confidence: 30 Strategies to Help Women Step Up and Stand Out. Roche’s book offers relevant, practical action steps required to gain self-awareness and realize achievements (and in my mind, it’s equally applicable for women and men). Commit to Confidence is organized into five areas of professional confidence cultivation: personal presence, landing your dream job, speaking in public, persuading others and enhancing personal brand. Each section includes context, current thought leadership, and data for why and how crises of confidence show up frequently in these areas, especially for women. Then, most importantly, it offers steps to take to move us forward to the “how” of integrating the words, music and dance of our professional lives. Readers can dive into specific chapters that reflect areas where confidence development is needed at whatever stage we find ourselves in today. Here are my takeaways:
The Power of Coaching Roche’s energy hums off the page and you almost feel her personal encouragement and insight urging you forward. It’s easy to see how she has made her mark in executive coaching: she’s lively, intelligent and ends each section with a series of exercises that personalize and contextualize YOU in this critical conversation. Roche puts herself in the equation with her zest for quotes, metaphors, humor and real-life scenarios. I particularly liked her whistle icon that signals it is time for a coaching session (and for the reader to start writing!).
The Necessity of Self-Awareness You write, describe, uncover and admit where you shine, where you are your own worst enemy and what next steps you will take to translate this awareness into action. Moving from knowledge to action is a key step in any development and one of the hardest cement blocks to overcome. These palatable and manageable writing sessions aren’t always easy, but offer the opportunity for insight and application.
Two coaching sessions that I found particularly worthwhile were a) uncovering our back story and b) enhancing our personal brand.
A. Roche mines the work of Deepak Chopra who uncovered the way our back stories – the negative experiences that translate to the stories we tell ourselves – undermine and sabotage our success. I answered the nine questions in this coaching section and realized that the most important question asked, “Is this emotional back story still true?”, was a resounding, “No!” Wow! Time to kill that old “story” and move on.
B. The coaching section on enhancing personal brand was creative and fun. I chose six adjectives to describe the essence of my personality, values and beliefs and then further distilled the six words into an actual brand statement. Mine led to, “I want to be known for being creatively collaborative so my clients can deliver meaningful insights to completely engaged audiences.” I still have three more steps to finalize this draft into a brand statement, but I liked the process of getting to this first iteration.
Attend the Workshop When Barbara first published the book, I attended one of her Commit to Confidence workshops and I found it very illuminating. It’s always great to be in a room full of intelligent, motivated and thoughtful women. We all had breakthroughs and engagement, found support and insight. You and your organization would benefit from this book and workshop. I will end with what Barbara wrote on my book’s inscription, “Let’s continue building each other’s confidence.”
Full Disclosure: Barbara Roche is my business partner. She has a cadre of executive coaching, leadership development and professorial commitments outside of our collaboration. I know how long she considered writing this book and I celebrate her achievement and am happy to include her writing in my book review series.