“When it comes to confidence, knowledge is power, but not quite as you think” – Core Confidence

Many women have worked hard with a deep belief that to have more confidence, they need to know more. Unfortunately this is a problem. In chapter 3 of Core Confidence, we unpack this drive to know everything. The underlying fear is not knowing it all, which can feel overwhelming, and so we try to hold it together by learning more and working harder. There is another way – a path to your inner resource of Core Confidence. By cultivating a growth mindset and trusting your expertise, you can transform your way of thinking and be equipped to meet the fast-paced, demanding dynamics of the contemporary workplace.

Expertise as a paradox

Knowledge is definitely important, yet it’s not enough to sustain confidence on its own. Learning everything you can within the time you have and sharing your ideas with others is a far more sustainable way of enhancing your confidence. And so much easier than trying to have all the solutions yourself.

The cost of relying on knowledge

Waiting to know everything 

Too often, we see and hear about female professionals curtailing their contribution in meetings because they are not the ‘expert’, even when they can:

  • Offer valuable insights
  • Have interesting questions to expand the discussion
  • Are across the latest research in their discipline
  • Are respected individuals in their organisations

It’s time to challenge this way of thinking. With inner confidence, women can look at their role and expertise under a new lens, making it easier to speak up and add value to conversations, even when they feel like they’re ‘not ready’.

Wanting to know everything

While acquiring knowledge is important for career advancement, wanting to know everything will most likely hinder your progression, leaving you feeling stuck and in a rut. The false sense of security associated with knowledge acquisition can result in consequences, including:

1.  Silence or an inability to perform

Wanting to know everything may impede your ability to perform and contribute in meetings or activities.

2. Arrogance

If you believe knowing everything will protect you from change and guarantee success, arrogance may take over.

3. Anxiety 

We often see the belief that not enough knowledge translates into I’m not enough, sparking self-doubt and anxiety. 

The importance of adaptability

In the 21st century, information is ubiquitous. This means subject matter expertise has become a ticket to play rather than a pure advantage. Although you do need to know your stuff, what you need to know could change instantly. 

With technology so heavily integrated into society and work, adaptability is key. Core skills that are required for so many jobs today are constantly changing to meet the demands of society. We know that waiting and wanting to know everything before you act is, in fact, holding you back. This is why it is so important to have the confidence to believe in yourself and your capabilities. You can use your strengths, education, personal and technical skills to propel yourself forward with the right strategies.

Why you need a growth mindset

We are huge fans of Carol Dweck’s work on growth mindset. As you may already know, most of us tend to either have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.

In the context of knowing everything, those with a fixed mindset tend to feel they have to prove their expertise and talent. All decisions are guided by the thought of being evaluated for what they already have and already know.

A growth mindset is when you focus on what’s possible – where to go from here? These people are free from the constraint of having to know it all – they know not always having the right answers pushes them to grow. 

How do I develop a growth mindset?

You need to let go of the need to be right. This often begins with addressing the underlying fear of failure, shame, or embarrassment. Find out more about developing a growth mindset

How do you shift from needing to know it all?

Once you let go of your need to know it all, you no longer need to be right or prove yourself in every situation. It is human nature to want to prove yourself and defend that position; however, there is another way; you can experiment and learn from trying new things, even risk getting something wrong and learning from the experience! This may feel confronting at first, but the powerful personal and professional development that occurs makes it so worthwhile

Letting go of the need to be right

1. Be curious

Seek diverse and dissenting perspectives – lay all the different views out on the table and acknowledge the strengths they each carry.

2. Be prepared

Letting go of previously held opinions can be challenging.

3. Be open

Ask yourself and others, “what other perspectives could be valid?”

There’s a sweet spot between taking a stand and becoming defensive, and it occurs in the space of letting go of the need to be right

Moving forward

To develop personally and professionally, the best opportunity lies in your willingness to try new things, take on new perspectives, speak up, take risks and most importantly, get it wrong (over and over again!) Know your stuff and be OKAY with not knowing everything.