“The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance” by Katty Kay Notes and Review
This month, the Athletic Bookworms read “The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance—What Women Should Know” by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman—and frankly, for me, it was perfectly timed. (It’s like I pick the books, or something!)
Anyway, I really wanted to read something that would get me revved as I hit my first race of the season and tackled my fun-but-exhausting book launch of Shred Girls: Lindsay’s Joyride. And I was right—the book was a big motivator. Did I suddenly become a bastion of confidence? F no. I have probably hidden under the covers more this month than ever before because of how big everything was and felt. BUT… I was a lot more logical about it and have been slowly and steadily trying to keep myself pulled together, excited and motivated. So, what exactly did I learn? A few favorite parts:
You Gotta Believe
In the most basic terms, what we need to do is start acting and risking and failing, and stop mumbling and apologizing and prevaricating. It isn’t that women don’t have the ability to succeed; it’s that we don’t seem to believe we can succeed, and that stops us from even trying.
I’ve seen this in racing, felt it in racing + in most of my various endeavors. Luckily, it mostly hasn’t stopped me from trying… except if I get really honest and realize that things like writing the original Shred Girls and opting to self publish at first instead of chasing an agent or publisher mostly stemmed from a lack of belief in myself, versus a desire to self-publish. Obviously, it worked out and the book got picked up by a publisher, but I could have been a lot more proactive in the early days.
(Sidenote, one of the anecdotes in here is a conversation with Hilary Clinton, and it reads: “I was finally pushed,” she said, “by a high school women’s basketball coach, who told me, ‘Sure, you might lose. So what? Dare to compete, Mrs. Clinton. Dare to compete.’ ” If you are a fan of Doonesbury comics and can trace that love back to 1981, you might remember the OG Doonesbury book Dare to Be Great, Ms. Caucus. It’s amazingly similar situation in the comic, and also has a student telling her ‘You gotta believe,’ which popped into my head as I wrote this.)
We care about confidence
It’s confidence that sways people. We may not realize it but we all give confidence inordinate weight and we respect people who project it.
It’s not just this internal belief in yourself/woo-woo/self-help-y stuff: this $hit is vitally important. If we have confidence, we’re more likely to be taken seriously, and if the people around us believe in us, I think it can make us do better. (“Having talent isn’t merely about being competent; confidence is actually a part of that talent. You have to have it to be good at your job,” Kay writes later. This reminds me of Haley Smith’s amazing 3rd place podium at the Nove Mesto World Cup—she says that that race was the race she where she believed in herself and finally, her talent and hard work came to fruition. I think that self-belief was a huge part of it.)
Girls struggle here
Whether you need to hear this as an adult woman seeking her own confidence, or if you need to be reminded of it as a parent to a growing girl: “It is in school that girls are expected to keep their heads down, study quietly, and do as they’re told. We didn’t charge around the halls like wild animals, and we didn’t get into fights during recess, and today’s girls still provide a bit of reliable calm behavior for overstressed, overworked, and underpaid teachers. From our youngest years, we learn that cooperating like this seems to pay off.” And as I’ve said many times before as far as why I wrote Shred Girls, there’s the sport stat that is just freaking terrifying: “Fewer girls than boys participate in athletics, and many who do quit early. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is alarmed that girls are still six times as likely as boys to drop off their sports team.” And this one: “Eighty-one percent of ten-year-old girls are afraid of being fat. And only 2 percent of us actually think we are beautiful.”
You are unique and that’s great
“Confidence, and success, comes from playing to your distinctive strengths and values,” they write. And it’s probably what’s been my saving grace over the years. I’m not the most confident person—certainly wasn’t as a kid, and still struggle with it as an adult. But being different and playing to my strengths? That, I’ve always been capable of, likely because I’m lucky enough that my strengths in work and sport happen to intersect with my primary passions in life: reading + writing, being outside, running + riding. Because of that, I’ve been able to develop a certain amount of confidence in my work itself and my athletic abilities (such as they are) though the actual all-over me-as-a-human-not-me-as-a-XYZ self-confidence overall is definitely a work in progress. But this book has helped point me in the right direction.
To sum up, I’ll just end on this last quote:
“Think Less. Take Action. Be Authentic. Confidence is within reach.” – Katty Kay + Claire Shipman
A reminder…. If you have a Shred Girl in your life, have her read the author’s companion book for younger women: “The Confidence Code for Girls: Taking Risks, Messing Up, and Becoming Your Amazingly Imperfect, Totally Powerful Self”!
About the Confidence Code for Girls:
Girls can rule the world—all they need is confidence. This empowering, entertaining guide from the bestselling authors of The Confidence Code gives girls the essential yet elusive code to becoming bold, brave, and fearless. It’s a paradox familiar to parents everywhere: girls are achieving like never before, yet they’re consumed with doubt on the inside. Girls worry constantly about how they look, what people think, whether to try out for a sports team or school play, why they aren’t getting “perfect” grades, and how many likes and followers they have online. Katty Kay and Claire Shipman use cutting-edge science and research, as well as proven methods of behavioral change, to reach girls just when they need it the most—the tween and teen years. Packed with graphic novel strips; appealing illustrations; fun lists, quizzes, and challenges; and true stories from tons of real girls, The Confidence Code for Girls teaches girls to embrace risk, deal with failure, and be their most authentic selves.