Unpacking the Confidence Code, Part 1 – Developing Confidence Together

Earlier this year, ten of the women in our Grand Rapids office came together to read and discuss The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self Assurance—What Women Should Know by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman.

Why This Book?

Kay & Shipman’s book is a well-researched, comprehensive, readable journey into the topic of confidence, especially as it applies to women. They cover the neuroscience and genetics behind what makes people confident, and they share some sobering information about the behavioral differences between men and women in this area.

They also share inspiring stories and interviews from women leaders in politics, sports, the military, and the arts, showing the different ways these women have manifested confidence in their careers and their lives. And they explore how parenting can influence confidence in children.

Ultimately, they share the empowering message that developing confidence isn’t as complex as one might initially think:

When we embarked on this project, the “problem” of our lack of confidence loomed large thematically… As journalists, we were exhilarated by the puzzle; as women, we were gloomy. Our early research churned out stories and statistics that seemed hard to battle, an outlook that could take generations to shift… But as we deconstructed confidence and picked painstakingly through the scientific and the social and the practical findings, we started to see some glimmers…we found plenty of nuggets that had been overlooked, unexamined, or simply unearthed. We tested them and prodded them… until we were certain which rocks were pay dirt. Those became our path to creating confidence—our code—and we’ve boiled it down to the very basics: Think Less. Take Action. Be Authentic. Confidence is within reach. The experience of it can be addictive. And its greatest rewards go well beyond workplace achievements or outward success.

The book was enjoyable—I picked up a few tips, learned some interesting science, and discovered some new heroes. But the greatest benefit was the springboard it provided for introspection and conversation among the women of Atomic.

How to Hold a “Confidence Code” Book Club

The Confidence Code lends itself especially well to discussion groups, and starting a group doesn’t require a giant effort. Gather some friends or colleagues, choose a time to meet, and get reading!

We suggest working through the material two chapters at a time, as we did. Our group met over the lunch hour, every two weeks, to discuss what we had read.

The meeting format is simple: The discussion facilitator should start with a reminder that the discussion should be safe. Stories shared should be kept within confidence, and interpreted in the most charitable light, if you’re not sure.

From there, you can kick off the conversation with a question related to the material at hand, or something as broad as, “What stood out to you in the readings this week?” For our group, that prompt was enough to get the ball rolling enough to easily fill an hour.

As the facilitator, I tried to come prepared with two to four highlights I wanted to hit, or questions to stoke the conversation if it died down. But typically, I didn’t need to use them.

Spreading the reading and meetings out over eight weeks allowed us each time to reflect on the material and integrate it into our lives, share our stories, encourage one another, and even observe some growth in ourselves and each other as we worked our way through the book. I work with over a dozen smart, insightful, interesting women. Whenever we come together, regardless of the occasion, I leave feeling happier and more enriched.

Continuing the Conversation

I was inspired by my colleagues’ stories and perspectives about how they have developed (and are continuing to grow) the confidence to succeed both personally and professionally, in our challenging field of software consulting.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll continue the conversation by sharing our reactions to the book and our own confidence stories in a series of posts here on Atomic Spin.

  1. Developing Confidence Together
  2. Exploring the Confdence Gap
  3. Defining Confidence
  4. Instilling Confidence in Others
  5. Growing in Confidence

We’ll be using the hashtag #confidencecode to share and track our posts. We hope you’ll stick with us, and even join in by publishing your own #confidencecode post with our writing prompts.