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Have you ever doubted your ability?

Emily is my 19-year-old niece and she’s an amazingly gifted artist.  She paints the most compelling portraits and won the People’s Choice Award in the very first exhibition she entered.  In her second exhibition, she entered this portrait and came runner up in a field of artists who averaged twice her age.  In fact she’s so talented she’s just been accepted into the National Art School and will soon be winging her way from Darwin to Sydney to take up her place. 
It’s funny because as Emily was growing up, all the family used to contemplate “what would Emily do?”  She wasn’t particularly interested in academic pursuits, but over time her artistic ability flourished and it soon became clear we wouldn’t need to worry about Emily!  Yet despite her obvious talent, Emily herself lacked the confidence to take her art to the next level.  When the opportunity arose to apply to the NAS, she hesitated.  It’s not that she didn’t want to be there; she just doubted her work would be good enough.  With lots of encouragement she finally put her application in, and was accepted first off.  What a lesson in self belief!
I’m telling this story because it has a resounding familiarity to me: when I was Emily’s age I too lacked confidence and from time to time I still do.  Back then I doubted I’d be good enough to go to Uni, because no one else in my family had taken that path.  I then doubted I’d be good enough to get a job in banking; surely there’d be others more qualified.  Yet I got the job.  When I was contemplating applying for my MBA I doubted the AGSM would take me; surely others were smarter and more qualified.  Yet I got in and loved every minute of the learning.  And when I applied for my first Board position, I felt the same way too: there must be others better suited than me.  Yet I got that appointment.
This confidence thing, and believing in yourself – is it something you’ve ever had to overcome?  I suspect it’s something we’re all battling with.  And for women, much of it stems from seeing so few women going before us.
This morning I was speaking with Lynn Wood, Chairman of listed company Noni B – Lynn is our Take the Lead guest speaker at the next Ascend development day in Sydney and we were discussing the focus for her address to our forum.  Lynn summised that the key factors in her career success were careful planning and – wait for it – having confidence in yourself and your abilities.  Again, it’s not that different to Emily, yet we all need a confidence boost from time to time, and to see what can be possible if only we set our mind to it.
Hearing this from Lynn was gold.  And hearing from other successful women about what’s worked for them, what they’d do differently and what they’d just do more boldly, that’s priceless.
Lynn Wood, along with former national Testra Businesswomen Awards winner Sue Filby in Adelaide, company director and seasoned corporate executive Pamela Catty in Melbourne and General Manager of the Accor Hotel Group, Amery Burleigh in Brisbane, will share her experiences and tips for taking your career to the next level at the February Ascend events in these four cities.  They’ll share some advice on what you can do to increase your likelihood of career success, and talk about the obstacles they’ve overcome to get this far.  This is important because – like Emily – having talent is one thing, but truly realising your potential takes a lot of belief and a great deal of confidence.  Seeing others go before you can help you believe in yourself.
Lynn, Sue, Pamela and Amery will all be taking questions and sharing their stories, warts and all, in the Take the Lead Q&A sessions of our February Ascend events.  If you’d like to be there, to connect with these women and others like them, register now via the Events page on the sphinxx website.  It may just give you the confidence boost you need to Ascend to the top in your field this year.


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