In my work, I have the pleasure and honor of speaking with some of the most amazing people on the planet: women leaders. During a recent conversation with speaker, author, and entrepreneur Jennifer Brown, we unearthed a little-known fact about and benefit from becoming an author.
Jennifer is a dynamic woman leader with a passion for diversity. Her work takes her to the executive offices of some of America’s largest corporations. And rightly so. She is showing these companies and their leadership how to walk the talk when it comes to diversity and inclusion in the workforce.
But back to our discovery. Over the past year and a half, I interviewed more than 70 women from around the world to ask about their experience reaching success as women leaders in business. My goal was to gather insights from Jennifer about a variety of topics. As we talked, Jennifer’s passion for her work was not just evident, it was palpable. I could feel it bursting through the speakers as she told her story. And her confidence was smooth, mature and refined with not so much as a hint of arrogance. So I asked Jennifer about that confidence. Was she born with it or did she cultivate it over time?
Turns out Jennifer developed a stage presence at the early age of five. That’s when she began performing and competing on stage in both piano and singing. Jennifer believes the base of her confidence was built in that setting. But her confidence in business is something she had to build for herself. And she discovered that it was tied in part, to the writing of her book, Inclusion.
Authors expect a book to build authority and establish credibility with the outside world. The book did exactly that for Jennifer. But what she didn’t anticipate was the boost in self-confidence that came along with it. As Jennifer explains,
“Becoming an author was huge for me. I noticed a shift in my confidence. It took me years to feel like I’m truly in the driver's seat, even in my own business. The book was a tipping point. After it came out, I truly owned my place in the world. The internal legitimacy it provided took me a bit by surprise.”
But the benefit doesn’t stop there for Jennifer. She went on to explain how it is projecting out onto the world,
“Now I show up differently. My message is resonating in the world. I happen to be in the right place at the right time with my message. When this synergy happens it’s magical.”
I happen to believe that whenever you write your book, it is the right place and time.
We talked about the fact that only about 10% of op-ed pieces in major publications are written by women. And that 90% of books on leadership are written by men. Jennifer added,
“We already know what men think about leadership. We do not know what women think about leadership. It’s an issue that I see women struggle with; that nagging sense of internal doubt that is so tough to shake. I was no different until I became an author.”
Women tend to doubt themselves, play small and struggle to master the inner confidence game. Trusting our instincts and using our intuition are skills that take time to develop. And in many cases, we still are playing along with the beliefs and norms of an outdated, male-dominated system. It is not surprising that writing a book validates the author on multiple levels.
And when it comes to writing a book, we both agreed that the benefits are many. When it comes to building confidence, it's about taking action. In their book The Confidence Code, Katty Kay and Claire Shipman explain the action-confidence connection this way:
Every piece of research we have studied, and every interview we have conducted, lead to the same conclusion: Nothing builds confidence like taking action, especially when the action involves risk and failure. Risk keeps you on life's edge. It keeps you growing, improving and gaining confidence.
Jennifer shared with me that in her coaching, she asks ‘Are you truly believing your power?’ She recommends that you take it in and really internalize your brilliance. One of her favorite mantras is ‘I am the authority.’
Maybe it’s the right time for you to take that risk and become the authority. The reward just might be more than you expected.
And to get you off to a strong start, this Blueprint Cheat Sheet will help you declutter your mind and put some focus and structure around your book idea.
For women leaders only: my gift to you is a 30-minute brainstorm session to discuss your book idea and walk through the Blueprint Cheat Sheet together. Don’t miss this opportunity to save countless hours of struggle trying to figure this out by yourself.