Summer time is reading time, especially if you can find time to bask in the sunshine with a good book.  The Confidence Code by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman was on our list this year.  We talked last time about the many mixed messages we overheard growing up and as we ventured out into entrepreneurship. Subtitled “The Science and Art of Self-assurance — What Women Should Know”, this book has insights, implications and advice for all SDMWVLGBTBE (Small, Disadvantaged/Disabled, Minority, Women, Veteran, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgendered Business Enterprise) business owners.

In the Do More, Think Less section, there is talk about mastery that reminded us strongly of conversations with single digit persons … the ones that say “I can’t” when they have not yet tried, and our insistence that they try, and try again, because “… mastering one thing gives you the confidence to try something else.” In our minds, this translates into taking the plunge with SDMWVLGBTBEs offering new services or products or chasing after new opportunities and clients. Experiencing small, continuing successes builds confidence and “Confidence is the stuff that turns thoughts into action.”

We’ve often wondered about ADHD, and how interesting that many of the successful entrepreneurs we have known seem to have ADHD symptoms to some extent, allowing them to multi-task almost like bees or butterflies touching down in fields of flowers. In the discussion of Wired for Confidence, there is talk of how our human code – genes – and neurotransmitters can impact our confidence levels. “Dopamine inspires doing and exploring; it is associated with curiosity and risk taking … Usually, dopamine is a good thing having more there for as long as possible is better for concentration. ADHD drugs are all about dopamine.” Which one benefits our confidence levels the most? Almost makes us want to take a DNA test to find out what might be making us tick!

On the other hand, “… researchers have found that the power of habitual thinking creates physical changes and new neural pathways in our brains …” which gives credence to the power of positive thinking, 12 step programs and how behavioral changes we make while living our lives may impact our confidence. Even more interesting to contemplate, is the idea that these external changes to our DNA “… may be passed onto our children immediately”.  There is significant on-going research on how experiencing stressful events, like the 9/11 attacks, impacts people’s genetics and their future offspring. One that fascinated us, being so close to the adoptive process, was a study of monkeys with genetic backgrounds and cross-fostering. “Monkeys that were born with the more resilient genes essentially did fine with any type of mother.” Which implies that monkeys with less resilient genes would benefit when “… cross-fostered with mothers who were supportive and there for their kids.” Nurture, it would seem, can change our genetic Nature!

We think the ultimate take away on confidence is, you’re born with some and you can continue to increase your confidence level by successfully completing various challenges in your personal and professional life. Practice, as in most things, makes perfect.


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