Le Week-end Petit Plaisir: No. 16
Saturday April 19, 2014

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Free time on a weekend is a treat to be savored, and it is all the more enjoyable when a book to read is at hand, and it becomes the reason for losing all track of time. Such is the case that occurred this weekend.

All week I have been hearing reviews, critiques and interviews of the authors Katty Kay and Claire Shipman who teamed up for a second time on their book The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance—What Women Should Know, and so I was quite curious to see if indeed this book was worth reading.

Both successful in their own right, both Kay and Shipman have successful careers in television journalism (BBC News America and ABC News, respectively), however, both were curious as to what exactly was the definition of confidence and how can women gain more of it in a world in which it is valued greatly.

The gift of a good book is that you walk away after reading it having gained valuable knowledge that is empowering, enlightening and in this case a resource to be reread. While below I have pulled out a few of my favorite gems of wisdom, the entire book is worth reading closely. From genetic make-up to social conditioning and self-determination to change our behavior, confidence is something that can be honed as we move through life, and The Confidence Code reveals how and why it works.

While chapter one begins with the idea that the majority of women, whether they appear confident or not, are actually quite lacking in the area of self-assurance, there will be instances in which you may identify completely, not at all or somewhere along the continuum, but what I most appreciated about the book was their inclusion of successful women who carved their own path – some exuding a surprising lack of confidence, while others were impressive role-models of the confidence this book strives to helps us all achieve. From IMF Chairwoman Christine Lagarde to Major General Jessica Wright, each woman reveals how they have attained their self-confidence, and teach by example that we really do hold the reins.

Gems of Wisdom:

  • Take action, be bold, make decisions. Be honest, be feminine (what comes naturally to you). Be comfortable in your own skin.
  • The resonance of mastery is in the process and the progress. It is about work, and learning to develop an appetite for challenge.
  • The confidence you get from mastery is contagious. It spreads.
  •  Confidence is linked to doing. It is a willingness to go out of your comfort zone and do things. 
  • Confidence is about resilience and not giving up.
  • Confidence is the belief in your success, which then stimulates action, therefore, you will create more confidence when you take that action.
  • Some of the reasons women lack confidence can be found in our environment. 
  • Making mistakes, and taking risks, behavior critical for confidence building, is also behavior girls try to avoid, which is detrimental to building self-confidence.
  • Girls who play team sports are more likely to graduate from college, find a job and be employed in male-dominated industries. There’s even a direct link between playing sports in high school and earning a higher salary in life. 
  • Psychologists believe that playground mentality (rough-housing and teasing as young boys), encourages boys later, as men to let other people’s tough remarks slide off their backs.
  • Professional success demands political savvy, a certain amount of scheming and jockeying, a flair for self-promotion and not letting a “no” stop you.
  • We are suffering from an epidemic of overthinking.
  • Perfectionism keeps us from action.
  • Praise moderately, not excessively.
  • Avoid upspeak
  • The people who succeed aren’t always naturals. They are doers. 

This list is just a glimpse of the wealth of information which includes studies, research, quizzes, interviews and tips to help yourself as well as suggestions on how to raise young girls and encourage confidence in the society one lives. Choosing to live with confidence is a conscious choice. Our actions, words and response to others each day affect the growth of what we wish to grow. I highly recommend the book regardless of your age, even your gender. Because while woman may be the focus of this book, authentic confidence, realizing our potential, being willing to work tirelessly to improve and grow, is a gift we each can give ourselves that can’t help but improve the quality of our lives – man or woman.

If you would like an in-depth overview of the book, be sure to read The Atlantic’s most recent issue’s cover story, “The Confidence Gap” or listen to Diane Rehm’s interview of the authors here on NPR.


~Petit Plaisirs from the Archives:

~No. 15 . . . a simple vignette and consignment decor shopping

~No. 14 . . . a fantastic cookbook for living on your own

~No. 1 . . . French Women Don’t Get . . . the latest book in the series from Mireille Guiliano



2 thoughts on “Le Week-end Petit Plaisir: No. 16

  1. I too heard a lot about this book over the course of the week. I am thrilled to read these highlights. What struck me the most personally is the piece about the benefit of playing team sports. I am always looking to simplify our family schedule and am often tempted to begin my cuts with sports (not being an athlete myself) so this is a timely reminder for me.

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