Have you ever heard lawyers’ advice never to ask a question unless you already know the answer? The first time I heard that was watching the OJ Simpson trial. Sure enough Chris Darden and Marcia Clark were the prosecutors and they asked Mr. Simpson to try on the glove. They asked him if the glove fit. They thought they knew the answer, but boy were they surprised. In fact, that little surprise was a huge factor in the prosecution’s case falling apart and OJ Simpson being acquitted.
Well something similar happened to me and boy. was I surprised. I was giving a speech to a Women’s Leadership program at UNCC. We were discussing some of the factors that hurt women in today’s workplace and in the world in general. Confidence or lack thereof was a big topic. I started out by telling the women about a study that came out of Boston College in 2013 that found women were leaving college with less confidence than they had upon entering school. Both Duke and Princeton conducted their own studies and came to the same conclusion. This was very impactful and worth more discussion. And I decided to ask a question that I thought I knew the answer to.
In order to preserve anonymity, I asked the women to text me with an “I Am… statement”. I told them to tell me something they had a talent for but I very specifically said I wanted it phrased in a very specific way. It should read I AM….and then explain their talent. I fully expected to hear, “I’m an Ok listener”. “I’m decent at piano”. “I am learning to surf”. Because of other data I had been reading about women and confidence this was my expectation. The women blew up my phone with their texts, and I was blown away by their statements. “I am fantastic at getting the attention of the room.” “I am a terrific friend.” “I am super at the shooting range (an ROTC member).”
As I went on and on reading these declarations, I became more and more aware of the power radiating in the room. These were not timid and shy wallflowers. These were young women who were emboldened and empowered. And even though I was there as a guest speaker brought in to help boost their confidence I was the one who was inspired. Thanks to these young women and others like them, the future is looking bright!