It’s hard not to be impressed by the kinetic, viral reaction to Katty Kay and Claire Shipman’s recent article in The Atlantic, “The Confidence Gap,” spotlighting how women with loads of competence seem to lack equal amounts of confidence. And here’s a not-so-shocking revelation: All success correlates just as closely with confidence as it does with competence.

Compared to men, women tend to place a higher value on being competent.  Yet striving to become 100% competent at a skill can actually prevent women from achieving their business goals if they lack the necessary confidence.  Many women believe they are held to higher standards: When they’re wrong, they believe the spotlight is brighter on their snafus.  Perhaps men are better at minimizing their failures and moving on.  So women need to get more competent at being confident.  Here's my take, ladies (and any guys who want to work on their confidence), on the top three ways for building confidence:

1) Take charge of your negative self-talk. Lower the volume on the “Saboteur,” that voice we all have in our heads that whispers – or shouts:  “You’re not good enough to lead this meeting (or anything else)”…“Don’t say that…everyone will think…”…“Why did/didn’t you do/say that…?”…“You need to be perfect…”

The tricky thing with the Saboteur is that she or he (you pick the gender) pretends she's here to protect and help you. The truth is she holds you back, creates self-doubt and builds obstacles.

2) Turn up the volume on your “Sage,” the positive internal voice that truly has your best interests at heart.

3) Put Your Best Self Forward. Have an out-of-body experience about how you present yourself to the world. And consider any necessary adjustments to build credibility, rapport and confidence.

The great news is you can build confidence at any age, and it’s good for your brain. The more you practice new ways of thinking and trying different actions, the more you create new neural pathways.  Practice with patience in mind, not perfection. 

Here’s a link to Katty Kay and Claire Shipman’s article in The Atlantic, “The Confidence Gap”

Thanks to all of you who allowed their Sages to give me valuable perspectives and feedback for this blog.