I recently conducted a career workshop for leaders on how to prepare for a job interview. Twelve women and four men were in attendance. I asked, Who wants to be the first to volunteer for a mock interview? Four men waved their hands in the air. I was stunned that not a single woman volunteered. After the men completed their interviews, I tried to encourage a few women to give it a try, stressing that participation would be a valuable experience. No luck. Finally, I walked over to one woman and whispered, Come on, you can do this. What’s the problem?
“Everyone will think I’m stupid because I don’t know how to answer these questions,” she whispered. I tried to persuade her to get some courage. I’ll help you. With that reassurance, she finally volunteered. Everyone clapped as she walked to the front of the room. Her interview was excellent.
Out of curiosity, I asked the men in the group why they had volunteered for the mock interview. They responded they had nothing to lose and added they were used to taking chances and didn’t want to waste an opportunity to practice.
No one likes to look stupid. Many women share they are reluctant to take a chance on something for fear of looking stupid. This problem is difficult to address since the fear of looking stupid is deeply rooted in one’s psychological arena.
If you suffer from the fear of looking stupid, it’s important to realize that everyone feels stupid at some point in their life. Anticipating or expecting too much, too soon, in any endeavor can lead to failure so it helps to be realistic with what you take on. But believing that you will fail almost guarantees failure.
Studies of successful women reveal they accept failure as inevitable and are not afraid to take a chance. Next time you feel stupid’ think about all the women you know who succeed at almost everything without being fearful. Be like them and resist the fear of feeling stupid.
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