In Texas we have a saying – “I double-dog dare ya!” This quaint colloquialism means is that “I dare you to do this and if you don’t, you’re a coward.” What does this have to do with leadership?

Becky Blalock was the keynote speaker at a conference I attended and she wrote a book entitled Dare: Straight Talk on Confidence, Courage, and Career for Women in Charge. Here are two of the leadership dares she talked about in the conference.

Dare to Begin Within

In this dare Blalock says that some of what is holding women back from achieving big dreams is that they don’t know what they want. She says, “Figure this out!” The foundation for being confident is knowing what you want. Once you know it, then you can more easily set your priorities, allowing you to say no to the things that don’t fit what you want. Think big. Set your target high.

Did you know that:

  • Thomas Edison said that radio is merely a craze?
  • The New York Times said we can’t leave the earth’s atmosphere.
  • Thomas Watson, CEO of IBM, said around 1943 that “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”

Blalock says we continuously underestimate what will happen in the world – and in us. She says we women think more negative thoughts about ourselves and our capabilities than men do. We need to train ourselves to concentrate on the positives and the possibilities. Stop underestimating what you can do!

Dare to be Bold

Blalock says that confidence is a learned skill – it takes practice and a willingness to get out of your comfort zone. We need to risk in order to gain confidence. Scary! So, how? Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Ask yourself – what kind of risk can I try today? It doesn’t have to start out huge – just try a new way home, wear a color you have always secretly thought was too bold for you, speak up in the next meeting.

We women assume people around the table know more than we do. Men are oblivious to the fact they sometimes shut women out and then later say the same thing and get credit for your idea. Most of the time they are not taking credit where it’s not due on purpose. They have merely heard women (their mothers and later their wives) their whole lives telling them what to do. A coping mechanism has emerged where they tune us out. But the words seep in and when they say them back out, the men around the table hear it and applaud. It’s not malicious, it’s a learned response. So recruit an ally in the meetings you attend – it can be a man or another woman. Have them validate you when you say something.

Women tend to wait to be asked and Blalock says that leadership is taken, not given. So stand up. Let your voice be heard. Get someone to validate your thought and risk.

What do you think? Have you looked within and determined your strengths, weaknesses, values, attributes, vision? Are you being bold in saying what you believe? Do people see you as the thought leader you are? What are you going to do today to get you closer to the leader you want to be? I double-dog dare ya!