Self-confidence isn't always quiet. Certainly when nearly 60 women packed the Broome library last night it was far from quiet. Self-confidence was everywhere, though.
We discussed self-confidence from many angles. We shared our stories. We practised new ideas and tips on building confidence. We talked. We laughed. We learnt.
The big stand-out for me was the discussion we had about talking about our strengths. I asked everyone to have the confidence to tell their partners their ten strengths. Only two women got to ten.
This tells me we may not value our own abilities, and instead may spend too long focusing on our imperfections, faults and weaknesses. What chance do we have to build self-confidence if this is what we do?
Then some women argued that there was no need to be able to say their strengths out-loud. They thought their self-confidence was complete as long as they knew their strengths internally.
It is certainly great to know your strengths and it's a great self-confidence builder. But what if you are in business? How will you let your potential customers know of the value of your services and products if you hold back on being able to talk about what you do well? How will you perform in a job interview if you can't say your strengths out-loud?
You may have an inner confidence but if you can't express this no-one else may ever know what you do well, or even that you are worthwhile.
Finally, one woman spoke about her own confidence. She said there was no need for her to tell anyone about her strengths as she had plenty of self-confidence. She described what she does. "I do the women's surgery in Broome."
"What exactly does 'Do the women's surgery' mean? Are you a receptionist running the doctor's surgery, or the Dr?", I asked. "No, I do the surgery", she replied. Oh! She meant she was the surgeon.
Then she told of the time she went to buy some shoes to wear in the operating theatre. When she was in the shop the woman serving her asked what the shoes were for. The surgeon said she worked in a hospital. The assistant said, "You're an orderly are you?" To which the surgeon said, "Yes".
"Why lie?", I asked with surprise. "Because", she said, "I really respect the work that an orderly does. I had no need for anyone to know I was a surgeon, orderlies are very important people".
"You didn't have to brag. You didn't have to put down orderlies. You could have stayed light-hearted and still stated your truth", came my response.
"Having self-confidence does not mean you have to brag. Simply saying, 'I'm a surgeon. I want the shoes for the operating room' may have been all that was required."
Or, maybe you could have laughed and said, "The orderlies do a great job. They help people when they're conscious! I don't. I'm a surgeon."
You don't have to put others down or say you are the best. Just tell the facts.
This caused quite a stir! Why would I like her to say she is a surgeon? Firstly, by having the confidence to say, "I am a surgeon" she could help reduce the sexism which pervades our society. She could educate people and stop them from assuming that because she is a woman she can be pigeon-holed into a small number of occupations.
Secondly, when we as women have the self-confidence to tell people the truth about our skills we may inspire other women.
And this is what happened in Broome. After the speech, two women, whose confidence had increased during the evening, came up to me. They had been inspired by the surgeon's story. One said, "I was so inspired by the surgeon. I'm presently choosing a new career and I'd never thought that being a surgeon was an option for me, now I know it is." She beamed with confidence.
Another woman said, "It's clicked with me. When people ask what I do I've been saying, 'I'm just doing my teaching qualifications'. Well now I'm going to be more honest and say, 'I'm doing a Masters degree in Education'."
Wow! Rock on the women of Broome. Thank you for having me speak in your town. I feel honoured by the privilege you gave me and inspired by your stories.
To the wonderful staff in the Broome Library, thank you so much for all you did in organising and advertising the event, in providing such lovely refreshments and for staying back so late after a long day's work. Sally Eaton you're a star. May your self-confidence continue to shine.
Finally, thank you to Kate Baxter at WACHS (WA Community Health Services - Kimberley) for bringing me up here and making it all possible.
Self-confidence is vital for the health of all women. May your self-confidence help you lead happier, healthier lives.
And what is this frog doing here? It was climbing up my window in my hotel. I have never stayed anywhere as wonderfully spacious, as The Pearle in Broome - wow, and I happen to love frogs so Broome is bliss!