I recently had an interesting conversation with a couple of my female friends who are successful professionals that work in male dominated fields within the military/government service. They are civilians, exceedingly intelligent and thoughtful, and have worked very hard to get to the level that they have. I asked each of them what they thought were their most valuable qualities at work. Each person, individually, said “honesty above all else” and the secondary quality was confidence. They all felt that both honesty and confidence go hand in hand, and that by working hard, and being honest—even when it went against what others were saying/doing—built their reputation as someone who could be relied upon to be truthful and valuable to their teams. That, in turn, built their confidence to maintain their integrity. This is not just something they do at work, but strive for in all their relationships.
Then I asked my three young friends (10, 13 & 16) what qualities they thought made a person successful—and each of them said confidence. I asked them how they were supposed to get confidence, and they said by not being afraid to make mistakes and putting themselves out there by answering questions in school, trying to learn the best that they can, and to try and not be persuaded by what other people say about them or to them. That’s much easier to say than do, they all admitted. They see strong confident women in their lives and feel that they can be the same, but struggle with it as we all have done while growing up. I asked what they felt about honesty, and they each said it was extremely important. But they grapple with “instagram v reality” camera filters, body positivity, body confidence, and people who are not always kind. How do you reconcile that with honesty in all aspects of your life?
Romans 12:3 tells us to “be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.” Have we told a friend who looks tired that she looks great today? Have we tried on three or four different outfits before walking out the door? Do we self deprecate when someone compliments us on a job well done? We dye our hair, wear make-up and jewelry, get our nails done, and work out (or not)—but does that make us less authentic or just who we are? I think the motivation changes as we grow into ourselves, and no one can say for certain what drives someone else’s preferences for what makes them feel good about themself. The journey of self discovery and self honesty isn’t always pretty—it can be messy and dark at times. But not being afraid to be who you are, striving to be honest with yourself and others, leads to great success with jobs and relationships that are are truly priceless. Be honest, but be kind to yourself and those around you, and walk in the faith that you are not alone.