In today's featured Big Think interview, life coach and author Tara Sophia Mohr offers guidance to those who act as mentors to young women. In order to help girls achieve their full leadership potential, Mohr explains that we need to teach them lessons of self-value. It's vital that young women who seek to be leaders never doubt that their goal is reachable. In the video below, Mohr hits on three key points that will help girls play big and never give up:
Mohr's first point is that society as a whole needs to acknowledge young people's potential for positive change:
"Empowering young girls ... starts with a changed paradigm about how we see young people in general; see them as leaders, as change agents who are moving our culture forward. That’s actually what adolescent rebellion is all about. It’s about breaking the mold of the previous generation and moving the culture forward. So starting to see young women and men in that way rather than as rowdy teenagers who need to be managed and shaped and guided by us."
Treating adolescents like they're powerless only reinforces that harmful untruth. People who are continuously told that they can't do something won't try. People who won't try don't do. Placing kids in a restrictive box is therefore damaging both to the young people encumbered and society as a whole for encumbering them. We need to get past our apprehensions about young people and treat them like the valuable players they are.
Second, Mohr explains that we need to teach young people — and girls in particular — to silence their unhelpful inner critics. Young people who can subvert their fearful self-doubt will be more confident in their dealings and ambitions. The trick to telling your inner Iago to shut it is in identifying why your internal saboteur is the way he is:
"An inner critic is just the voice of fear within us, a voice that really doesn’t want us to ever stretch out of our comfort zone, ever get hurt, ever feel embarrassed. It’s that voice coming up with all kinds of arguments to keep us playing small so that those things never happen. And so the arguments it comes up with are: you aren’t smart enough or you aren’t good enough, or that was so stupid; how could you say that? And actually, all we really need to do to get the inner critic out of our way is to realize what it is; that it’s an irrational voice that actually has no bearing on the truth and to label it for what it is."
Again, this ties to the way we treat kids overall. When we discuss self-confidence in this context, we're not talking about handing out trophies for participation or over-inflating egos to the point of arrogant pretension. Rather, Mohr wants to set seeds so that young people can grow to be passionate and ambitious, ready to lead, and focused on their well-being. We need to teach young people the value they can provide to the world, which ties into Mohr's third point:
"The world has a hole in it that is shaped exactly like them, and only by sharing their own voice and bringing their unique gifts into the world will that hole be filled. So if they ever feel alienated by the world, like their point of view somehow just doesn’t fit, in some sense, they’re right. Their point of view is missing, but that’s because the world has a hole in it that's shaped just like them and it needs their voice to fill that hole."
It's vital to reinforce to young women (and young people in general) that the world will benefit if they work toward filling the them-shaped hole in its veneer. Helping them reach this point requires the aforementioned setting of seeds. Members of society who want to better the world by bettering young women need to open their eyes to their ultimate potential. Only when they can see themselves as leaders will young people have the mental wherewithal to achieve that goal.
This article is the second in a series brought to you in partnership with PwC. On February 27th, PwC will host a live webcast on developing great women leaders with ABC News's Claire Shipman and her "The Confidence Code" co-author Katty Kay. Register here for the webcast, and follow the conversation on Twitter: #PwCAspire. Big Think will be featuring more related videos and other content throughout the month.