03/04/2015 11:07 am ET Updated May 01, 2015

If You Don't Ask For It, You Won't Get It

The issue of pay equity has been in the news recently, e.g., Hollywood and wage disparity -- female actors being paid less in comparison to their male counterparts, and when the head of a studio (who happens to be a woman) doesn't care, who will? The answer is YOU!

We are great at asking for everyone else -- for our kids, parents, bosses -- but when it comes to ourselves, do we make it a priority? All too often, the answer is NO. Why not? Conditioning you might say, but courage trumps conditioning! Whether asking for a raise, a promotion or offering up ideas in a meeting, courage is the main ingredient for success -- those who wait to take action until they feel 100 percent confident are likely to miss out on big opportunities. So I am redefining Confidence to mean moving forward when you think you can make a difference, even with "shaky knees."

My new book The Confidence Myth: Why Women Undervalue Their Skills, and How to Get Over It gives tips on how to know your value and put yourself out there to win. There is no time like the present to do that -- and you don't need all your skills in place! The bottom line is to take action. In our survey of over 530 women, it was found that:

• Increased confidence allowed respondents to reach for greater personal and professional goals. However, several characteristics associated with confidence, such as "wealth of experience," could only be attained over time. To build confidence women need to take risks, like putting themselves in the running for jobs that will enable them to accomplish stretch goals.

• Another key factor cited in building confidence, according to 86 percent of the respondents, is "using [your] skills and making an impact." As in the case of experience, the only way to make a real impact is to take action.

• Of the respondents, 76 percent said the ability to make mistakes and recover from them enhances confidence. Moving out of one's comfort zone and taking risks -- even when not feeling ready--is absolutely paramount to building confidence.

If courage was the big confidence booster, what were the main confidence busters?

Perfectionism (55 percent), bosses who are disrespectful or micromanage (54 percent), fear of failure (48 percent), feeling disconnected from my job because the work doesn't leverage my skills (49 percent), and having colleagues who were uncooperative and overly critical (46 percent) were cited most among respondents who struggled with confidence.

For more findings from the "Women and Confidence" survey featured in The Confidence Myth, click HERE.