In some of our many African cultures, confidence can be confused with boldness. It can be seen as disrespect or poor manners. This is not confidence. Confidence is something we hold within ourselves. It means we value ourselves, our talents and our potential. It means we believe that we can make a difference through our actions and that our lives are meaningful. It means we recognise that we have something to contribute, and aspire to fulfilment. A confident woman is one best able to reach her potential, lift up her family and community, and create the strong, vibrant Africa that we all wish to see. 

  •  Confidence is defined as the state of feeling certain about the truth of something or having firm trust. This trust is defined as the reliance on the integrity, strength, ability and surety of a person or thing.
  • Confidence is one of the most important aspects that determine a person’s success. A confident leader is respected and admired. But what role does confidence, a common trait in every field of operation, play in leadership?
  • To aspire to become someone great is not possible without being confident. The courage to lead others comes only when you can lead yourself with strong determination and trust. When a woman is confident, she can lead others in her home, school and community. Thus, to be a leader, confidence is very important; confidence is built over time and especially during a mentoring relationship.

Zanele’s Story; How my Mentor helped me build confidence

I am Zanele from South Africa. I am delighted to share my journey of building confidence with you. I am the only girl in my family, and I have three brothers. I grew up believing that I never had an opinion or that I was not good at decision-making since in my family my parents only asked the opinion of my brothers. “Zanele let your brothers lead you”, “Zanele listen to your brothers”, and “Zanele do what your brothers tell you”, were the typical phrases I heard. So I was to be led, spoken to and not speak and did whatever my brothers decided for me. At school, I didn’t have any leadership responsibility and I never even imagined I would be capable of any.

I got admission into a hospitality college, and for the first time in my life I heard the word “Mentor”. In the beginning, I didn’t understand what mentoring was all about and was very sceptical. Imani, my mentor, was very welcoming and I felt I could trust her since she was a very good listener. When I talked to her, and she listened I felt valued. In one of our mentoring sessions, she asked me about my career aspirations, and I told her that I wanted to work in a Hotel. Imani asked, “But what is your dream career?”. I looked at her, and I had no answer as I had never thought myself capable of any specific career. Over the next few sessions, she helped me discover my strengths and passion. Each time I set a goal I was very proud since I was making decisions about my personal and academic life. I began to believe I could achieve more since Imani would encourage me to constantly improve. At home, I began to organise birthday parties and prepare special dishes, to everyone’s amazement.

Imani shared some stories of young women who had various successful jobs in the hotel industry and were alumni of my college. Reading these stories, I felt inspired and began dreaming of my future career. My mentor helped me realise that I had very good organisational skills and I was appointed to be in charge of students’ non-academic activities in the college. We also began discussing my future career aspiration of owning a restaurant.

 After finishing college I got a job as an assistant manager in a top hotel in Pretoria. After a few years, a new hotel was opened in my hometown, and I applied for the manager’s position, and I got the job. After several years, I was able to run and own a restaurant; my dream came true! I am greatly indebted to my mentor Imani who helped me in this journey of growing in confidence. I never thought I could have a leadership or responsibility position before I met my mentor.

Today, I am a leader not only at my restaurant but also in my family and community; my mentor played a very crucial role in this. I am on the management board of various schools in my village, and I mentor the girls in these schools and in my own family. I often tell them what Imani would repeat in our mentoring sessions; “Zanele believe in yourself and work hard, you can achieve this” “Zanele you are capable of achieving this goal next time; failing should not discourage you but use it as a learning opportunity”. Thank you Imani for helping me have confidence in myself!

Reflection Questions

  • How do you develop young women’s confidence?
  • What misunderstandings are there about young women’s confidence and their need to ‘behave’ in your culture?

Our Latest Posts:

Spread the love