I grew up in a family that loves to play games. One of our favorite things to do when we get together for holidays is playing Pinochle. If you’ve ever played, you know that one of the first steps is to determine whether you can “take the bid,” based on the hand you’ve been dealt. If you have a lot of one playing suit and those same cards are point cards, it’s a good strategy to take the bid. But I would argue that it’s almost always a good idea to take the bid—even when there’s risk involved—and I do it as often as possible. I’ve noticed my husband does the same thing, but the women in my family don’t play with the same level of assuredness.


I started wondering if this has something to do with confidence. In PRADCO’s “Women in Leadership: Striving for Excellence” program, the most frequent behavior participants self-report wanting to develop and exhibit more of is confidence. It takes confidence to take the bid. It can be risky—but overall, your chances of winning the game greatly increase the more often you take the bid. You must have faith in your abilities and trust that you can make a comeback if the risk doesn’t pay off. You have to believe you are skilled enough to make a win happen.


I think this is difficult for many people, especially women. The playing-it-safe strategy is evident in the now well-known statistic that men will generally apply for a job they believe they’re 60% qualified for, whereas women need to feel 100% qualified to consider applying. Similarly, the women I play Pinochle with—my beloved relatives—only take the bid when they are 100% confident that they can win. They would rather play it safe than bet on their own skill to make a big win happen. This is a real example of playing the hand you’ve been dealt without considering how your unique talents and attributes can positively impact your outcomes. What might be possible in your life if you “took the bid” more often? What if, instead of playing not-to-lose, you start playing to win?


When I coach people who lack confidence (male and female) I point out that taking action and being willing to take small risks, and consequently achieving small wins, builds confidence overtime to do more of it and achieve bigger wins. Small victories build our courage and help us realize we can handle even greater risks and accomplishments. Much like taking the bid, confidence is a choice.


We take a deeper look at the many facets of confidence in our women’s leadership development programs. One piece of guidance we offer is to just start, even if you aren’t sure of every step you need to take to get to your end goal. Beginning a project is a powerful way to motivate yourself to finish. Also, remember that failure is not a fixed state. Just because you may have failed does not mean you’re a failure. Adopting a growth mindset will help you learn from stumbles and use that experience to grow as a leader and human being. In the words of Winston Churchill, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.”


If you’re interested in learning more, please check out our offering for Women in Leadership, here. And the next time you’re faced with a choice in the game of life where you have a chance to take a small risk, I hope you’ll take the bid.