Co.OfWomen founder Tara Lorigan shares how confidence featured in the development of the organisation, along with the how-to of building this must-have success trait.


Confidence is a critical element of success, and as women, we have a distinctive relationship with it.

My relationship with my confidence has often been a very stressful one. For a big part of my adult life I felt I had very little confidence; it was the thing that seemed most vulnerable in the challenges of life.

Before I discovered the power of neuroscience, I genuinely felt that I would go through life with my confidence always up for grabs. I can’t tell you what a relief it is to consider my brain as a machine that can be tinkered with, rather than looking at myself as the broken vessel requiring fixing – exhausting, to say the least.

For years, there was so much pain associated with my success journey as I was working on my career and businesses in relative isolation. The pain wasn’t real, but it may as well have been. The source of the pain was the regular and at times frequent questioning of my ability to achieve what I had set out to do.

If you find yourself asking the question, ‘why would you do that to yourself?’, the answer is easy. My early life experience had set me up to believe that I was unlikely to succeed, and as an adult, it took me a long time to work out that that wasn’t true – that success is built from belief, mindset and knowledge, in that order. It wasn’t until we launched Co.OfWomen and started working closely with members that I realised my response to my success journey (which I had thought to be my version of crazy) was almost identical to the vast majority of women.

This realisation prompted the process we developed for working with our members. Our first goal beyond getting to know these women is to clarify what their vision is, or, the level of ‘game’ they’re going for. We have no vested interest in it being at any particular level – big, small and everything in between is welcome, but it’s essential for us to know what members are going for to ensure they get the practical support and resources to achieve it.

The penny-dropping moment came near the end of that first year. I realised that for the most part, women share their vision of the future with passion, energy and clarity, but that two identical statements quickly follow: “But I don’t know how to do that” and “I’m not sure that I can.”

This was an unexpected realisation of revolutionary proportions, and I had two different responses to it. First, I felt a little relieved to discover that I wasn’t alone. But much more so, I was horrified as I realised that this lack of confidence was tantamount to a gender epidemic and Co.OfWomen would never be able to come close to achieving what we had set out to do if women didn’t believe in themselves.

To be clear, it’s not that low confidence means we won’t achieve success. Our success is fuelled by a range of things we draw on daily, but it’s absolutely the case that it will come unnecessarily slowly, and painfully.

There’s no question that confidence can be built, that it’s easy to build and that once we have it, it can’t be lost.


The revelation took hold of me, and our early board members will back me up when I say that I was frustrated to the point of tears at one of those board meetings. I was endeavouring to present my first plan to address this, which roundly missed the mark.

What I later realised is it didn’t matter that my first attempt sucked as most first, second and third attempts at solving big problems are crappy, but at least we were on the way to working out how to make a big difference in this area for women.

Ironically, I didn’t recognise this at that time, and it took my confidence a while to recover as I was very much the prototype in development with this whole area.


You may be wondering how the founder of a female organisation could be unaware of this. The answer is easy. The only conversation about female success in the public domain, propagated by the media for decades, focuses on challenges that relate to employed women; the glass ceiling, pay equity, women on boards – a critical but disturbingly myopic trio.

If I’d ever considered the gender aspect of building a practical business support model to see women experience the fullness of their financial success, I would have discounted it on the basis that it didn’t apply to me.

One of the things I love most about the entrepreneurial journey is the agility we have. We can respond swiftly to problems and opportunities, and doing both reactively is often how a business develops.


Fast forward a couple of years from my disturbing revelation, we had made considerable strides in working with hundreds of women on this aspect of their success, and finally, the answer on how to get the word out to thousands of women emerged. I had been trying over and over to get the media interested in writing about female success to no avail, and as I was again turned down, I thought ’you know what, we’ll make our own publication’ and just like that co. magazine was born.

The magazine was the perfect strategy for so many reasons. In addition to having a platform to share what we believe to be important for women, it exclusively showcases our incredible, generous members and their businesses. It reflects our community’s belief that everyone has something to bring and to benefit from, no matter what stage you’re at. It allows us to share the ‘been there’ intelligence of women across the growth spectrum and importantly, the how-to business tools and neuroscience-based tools of personal performance. It literally is the gift that keeps on giving. It’s worth reminding ourselves that all those spectacular outcomes are the eventual response by us to so many ‘nos’, and a reminder of the importance of them on our journeys.

When we stop the habit of assuming we don’t have what it takes, we are 50 per cent of the way closer to confidence.


There’s no question that confidence can be built, that it’s easy to build and that once we have it, it can’t be lost.


Confidence is the belief that I can.

The critical word in the definition of confidence is ‘belief’ as it’s possible that we have everything we need to proceed confidently, but if we don’t believe we do, it has the same impact as if we don’t.

There are two things most women do that have a detrimental impact on confidence, making our progress uncomfortable and the journey longer. The fab news is that there is one thing that can increase our confidence, enable us to progress with ease, and see the results we’re after faster.

>> The Stop-it list

First, let’s look at what I’ve called the terrible two, so we can stop doing those right now.


When faced with a new level or any new goal, we frequently assume we should know how to achieve it.

Many of us can think this way as we’ve interacted with people who look like they do know. These folks are likely to have had more experience with the starting process. If they’re men, it’s worth noting that they have a completely different process at the outset than women. This can look like they know what they’re doing but the key difference is, they don’t get bogged down wondering and talking themselves down in the way women do.

I promise you that at the beginning of a new endeavour no one, I repeat, no one has the full knowledge of how to get there. At best, all anyone has is some experience, knowledge and an openness to learn.


The place to start on any new journey is by drawing on what we already know, making assumptions, and engaging with any relevant others that can help us build our knowledge to the point that we’re willing to take action.

It’s important to note that even when we’re in action and executing our plan (written or not), what we’re essentially doing is working out if what we thought and assumed was right. Our job in execution mode is to pay close attention to everything during this phase, so we notice what’s not working and ditch it while amplifying what’s working. No one gets a shortcut on this process.


The second thing that we do is worry that we may not have what it takes to achieve what we want.

When it comes to our success, this habit is our biggest handbrake and more to the point, it’s wrong. Even worse, it’s based on no evidence – we reach that conclusion without any search for evidence to support it or, importantly, to the contrary.

When we stop the habit of assuming we don’t have what it takes, we are 50 per cent of the way closer to confidence. But we do need that other 50 per cent, so here’s how to get it.


I’ll repeat it, you’re going to find this gobsmackingly simple, and you may even wonder if it’s too good to be true. But trust me, this is tested and proven. And to prove it, it’s got a name – we call it the ‘I’ve got this’ tool.

> Do this to build confidence

The single thing that will build our confidence is for us to look for the evidence that we can. To do this, we look at what we already have to support what we want to do.

The task is a simple process of listing out our skills, traits, habits and capacities – in fact, anything we think would be useful and supportive.

The second part of the process is to make this statement to yourself: ‘I’ve got this.’ The statement is now based on the clear knowledge that we have much to draw on already and the rest we can learn.

The more we do this process, the more explicitly aware we are of our strengths, and in fact, in time we’ll need to do it less and less.

I used this process a lot in the past, and I still do any time I feel that ‘I lack’ habit take over – and yes, it’s usually any time I’m going for a significant stretch personally and for the business.

One of the things this self-awareness process does is release dopamine, and you’ll know you’ve done that because you’ll start to feel good. But more importantly, when the brain releases dopamine, it readjusts our brain chemistry so that we think better. It’s a double whammy of awesome.

Use the ‘I’ve got this’ tool every time you’re planning to take on anything new that you know will stretch you. Do it first, and do it always, and you’ll find that the confidence you want to progress is right there for you.

We’ve got this.

The single thing that will build our confidence is for us to look for the evidence that we can.