Marshall defines backbone as "firm and resolute character". In action, she says, it might look and feel like courage. The word "integrity" also describes someone with a strong backbone. My belief is that everyone can grow a backbone and that business is a perfect place for you to learn how.
The Three Components of Backbone:
According to Marshall there are three components of backbone: competence, the ability to take purposeful risks, and confidence. Each component interacts with the other.
1. Competence. Be open to growing your ability in every aspect of your academic career, and not just knowledge of your field. Seek out help in improving your writing abilities, time management skills, and ability to deal with others, for example. Cultivate experiences that will help your competence grow. List all your talents and abilities, and be aware of how much you've accomplished in the past few years.
2. The ability to take purposeful risks. As Marshall says, this is "the ability to engage in intelligent, purposeful ventures on behalf of your career." By taking on appropriate challenges, you will not only succeed some of the time, but you will get practice in learning how to cope with setbacks, criticism and disappointment.
3. Confidence. This is a natural outgrowth of the first two components and will lead you to take on more challenges. Knowing that you can survive the negative consequences of the risks you have taken will actually increase your courage and self-esteem. Having more competence, of course, will make you more calmly confident in yourself and your abilities.