This week, Sinead Sharkey, founder of Generation Women shares an inspirational blog to celebrate International Women’s Day.
Are you carrying a dirty little secret? I know a lot of women that are and it’s eating them up inside. They sit down in front of me and let me in. Out spills how they feel like they should be further on, should be higher, have more responsibility, be achieving more. By most measures, they are already successful, yet they still feel something is holding them back.
What on earth could be making these intelligent and amazing women feel like this?
Like they are lacking in some (if not lots) of ways. A dark, nagging sense that they just aren’t enough. A deep-rooted belief that they might not really have what it takes. It makes me sad and furious at the same time.
What’s happened to make them feel this way?
For some, it’s juggling the demands of motherhood and work. I don’t think anyone can truly understand the identity shifts that happen when you become a Mum unless they’ve been through it themselves. For others, it’s the lasting impact of a toxic boss or work environment. It may have been being in the wrong job where their strengths weren’t used properly and imposter syndrome crept in. For all of us, there’s the impact of the weight of expectation on their shoulders. The sense that as a woman you can’t win.
We are constantly judged for our choices, behaviours, and who we are. Judged for how you look and how you sound. For going to work or staying at home, being too likeable so you can’t be leadership material, or not being confident enough or for being too confident. Too shrill, bossy, feisty, ambitious, bubbly, ditsy, emotional or too high maintenance. And whatever other descriptors that will only ever be applied to women.
It’s a lot to deal with. And a lot needs to change. We have had it affirmed that yes, #MeToo. That #TimesUp. But while we push for society to change, we can’t just wait for a miracle. The pressure ain’t going to ease up anytime soon, so it’s time to reclaim your value and understand your worth for you. To realise YOU ARE ALREADY ENOUGH.
I know that’s easy for me to say, but I’m also going to give you the how to. You are going to identify your career (and other) superpowers. We all have them, and when you know what they are, and can say them out loud, and tell others, then you have tapped into your well of inner confidence. With it you can achieve anything…and be happier with who you are.
Ask yourself, can you say the statement “I am great at…” and comfortably finish it with 10+ statements?
If not. Keep reading. And men, this will work for you too!
Identify your powers:
- What strengthens you? When you feel energised and satisfied that you’ve done a great job, what had you done? What did you do that no one else could have done in the same way?
- Ask yourself what would be missing from a project/ your team/ at home if you weren’t there. When you’re at your best how do you make people feel? What results do you get?
- Do people come to you looking for advice? What are you the go-to person for?
- Look for evidence. When have you had great feedback, or got good results?
- Ask for feedback. Ask people you really respect what they see as your strengths. What value do you add? What would they miss if you weren’t there?
Own your powers:
- If you don’t keep a journal already, it’s time to start! Nothing too laborious, but simply a record of what I did well today. If you struggle to identify anything, start small: I kept my cool when I was annoyed; I solved a problem…I delivered a presentation well and got good feedback. It ALL counts.
- Say out loud to yourself what your powers are. You may struggle to say ‘I’m great at’ at first, so start with ‘I’m pretty good at’ and keep practising until you can say great comfortably. Do it daily.
- Share with people you trust. Tell your dog, your partner, your best friend. Explain you’re building your confidence about work and want to be able to own what you’re great at. Come and join my Facebook group and tell us, you’ll get oodles of support there!
- Become aware of your minimising language. ‘I suppose’, ‘I’m quite good at’, ‘maybe I’m able to’, ‘I’m just..’, etc. undermines your strength. Dump the softeners and the qualifiers.
Share your powers:
- When you use your powers regularly, they and you get stronger. Look out for opportunities to use them, and make it happen. Volunteer those specific skills for the next project, speak to other departments about how you can help, look at how you can add value to the organisation and go for it.
- Talk about what value you bring to your manager, to peers, to seniors. This isn’t about tooting your own trumpet at every occasion, it’s about increasing awareness of your strengths so that you are in mind when the next opportunity arises.
- Help others with your powers. If you can see that you would be the right person to sort an issue out or make a project easier, even if it’s not in your remit, offer to help. When you are known for your strengths you get the chance to use them more regularly.
It’s time to squash those secret fears. Put these steps into practice, and before you know it, you’ll be the Wonder Woman of your own career. Imagine where you’ll get to!
It’s time to celebrate International Women’s Day
Sinead is the Founder of Generation Women and is a Career and Leadership Coach. She has almost 20 years’ experience of developing leaders in global corporates. Her passion for helping others excel in their careers has resulted in her clients landing the jobs they want, being headhunted, and stepping up into leadership with confidence. She’s the Director of Leadership Development for Lean In Ireland and a passionate advocate for equality.