Are You Getting Lost in the Crowd at Work?

Feeling like your career growth has stalled out?  Are you getting lost in the crowd? Stuck in the mid-career malaise, the sea of shiny faces at the bottom of the pyramid?

We all know the feeling of waiting to be picked….  And sometimes our careers feel that way—whether it’s hoping we’ll get put on the growth track at our companies, or hoping our dream clients will say yes.

Over the next few days, I’m going to be writing about some of the ways I see women get lost in the crowd and slow down their career growth.

One of those ways, is they look backwards and not forwards.

What I mean by that is that every day, at work, they behave like the person they are in their career now.

Well, duh? I am the person I am now, right? Are you about to get really meta on me?

Uh, yeah. Just a little.

I recently went to a public speaking training summit, Heroic Public Speaking. One of the best pieces of advice came from Tamsen Webster, Executive Producer of TEDxCambridge. She said, “Speak for the stage you want, not just the stage you’re on.”

If you speak with the level of polish, professionalism, and energy of the stage you want—you show the audience that you need a bigger room, a bigger audience, a bigger platform.

Even if you’re just in the back of a Macaroni Grill speaking to 12 people (and yes, this is a true story of how one of the professional speakers I met last week got started.)

Have you ever heard the phrase, ‘dress for the job you want, and not the one you’ve got?’

Maybe you said “yes!” and bought some new shoes…. Or maybe you said… “Stop judging my body you dumb world of quotable aphorisms! Put it on an inspirational poster with a tiger on a mountaintop, why don’t you!”

(You totally can’t tell which way I responded, huh?)

But guess what? There’s a kernel of truth in that advice…. And not just because women are judged on their looks (external reason) but because our outsides influence our insides (internal reason.)

When you show up at your desk, or at your photo shoot, or at your construction site acting like the person you are now, you express that you’re exactly where you should be.

But when you show up as the person you want to be—with the leadership skills of a project manager, not a worker bee, with the presence and command of a industry lead, not the little helper behind the scenes—people start to see where you could go.

Now how do you do that?

It’s actually more creative than you think.

Step One: Observe


You find someone who is that person you want to be and you study them. Like an anthropologist. You watch how they move and sit and make eye contact. You pay attention to what they say in meetings, and how often they talk. You look at how they dress and their work habits. You record them. A little secretly. (Don’t pull out your clipboard, it’s a little creepy. And watch out for those those bug-out eyes.)

Step Two: Practice

Once you’ve got your insight into what the woman you want to be looks like, you’ve got to practice it. You practice it at home at the dinner table. You test out how that language feels in your mouth. You start incorporating the techniques, one-by-one at work.

In my group coaching program, Build Yourself Live Online we go out and test out new body language and communication styles in our day-to-day lives, while taking care to navigate some of the unique challenges women have to face along the way. (Do you know that when women speak 10%-30% of the time, the perception is that they’ve spoken over 50% of the time?)

We don’t just learn, we act.

And taking action is where the real change happens.

Step Three: Iterate

You rinse and repeat. If feels a little strange, or even scary at first, but it will get easier. Over time, you test and change this new way of being, and make it yours. Eventually you start to grow into it, and it grows into you.

And by acting like the person who we want to be, we start to change our minds into who we want to be.