Is Your Analysis Paralysis Holding You Back? Growth Hack #3

I’m writing this week about some of the ways I see women get lost in the crowd and slow down their career growth.

How many times have you seen a woman raise her hand timidly in a meeting… and then make a suggestion in that baby girl voice.. trailing off at the end into a question?

When that happens, here’s what we hear:

“What if we [this is a good time to zone out because this is just a filler comment] maybe, you know, changed our marketing focus [this must a bad idea because she doesn’t even believe it] from Live Journal to Facebook?” [hmmm…. Would it look bad it I took another cookie?]

Leaders make choices. They take positions.

Sometimes they’re wrong and sometimes they’re right.

But they’re willing to take a stand instead of dithering.

Do you dither? Do you hesitate to speak up? Do you have a hard time making decisions? That might be why you’re getting lost in the crowd.

I’m a reformed wishy washy decision maker….. Yes, of the paper-plastic variety. I can see all the possibilities—which is sometimes a great skill for a creative….but that knowledge used to make me get overwhelmed and frozen. Unable to choose. A

I was so, so afraid of getting it wrong.

But I unlearned that habit because I knew it was holding me back. And it not only supersized my career growth, it made my life better as well.

 

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Are You Too Exhausted to “Lean In?” Growth Hack #2

Yeah, yeah, you’ve heard the advice—lean in, lean in!

But do you ever think, that’s just so much flipping work….?

hughhhhh (exhausted sigh.)

Maybe you’re a working mom, working the ‘double shift…’ no, wait, it’s probably more like the triple shift—working a long day, coming home to take care of your family, and then logging in a few more hours at night. Or maybe you’re balancing putting in the hours while you pay your dues…study for professional development tests……and then go out multiple times a week to check your networking box.

I just got so exhausted writing this, I had to take a break.

But now I’m back…. With the second way I see women get lost in the crowd and slow down their career growth.

I see a lot of exhausted women come through Build Yourself Workshop…. And I see a lot of exhausted women decline to take Build Yourself, because they’re so exhausted they feel they just don’t have the time.

But I’ve also seen women break through.

I’ve seen the busy business owner take the time upfront to hire a project manager—it felt like she’d never make the time to hire—but once she did, it took less time than she thought to find the right person. And doing so allowed her to show up at 100% for the high-level clients she was booking.

I’ve seen the working mother get a promotion—and go home in time to be with her daughter. And she told me she had time to craft. To CRAFT? What working mother you know who has time to craft?

So what’s the secret? These women are working smarter not harder.

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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.

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They’re sitting right next to you.

Today, I wanted to share three stories that I’ve collected on what it can feel like to be a woman or person of color in my field – architecture. Names and identifying details have been altered, but the basic structure of these stories is true—and they are recent. They are not from the 1950s or 1960s, they are from today.

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Confidence Hack #3: Make the Investment

When I first started my business, I found myself staring down an empty work calendar. I was totally unbooked–except for one tiny little workshop gig. I didn’t know how to get work, I didn’t know what I what I was selling. I had no clue what to say at cocktail parties.

I felt like an impostor.

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My Business Name is My Wingwoman

I’ve written to you before about how I see issues of confidence as the #1 thing that holds women back from their full potential — no matter where they are in their career — it just shows up in different ways.

For that reason, I’ll soon be releasing Defeat Self Doubt, a mini course that I’ve created to help you put self doubt to the side. It will help you rewire your brain for more confidence and ease. Rewiring your brain is all about little hacks that help you build a new reality that you first start to live–then start to believe. Over the next few weeks I want to share with you a few hacks that I used to do that for myself, especially when starting my business–which was imposter syndrome central for me.

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Three Men, No Eye Contact

Last weekend I went to a conference and found myself in small conversation–just me and three other men. I very quickly noticed that they were only making eye contact with each other–and even more frustratingly–one of them even had his body turned away from mine–effectively closing me out of the conversation.

I was so frustrated and angry. I wanted to rant and rave. I wanted to jump up and down like a child screaming, “But I’m an empowerment coach! I teach women how to hold power.”

“I have alpha-body language! I’m doing everything right!
You can’t do this to me!”

But there’s the rub. Women’s power is not just dependent on us doing our part to move past the internalized barriers that hold us back–it’s also dependent on the world we operate in and the unconscious bias that everyone carries.

These guys were not trying to be sexist–conversely, they are part of a community that was founded in part on gender parity. But they also live in a world in which a man’s opinion is worth more than a woman’s. We all unconscionably perform these assumptions–like the time I automatically complimented a female friend on a dish, and didn’t even think to compliment her male partner. (He had, in fact, actually been the chef.)

I was so pissed off last weekend that I walked off in a huff–something I’m not proud of. But in a situation like that, what do you do? Do you explicitly call someone out and say, “Can you please change your body language, it expresses your unconscious belief that I’m less worthwhile because I’m a chick?” Do you avoid these groupings all together (“If they don’t need us, we don’t need them!”) or is there another answer?

In truth, it’s complicated, and there are different answers for different situations.

It’s hard to rise at a company that structurally and intractably doesn’t value women, but most of the time, there are ways through.

And I’m on a mission to find those ways out.

The next day I ran into a wise-woman at the same conference. This sixty plus-year old woman fits the classic typology of sassy lady. She’s been leaning in her entire life–running a business and making big decisions for her family. She regularly gets mistaken for a secretary or aide at the industry conferences she goes to, even though she’s the big boss.

“I would have just said, ‘Excuse me, can you turn a little bit? I’m having a hard time seeing the other guy,'” she said when I told her about my experience. Brilliance!

Sometimes the simplest approach is the best, and sometimes we let ourselves get distracted, and a small moment can blow up into the overwhelming feeling that we’ll always have to work twice as hard as the guys to get anywhere, and the futility of it all can be demoralizing. But don’t let that happen. Stay the course because you will get there, and there are always chinks and cracks in the walls ahead of us.