We are women. Hear us roar.
Other days, not so much.
In fact, many days you might hear many of us beating ourselves up, talking ourselves down and selling ourselves short.
I know this to be true because not only have I done it myself countless times, but as I travel around the world running programs to embolden women, I hear other women doing the same.
Smart women. Capable women. Highly credentialled women. Women working very hard trying to scale the high bar they set for themselves yet continually feeling like they’re falling short on some measure; that they’re just not ‘enough’ in some way.
Not smart enough.
Not attractive enough.
Not successful enough.
Not talented enough.
Not experienced enough.
We spin plates, juggle balls, move mountains… or we certainly try to. Yet that little voice rarely lets up, constantly critiquing what we haven’t done or should have done better.
In the process we allow our self-doubt to wield too much power in our lives. At least more than the no-more-talented-than-us men we work and share them with. As Kathy Calvin, President of the United Nations Foundation shared in my new book You’ve Got This!
“We women hold ourselves back. We think we aren’t experienced enough when in fact we are.”
So as we celebrate International Women’s Day, we owe it to ourselves to get off our own case, stop selling ourselves short and dare to make the difference our difference makes.
How can you do that? In small ways, in big ways, in brave ways. We begin by owning our own humanity – our strengths, our struggles, our virtues and vulnerabilities – and stepping into the power we’ve always had but have so long felt disconnected from.
So, give yourself a moment between plate spinning to think about what you’d do differently if you decided to show up today fully grounded in your innate value and committed to backing yourself to the full. Here’s 5 ways to get you started:
-1- Make a brave request and ask for what you really want.
Too often we reject ourselves before anyone else has the chance. We do it by not asking for what it is we want or diluting down what we ask for to avoid the risk of seeming needy or difficult or, worst of all, being rejected. But asking for what you truly want – in your job, your relationships, or frankly, any aspect of your life – correlates very highly with getting it.
If any thought remotely resembling “Who am I to ask for that?” has ever rumbled through your head, try flipping it on its head by asking: “Who am I not to ask for that?”
-2- Embrace discomfort and take the chance.
Women are naturally more cautious than men yet sometimes we can play it too safe and deprive ourselves of valuable opportunities that come from daring to do more than feels comfortable. Nothing worth doing comes with a guarantee of success. So don’t wait to feel brave because, as I share in this video, growth and comfort can’t ride the same horse.
-3- Say no to others so you can say Yes! to yourself
If you’ve ever been delighted when someone has canceled a commitment, then you’ve experienced JOMO – Joy Of Missing Out. Yet it begs the question: why did you make that commitment to begin with? So many women feel stretched too thin because they say yes too often for fear of how saying no might land. We like to please and we’re loathed to disappoint. But unless you’re willing to say no to what doesn’t align with your deepest values and highest aspirations, everyone else’s priorities will trump your own. Who’s that serving? If you zoom up high enough, no-one.
-4- Speak your truth, sans apologies.
Sure, unconscious gender biases put women at risk of backlash when they speak assertively and don’t comply with feminine ‘play nice and fit in’ communal norms. Yet we also put our own fulfillment and self-respect at risk when we don’t speak up and opt to stay quiet and hold back from giving voice to what’s weighing us down.
This isn’t about being bossy or bitchy. It is about making a stand for yourself and sharing your opinion, respectfully, but directly. No apologies. No minimizing. We will never dismantle outdated ‘think manager, think male‘ gender norms by complying to them.
-5- Defy your doubts and bet on yourself
The doubting voices in your head will never over-estimate your abilities. Rather they’ll sell you short every time. Giving the voice of your inner critic the power to call the shots sets you up to never realize how little reason you ever had to doubt yourself to begin with.
“I don’t like to gamble,” Beyoncé said, “but if there’s one thing I’m willing to bet on, it’s myself.”
So do yourself a favor and decide that today you’re going to bet on yourself.
Then tomorrow, repeat. A year from now, you’ll be so glad you did. So too will many others. After all, changing the world around us begins with changing the world within us.
When you let your doubts call the shots, you don’t just sell yourself short, you short change the world.
Let’s change that.
Margie Warrell is passionate about emboldening people to live and lead more bravely. Her latest book is You’ve Got This! The Life-Changing Power of Trusting Yourself (Wiley.)