I have always been one of those successful women who punch above their weight in my career. I just get on and do things I see need doing — and become indispensable to those around me as a result. But it took me a while to realise I was serving the dreams of others and not mine. That it was ‘those around me’ that were making me exhausted.
I had been working in London in investment banking before moving home to New Zealand as a result of the great financial crash. We had set up a lovely home in Wellington and I was the National General Manager of a recruitment company. It was a job I loved and I had a hardworking team I adored — but it wasn’t enough. I had all the accolades that comes with success but it was someone else’s definition of success.
I noticed I was tired of asking for permission to succeed.
It takes a lot of courage but one day I resigned. No job, a hubby and two kids to support and a mortgage to pay. It was scary but I’ve never felt freer!
Then I set to work figuring out WHAT IT WAS I actually wanted.
I started with the things I’m good at and enjoyed.
The areas I’m naturally good at are people, strategy, problem solving and advice. I’d always wanted to work in the business advisory space — but previous applications to the likes of Deloitte’s went nowhere because I had not followed the ‘normal’ path and didn’t have the ‘right’ degree.
So I applied to become a Business Advisor with a cooperative business that appeared to embrace experienced people with different backgrounds, and worked within a framework that allowed me to be part of something bigger — whilst setting my own path and being self-employed.
Everything was going well, I liked what I saw and was excited about sinking my teeth into this new career direction. I was at the final stages of interviews when the CEO asked me a question that completely threw me. The business currently had no female advisors and their average age was more than 20 years my senior (I fondly call them the ‘pale stale males’ as they’re mostly old white dudes) so he asked me:
“Do you think you will be able to build credibility with our clients who are used to a ‘different’ profile of advisor?”
Honestly? Seriously? WTF?
Here I was creating my own path to success and I was still being measured by someone else’s yardstick.
That was the day I stopped asking for permission to succeed. The world was never going to be ready for me so I would just have to suck it up and get on with it.
My answer to the CEO was that my differences would be a selling point, not an obstacle. I firmly believed that there were clients out there that were looking for different and would value the unique perspective I would bring. And I was right.
From the first conference I attended (only 3 weeks in) I questioned the status quo and challenged the ‘norm’. I wasn’t being deliberately disruptive — I was just questioning and enquiring (as much for my own knowledge and experience as anything else) and the most eye-opening aspect of that experience was how much the other advisors appreciated my input.
My differences WERE valued!
Fast forward two years and I’m one of the most successful business advisor in the history of the company. I became the youngest and first ever female shareholder and was then voted in as the youngest and first ever female Director.
The day I stopped asking for permission to succeed was the day I started being truly successful.
And more importantly it made me realise I didn’t need permission.
I had everything I needed to create my own momentum and succeed on my own. It’s the lesson that keeps giving. I’m not afraid of exploring ideas and now I ask ‘why not’ instead of ‘how’.
As a result the world is genuinely my oyster and opportunities abound. I have found the resources to invest in other businesses and I have recently launched a coaching programme to help women benefit from the lessons I’ve learned.
When I stopped asking for permission to succeed I started kicking ass in my career and life!
Kate Taylor is a leading New Zealand business woman and personal coach. Her signature programme ‘Killing It‘ (A Girls Guide To Kicking Ass In Her Life And Career) is a practical 6 month coaching programme designed to help women achieve the goals THEY want.
Priced at only $125 it is incredibly good value and is available at www.thatabstractcat.com
Originally published at drivenwoman.co.uk on June 18, 2017.