Several years ago, I was sitting in one of those all day corporate business meetings. As several hours stretched on, I started to become annoyed. It felt like the conversation was going in circles. Finally, we had a bathroom break.
As I walked in and sat down in the stall, I asked myself, “why are you feeling so annoyed?” I had an a-ha moment. We’d been hearing from the same voices all day long, and it felt like a car stuck in mud. Also, most of the voices were men.
I reflected - were there mostly men in the room that day? No, while the senior leadership team was men, nearly half of the room was women. I began to feel enraged, “Why don’t these women speak up?!” Then, almost as if the metal bathroom stall walls had a voice, I heard, “You could be the one to speak up.”
I was appalled. Who was I to speak up? I mean, I could speak up but first I’d need more experience (I’d worked there 11 years). But first I’d need more confidence. But first I’d need to know that people wouldn’t think I was stupid if I shared my idea.
My “but firsts” got me that day as I walked back into the conference room. I said nothing for the rest of the day and had to wrestle with my self doubt as I continued to listen to the same voices over and over again. I was frustrated.
I wasn’t able to recognize it then, because I didn’t have the words for it yet, but all my “but firsts” were stemming from plain old imposter feelings - the belief, despite all of my work, success and experience - that speaking up would just expose me as a fraud and I would be “found out” that I was not as smart as they thought and totally unqualified.
So, If I had a message that I could tell my younger self, a message I could tell all women, it would be this:
You are already qualified to advance your career and make impact - you don’t need another degree or certification. It might be tempting to hide because of self-doubt, but it doesn’t need to be a career killer. It’s time to stop overestimating everyone else’s intelligence and underestimating your own. Everything you need to be confident and successful is already within you and you’ll shine when you remove what’s in way of it. So, Just for today, Share your idea. Speak your voice. Lead with confidence. Trust yourself and take your bravest next step. ✨ Somebody is counting on your unique calling.
🔥 What message would you tell your younger self?
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