Many women are eager to not only claim their power but change the way society views power and leadership. They’re tired of being the only woman in the room, and I applaud their efforts as I have commonly been the sole woman leading companies in male-dominated industries. The challenge is true change never comes from waiting for a cultural shift. True change comes from individuals claiming their personal power, finding success first for themselves, and then inspiring others to do the same. So let’s discuss a few common challenges women overcome on their journey to claiming power and building confidence.
Fighting Your Feminine Approach
It’s helpful to be clear about the attitude you need to adopt in order to be seen and heard to encourage change – so, what is that for you? Women bring an element to leadership that is often better than the status quo because it can improve many organizational cultures. We don’t just want money and power; we want kindness and consideration. We want to bring others up with us as we’re natural nurturers, and this is a strength we bring to the world. We want to be heard, and we’re willing to listen to others. We don’t want to compartmentalize our lives; success for most women I know involves love, family, life balance, health, and business/career success.
The balance we bring to the organizations we lead offers a healthier way to function, building a better culture for everyone. To do things differently can sometimes be risky, and the price you may have to pay (backlash) is sometimes not worth it in a culture that only values competition, money, and power. In those situations, you have to pick your battles and decide when it is worthwhile to push back and when it isn’t.
Your Point of View
Are you a leader of yourself and others that looks up instead of with a level eye of deserving to be at the same level of respect? If you continuously hold others’ feedback and advice in a higher regard than your own, your point of view is likely getting in the way. Shifting your point of view to a level playing field and adopting the long vision to create the strategies that work for generations to come builds confidence from within. Understanding that confidence is not always about what you do but also who you believe you are and how you choose to act from that place of being/knowing can unlock new confidence levels.
Your beliefs have a direct impact on and sometimes drive, your action. Often a lack of confidence is about beliefs that are getting in your way. For example, many perfectionists are never satisfied; how can you feel good about your actions if you’re never perfect or good enough? Aiming for excellence is different from expecting full-blown perfection instantly and consistently.
Holding Onto Pain and The Beliefs of Others
Many of us have held onto pain from the past, driving beliefs that don’t serve us. For example, if you were bullied as a child, do you still hold the pain of others’ judgment? Always questioning what others think is often a losing game. You don’t have control over what others think of you, and if the pain often sneaks up on you in the back of your mind you may be judging yourself harshly, as others did, questioning if you are good enough or worthy as you are.
Then there are other beliefs that you may have taken on from others; parents, teachers, or society. For example, you were likely told who you were supposed to be at some point, like, girls should be sweet and pleasing listeners, or you’re too forward or athletic, and boys don’t like that; these beliefs are simply not true! The once normalized idea that women should be less smart and less strong, as defined by fear and force is antiquated and untrue. While society and these roles within modern society are changing, they still influence us if we haven’t resolved past confusion or unresourceful beliefs.
Another example is rigid religious rules that put women in “their place.” It used to be taught that women are all supposed to grow up and be nurturing mothers, wives, and daughters. These are perfectly good things, but it is limiting when this excludes other options or are perceived as the ONLY thing you can do. What if you are a loving mother who is also inspired to be an artist, scientist, or doctor?
80% of the women I work with, leaders, business owners, and upper-level executives still sometimes struggle with being heard, being seen, and just being too darn pleasing to be authentic. How do we find the balance to be strong and do what’s needed when we’re not honoring or valuing ourselves as much as we value others? This holds many women back from embracing and building their inner confidence and is more difficult when you feel alone in this plight. It’s important to have a network of others outside of your situation that you can talk with to share experiences and build camaraderie as you work to let go of the beliefs of others.
Questioning Your Truth
Why would you value what others think as if it’s better than what you think? When you recognize your truth firsthand, it is your only true reference. After all, where does truth come from? Someone else who recognizes their truth!
I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t trust any advice or ideas that are not yours. As we grow, we gain experience to discern what’s true. Yet the more you know for yourself, the more confidence you have because it’s a recognition of what you experience for yourself. Everyone I know has had painful experiences in their lives.
So, recognizing beliefs and removing the ones that no longer serve you is an important aspect of personal growth to uncover your confidence. It is well worth the effort to heal the wounds that have become weaknesses and keep you from living a life of full potential.
Finding Balance and Support
What if you’ve studied, practiced, and learned everything you can to be prepared, have plenty of experience, and don’t stand up for yourself because you don’t want to boast? Your perspective of a value you hold, likely humility, is getting in the way. I’ve heard this concern many times from my clients. The goal here is to find the balance and point of view that allows you to own who you are and what you know in order to express it.
No matter how much you practice, challenges arise in life. How do you counter bullying that you didn’t see coming or stand up for yourself when someone undermines or gaslights you in front of others; without responding in a way that plays into the game they’re baiting you to play? How will you get credit for your work instead of letting colleagues or your superiors take the credit you deserve? Who will stand up for you if you don’t? What is your strategy for stopping them in their tracks? These are some of the questions a Life Coach can help you to explore so you are prepared when it happens – and it happens all the time at every level of organizations, society, communities, and groups.
Even when we are authentic leaders for the teams we are responsible for and able to treat others as we would like to be treated, we still have to recognize the patriarchal culture we so often find ourselves in and use strategies that work for us. We have to be strong enough and confident enough to play the game better–instead of losing our confidence by being out-gamed.
Building your confidence in being who you authentically are is not something you can just muscle through. It’s about coming to terms with and releasing past pain and unresourceful beliefs, accepting and embracing your truth so that you can step into your next level of wisdom.
To your success,