When I *ONLY* Got 98%
I went to an event for Female Founders yesterday, one of the speakers was the Head of Journalism & Media at Nottingham Trent University. A very experienced, ex BBC broadcaster, she mentioned that she’d won 8 awards but never talked about them or had them on display. There was then a brief discussion about how we, as women, generally don’t blow our own trumpets much.
Another of the speakers touched upon it too and went on to talk about how much some of the things said to us as kids/teens still has an impact on us as grown women and can keep us playing small instead of stepping into our power.
Who do you think you are? Has anyone ever asked you that? You might have even asked it of yourself if you start getting ideas ‘above your station’. I was brought up in the Northwest, things were played down. You couldn’t be proud of yourself, or you were seen as be cocky or described as being “peas above sticks”. Rather than saying well done and leaving it there, my form teacher on my school report, at 12 years old, said I needed to be mindful of being overconfident when I’d got straight A’s.
The message I got from an early age was not to brag. Don’t show off. Keep your light under a bushel. You can do your best but when you do well, don’t get complacent ask yourself why you weren’t even better. Even before that there was a time, at primary school, where I remember being worried about telling my dad I’d “only” got 98% in my maths test because Derek Walker had got 99%...my 6 year old belief was that I wasn’t good enough.
This deep-rooted attitude isn’t helpful generally, but especially as a woman in business when it comes to marketing and self-promotion. A lot of people talk about imposter syndrome, I’m not sure I fall into that category, but I know for sure that I generally downplay stuff as a result of my upbringing – both the good and the bad. I shrug things off. There’s always someone better at it than me or someone worse off etc.
I suppose my musings for today are a message to myself (and anyone else who needs to hear it) is that you are YOU just as you are. Recognise yourself. Know who you are and stay on your own path, in your own shoes. Remember why you want to go where you’re heading and make sure it’s for the right reasons – not because you need to beat Derek Walker at a maths test.
Credit where credit is due
On the whole, I do think men find it easier to big themselves up and are more confident around their capabilities than women. A friend and I were chatting about this recently. She was considering applying for a job and while she met the majority of the criteria, there were a couple of points she was lacking in. She was thinking about not even putting her application forward. Completing a job application well is a skill in itself. I saw some corkers when I was shortlisting for teaching staff as the prison education manager that’s for sure! According to a recent study, statistics show that women are far less inclined to self-promote even when a job with higher pay is at stake. Societal norms are mentioned, and self-evaluation is just another example of where there is a gender gap.
How are you at acknowledging what you have achieved as opposed to what you haven’t? Do you give yourself credit where credit is due?
Stay in your own lane
I remember when I used to go swimming. I went to the ‘Swim for Relaxation’ session and enjoyed 45 minutes of head out of the water breaststroke. Despite it being swimming for relaxation, there were still lanes open labelled ‘medium’ and ‘fast’ for the more serious swimmers but no rules or guidelines as to what that actually means.
It was basically about self-evaluation. You decided where to grade yourself. I noticed people in the medium and fast lanes some days where I was pretty much keeping up with them. But I considered myself a fairly slow swimmer. As there were no guidelines or lifeguards with stopwatches it struck me that what is fast one day might be slow another, depending on who is swimming alongside you at the time.
Pretty much in the same way in business - it’s about self-perception and confidence. Where you put yourself depends on who you’re comparing yourself to. It can make you feel inadequate if you’re swimming in the wrong lane.
“When you give up comparing yourself to other people, you’ll be free to focus on your best effort.” Amy Morin
A great reminder to work on being the best you can be without comparing yourself to others because comparisonitis steals confidence and joy.
I recall having real mix of emotions last year in the aftermath of the success of the FAB Business Club birthday event. I’d got so much AMAZING feedback from the fantastic women who attended telling me how great it was, how much they’d enjoyed it etc etc...it was all good stuff. The event had totally rocked, and I was absolutely over the moon with that.
But there were a couple of things that made me feel a bit uncomfortable...and I felt a tad uneasy even admitting it...
I often bang on about how important it is to accept compliments graciously and not brush them off? They are given to you and are therefore a gift. It was then I realised that I *still* had some work to do on myself.
I’m OK when I get compliments about my dress, my hair, my make up etc – that’s all good. That’s acceptable, I know that to be true. I work to achieve that.
I’m OK when I get compliments about the meetings and essentially, my work, my business. That’s also acceptable as I know that to be true too. I work to achieve that too.
The work I need to do more of is on my self-belief. Several people had written lovely things about me being inspirational and that overwhelmed me. I *don’t know* these things to be true.
The beautiful words from those kind, generous people needed to land with me. I needed to not only accept the compliments graciously, but I need to *believe*.
On a daily basis it’s too easy to forget to pause and to celebrate your achievements before moving on to the next job in hand. I’m definitely guilty of this. I take things for granted. My coach and my accountability buddy both made me aware of this a couple of years ago. I’m still work in progress, but I am trying harder to take stock of what I do well and acknowledge it. I’ve done a lot of work in terms of self-awareness and self-development over the years. I’ve unpacked a lot of baggage and I’m currently working quite intensively with someone and digging even deeper, it’s fascinating stuff. I’m much better at acknowledging and celebrating my achievements than I ever was but that little girl who didn’t think she was good enough because she only got 98% is still there at times. The self-limiting beliefs are getting well and truly ousted before I hit 60 later this year because I’ve got BIG stuff to do!
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