Last Friday I was invited to attend the Forward Ladies Women in Business awards. One of the speakers was Rachel Hannan, who co-founded Gatenby Sanderson, a leading executive recruiter and now a business adviser and angel investor. As she shared her entrepreneurial journey, citing Angela Coutts as a role model, her message was for women to be more confident in putting themselves forward. This resonated as something that we women, are often reluctant to do.
Have you ever wanted to apply for a job but did not because you could not tick all of the 10 requirements? So you fixate on the 2 things towards the end of the list that you could not tick and convince yourself that you will never get the job so you don’t bother applying.
Or perhaps you know that you deserve a pay rise but dare not ask in case you are told ‘no’? The fear of being rejected is enough not to ask.
Or an opportunity has come up which will stretch you but you don’t feel able to put yourself forward because whilst you are competent and skilled, your belief in yourself is quite not 100% – there are those niggling self doubts.
Waiting for perfection and fear of failing are self imposed barriers that hinder our chances of achieving greater things and success. Self assurance and confidence in your abilities and self is as equally as important as competence.
A few years ago I came across a quote by Basil King ‘Be bold and might forces will come to your aid’. I was struck by its encouragement and optimism and have used it prolifically since – to take chances, to risk failure and at the same time to have that hope and optimism that others may, in my journey, come to my aid and support me. And sometimes the results are successful and positive and other times they have failed.
How do you take that step into the unknown, accept that failing and fear is part of life’s biggest learning opportunities and to go forward and Be Bold? Some of the things that have worked for me and my clients include:
Give yourself permission to be bold: Start off with the mindset that you have the power, inner resources and ability to do this. It is there within you. Give yourself permission to take that risk, to put yourself forward, to know that you don’t have to be perfect, to tick all the boxes…You might not get it right, you may a mistake, you may fail…and if you do, be compassionate towards yourself.
Be kind to yourself: This is not about self pity, indulgence or lessening your standards. It’s about remembering that you are human. If someone you cared about failed or was unsuccessful in a getting the results sought, would you berate them, tell them off …? What would you say or do? Do the same to yourself.
Identify and leverage your strengths: Be clear on your strengths and what you do best. Ask a range of people who know you well (boss, peers, friends..) to give you feedback on your what do well. Find ways to integrate your strengths into your daily tasks and activities. When you do things that you enjoy doing it makes you feel good, keeps you energised, engaged and boosts your resilience.
Plan and prepare: For example if you are negotiating for a pay rise ensure that you have done your homework. Find out the process and the layers of management involved. Get a benchmark salary range by finding out how much other people in similar roles, organisations, sectors get paid. Build a business case with evidence of skills, achievements, your value and how you go beyond the norm. Preparation, rehearsal and anticipating challenges ahead and your response to them can minimise the stress and fear of such situations
Stretch yourself: Being out of your comfort zone can be difficult, hard work, uncomfortable and harrowing at times. However, it is from undertaking such acts that we develop mental toughness, grow, progress and achieve our greatest accomplishments. Start by finding little things that will stretch you. This might be as simple as engaging in conversation with someone you don’t know, giving feedback to a colleague, trying out something new at work….As you build your confidence, step up and increase the stretch…and continue to do so throughout life.
Stay in your own lane: Stay focused and resist from comparing yourself and your performance to others. There will always be someone who makes more money, has more clients, does it better, gives a more polished presentation…than you.
Seek help: Do not be too proud to ask for help. There are many people out there who are willing to support, mentor, give advice…. Make a list of people who you think would be able to help you and be brave in asking for their support. They can only say no or refuse! Chances are one or two will be the ‘mighty forces’ that will come to your aid. In your journey you will find people who will buy into you and your story, when they offer help, seize it.
Reaching out for your help: On the 26 April, I will running my first London Marathonfor Children with Cancer UK. Rather than the usual fundraising activities, I have decided to use my strengths, what I do best and will benefit others. I came up with Be Boldwhich is a 1 day programme for women to step up, step out and be courageous to get ahead, progress, achieve results, success and fulfilment.
I am running 2 workshops on Saturday 7 Feb and 7 March with all proceeds to Children with Cancer UK. Please join me, tell your colleagues and friends about the event and help me to raise £2000. Alternatively, you can make a donation through my Fundraising page.
Thank you and hope that some ‘mighty forces’ will come to my aid. Vera