As powerful women, why are we so quick to focus on our mistakes instead of our accomplishments?
“Mommy! Watch what I can do!” my six-year-old daughter recently screamed as I walked through the door from work. I set my things down in time to see her climbing the door frame (quite impressive, I might add), beaming with pride as she touched the ceiling.
After being surrounded by a room of discouraged women in a rough meeting earlier that day, I was immediately struck by the disconnect between my own internal dialogue and self-defeating thoughts and the pride I encourage my daughter to feel and embrace.
As women — in our quest for perfection and the personal responsibility we so easily take on for the success of our endeavours — we easily become paralysed by our own expectations of ourselves. We have a selection bias by which we focus extensively on our mistakes and systematically ignore our accomplishments. We often straddle the line between our careers and home lives and are never quite sure which set of social norms apply at the moment. Between a nonexistent work-life balance, strained relationships, faltering mental health, insurmountable problems to solve and very, very little encouragement, it seems like our own internal negativity and self-defeating beliefs are the least of our worries.
This is the most dangerous lie we can embrace — our most dangerous enemy is not our mistakes and failures. It’s not our current situation, our cash-flow problems, or even bad markets. Our most dangerous enemy is what we choose to accept as an accurate perception of ourselves, our situations, our potential, and our success — even if the false perception we accept is our own. Below are three strategies for combating self-defeating beliefs and achieving new heights in your career.
- Steal the big “B” from the boys. I’m talking about bragging. Men have been bragging about themselves, their talents, their accomplishments (you name it, really) since the beginning of time. It’s not that women are above bragging, but it seems like men are more comfortable and experience less guilt when relaying tales of how well they executed a project, made a play or won in fantasy football that week. Women should brag more often, even if only inside our own minds. Instead of second guessing our choices, downplaying our successes and emphasising our weaknesses, we need to take a cue from our male counterparts and give credit where credit is due. Bragging is actually a form of self-care and vital for building confidence. Confidence in your accomplishments engenders confidence from others in you as well. If you have it, flaunt it!
- Get to the heart of it. Do you put yourself down when you don’t anticipate a future outcome? When you forget a deadline? When you react harshly to your team? The triggers to your insecurities are important clues to locating the source of the issue. Determining the core problem allows you to effectively deal with the root cause and stop it from manifesting repeatedly. If you constantly berate yourself when you miss a deadline, maybe the core issue is a lack of discipline in planning. Maybe you fall off course when you rescue those around you from disorganisation. The point is that when you isolate the root cause, you can control the outcome and work on that habit. By changing your perception of the problem from an inherent character flaw (“I ALWAYS miss my deadlines. I hate when I let others down.”) to a changeable habit (“I can pay closer attention to saying no to others and learn to meet deadlines better.”), you enable yourself to grow.
- Be yourself. That’s right — flaws and all. So much of the time, we attempt to be the standardised version of a role: CEO, mother, friend, wife. We set impossible standards for ourselves that we would never expect of others. Take the same compassion you show others and turn it on yourself. If we wouldn’t say something to our daughters, our sisters, or our loved ones, we must not say it ourselves. Stop confusing self-awareness with self-bullying. Put the emotional baseball bat up and affirm yourself every chance you can. When you do, you will suddenly find yourself able to reach new heights.
Jenny Kincaid is the Founder/CEO of Mind Above Matter, LLC. She has over a decade worth of experience in the behavioral health care industry. Jenny has held positions in numerous healthcare settings, including inpatient care, outpatient care, hospice and skilled nursing. Jenny’s passion is advocating for the World’s vulnerable, changing societal perceptions of mental health, and improving the quality of care in the Mental Health Industry.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organisation comprising the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship programme that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
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