I recently read this quote somewhere: ‘People are capable of more than they think’ by Lao Tsu. It brought to mind something I have experienced, as well as heard expressed by other women.
At the advent of an exciting, albeit challenging assignment, we tend to oscillate between exhilaration and anxiety. And we even find ourselves asking if we really knew what we were thinking when we accepted the assignment. But as we start to look at the task in context, and to prepare for it, we realise it was neither as daunting nor as scary as we first thought.
And that is the problem with playing it safe, that when we let out initial anxieties get the better of us, we never get to experience all the ‘better, more, bigger’ that we are destined for. Our hidden strengths never come to life, and we miss opportunities because we would rather stay by our comfort zone.
We keep talking about being able to exhibit our value whether in negotiation or whenever we’re reaching for opportunities. But value goes beyond how we prove it to other people and into not only believing it, but seeing it in ourselves. In many cases, as women, our competencies outweigh our confidence, and the opposite is true of men. It explains why women have such a significant confidence gap in what they are truly capable of. Clarity on personal value is an ongoing process of reminding ourselves of our achievements and keeping track of all the ‘gold stars’ we have received.
Path less travelled
Sometimes, to truly be great, you have to take the path less travelled, be less of a conformist and make peace with having a point of view that is more contrarian to the crowd. Be willing to rock the boat, not every single time, but every single time you are dealing with an important or sensitive issue. There are times where in your personal and professional life you will have to make unpopular choices. Learn to live with it.
Set the trend
For your own sake and those coming after you, refuse to be intimidated, to tolerate being treated as ‘less than’. Drawing these boundaries is essential to making your mark and truly setting the stage for exploiting our potential.