Own It, Baby
September 25, 2017
I was listening to a Ted Talk some time back with Sheryl Sandberg. (see below) In it she discussed three things she believes hold women back in the work world. For anyone who doesn’t know who Sheryl is, she’s the COO of Facebook in charge of monetizing the site. She’s a pretty big deal.
“Women,” she claimed, “are not making it to the top of any profession anywhere in the world.” And one of the reasons, she postulated, is that women need to change their mindset when it comes to success. Women do not acknowledge their achievements, not the way men do.
“Men attribute their success to themselves, and women attribute it to other external factors. If you ask men why the did a good job, they’ll say ‘I’m awesome.’
If you ask women why they did a good job, what they’ll say is someone helped them, they got lucky, they worked really hard.”
I’ve started noticing something very interesting about myself. No matter what I do, no matter what I achieve, I never really own it. Which is a pretty remarkable statement for someone who has climbed four of the seven summits, run two ultra-marathons, and started two businesses, all in the last seven years. In my mind, these “things” just sort of happened. The result of unchecked momentum, an indefatigable husband, and a willingness to blindly trod along.
Ask Walt, who accompanied me on a lot of this, for his take and he’ll tell you he’s in better shape than when he was 16. And that he’s got the drive and tenacity of ten average men. So it’s no wonder he did what he did.
Why do we women insist on selling ourselves short?
When I was growing up my mother drilled into me the notion of “humility.” If I crowed about something I’d done well, she’d say, “Don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back.” Good girls, in other words didn’t brag. According to Sheryl, this notion still plays out in the work world. Successful, confident men are likeable, women, not so much.
Rhonda Britten, author of Fearless Living, points out that our unwillingness to own our accomplishments can actually become a form of self abuse.
Beating ourselves up can also be a misguided form of modesty. We think we’ll have a better chance of being liked if we’re not too accomplished, not too threatening, not too powerful. We put ourselves down so others don’t feel uncomfortable. We’re afraid of being seen as vain so we downplay our strengths. …We would rather minimize ourselves by calling it luck or giving the credit elsewhere so that we don’t hurt anyone’s feelings or show anyone up.
According to Sheryl, no one gets the promotion if they don’t think they deserve their success, or if they don’t even understand their own success. I believe that nobody gets the great guy, the incredible opportunities, the rewards either. I believe that we get what we deserve and if we think we deserve shit, that’s exactly what we’ll get.
I started an acknowledgement notebook last year, a suggestion from Rhonda Britten. In it I make note of simple things I’ve done throughout the day worthy of praise. “They are about each and every small act of courage.” I hold myself to impossibly high standards, particularly in the eating department, so if I didn’t plow through an entire bag of almonds during a particularly stressful day, I make note. If I go to the gym to lift weights, and I hate lifting weights, I acknowledge that in my book. You get the picture.
Here’s how Rhonda sums this exercise up:
Acknowledging yourself for what you do will help you master your fear and motivate you to keep taking positive actions. Beating yourself up will keep you fearful and either immobilized or prone to doing things that aren’t good for you.
I think it’s high time I own my talents and deeds. Frankly, I’d like the sense of pleasure that should accompany my achievements, AND the promotion.
What do you think might happen for you if you kept your own acknowledgment notebook? Sassy wench that you are. Start now!