I recently addressed a large audience of women at the annual NAPW conference in New York City. I asked them to raise their hands if they considered themselves to be ambitious. Most everyone raised their hands with much enthusiasm. I then asked them to keep their hands up if they were ready to take action for their ambition. All the hands stayed up.
That was a great response but in reality how many of us truly believe that our ambition will be rewarded and recognized? How many of us believe we are worthy of this recognition and most importantly, how many of us will take positive action to realize our goals? The truth is that the negative preconceived perceptions we have about our ability to succeed will sabotage our success. And these deeply held beliefs we have about not being good enough will continue to work against our success no matter how ambitious we say we are.
These belief systems are formed early in our development. Brain science teaches us that if we believe we are unworthy, we will continuously look for situations to validate that this is so. What this means is that on a conscious level, we look for opportunities to advance our careers, but on an unconscious level we seek to validate our unworthiness. This unconscious pursuit will undermine our promotion efforts unless we are aware of our limiting beliefs in this area.
According to Dr. Jacqui Grey, author of Executive Advantage,
“We look for evidence to validate our existing beliefs, and the filters ensure that is all we see. These form patterns which our brains recognize, sometimes erroneously because our brains are recognition machines: they will take the best pattern match rather than look for contrary evidence.”
This is tricky, isn’t it? How do we counter this unconscious sabotaging behavior?
Dr. Grey states,
“Executives can substantially improve their promotion prospects just by looking for evidence that confirms their capabilities rather than their flaws.”
Keeping a success journal can help you to disregard your preconceived perceptions and build new neural pathways to support more positive beliefs.
To help you figure this out, ask yourself these questions:
Am I ambitious?
Do my actions support my ambition?
If not, what is really getting in the way?
Perhaps your self-doubt is the answer. Perhaps you truly don’t believe you are worthy of success. Understanding what possible limiting beliefs you may have and how they are keeping you from reaching your goals is critical to taking positive action to support your ambition.
This week’s discussion is about how to balance the competing interests of a challenging career and personal life. Our feelings of happiness come from being successful in both, yet the stress from trying to manage the expectations and responsibilities can often be overwhelming.
My guest this week is Susan Smith Blakely. Susan knows what it takes to succeed in the practice of law. During her 25 years of experience she has viewed the legal profession from many perspectives—as a law firm associate, counsel and partner, and as a chief of staff to an elected official in the public sector. As the wife of a fellow litigator and the parent of two children, Ms. Blakely has first- hand knowledge of the difficult decisions women lawyers must make in terms of work and family life.
Ms. Blakely’s first book Best Friends at the Bar: What Women Need to Know about a Career in the Law, is the first true guide book for young women contemplating law school, young women law students and young women in their first years of law practice.
Her second book, Best Friends at the Bar: The New Balance for Today’s Woman Lawyer, digs deeper into the issues of work-life struggle and balance and proposes a new balance of work/self/home and family to attain the happiness and satisfaction that will keep young women in the law profession
I’m so excited that spring has arrived here on the east coast! Even in the morning when it’s still a little chilly there are signs that spring is here. You hear birds chirping. You see some brave little flowers testing the warmth of the sun. And of course, the days are longer!
Spring is a time of rebirth and rejuvenation. On my run this morning, I felt the new energy that comes with this season. It’s a wonderful sense of well-being and passion for my life and work. It’s also a great feeling of unlimited potential.
As I was running, I was thinking about this blog and how I might pass along these thoughts to all of you. My hope is that you are also ready to step out of your comfort zone, escape complacency, and spring forward with your career and life. Are you ready?
Answer these questions:
- Do you wake up in the morning excited about your day?
- Do you feel challenged in your work?
- Do you ask for new responsibilities or volunteer for new projects?
- Do you fall into bed at night exhausted but feeling you truly accomplished something?
- Do you see a clear career path for yourself in your present company that aligns with who you are?
- Do you have a defined career goal?
- Do you have a strategic plan to reach that goal?
- Are you ready to face your fear or self-doubt that may be holding you back from springing forward?
- Do you feel that your boss/company appreciate the work you do?
- Do you feel empowered to take control of your career?
If you answered “yes” to these questions, I applaud you! You are ready to spring forward!
If by reading these questions, you realize that you are stuck in your current job situation or your own internal barriers, what are you ready to do to move forward? Sometimes it only takes one baby step to start the process.
For today, define what that one step is and commit to it. It’s the season to spring forward and leave your fears and complacency behind.
Last Friday at the Bay Path Women’s Conference, I listened intently to Queen Latifah talk about her career and her bold move at 17 as a hip hop star to call herself “Queen Latifah”. She said Latifah was always her nickname, but putting “Queen” in front of it was certainly a bold statement, especially at such a young age. But she did it and the rest is history!
This made me think about the different bold moves I’ve made in my own life and career and specifically what has prompted me to step out of my comfort zone at times. I’ve always been a bit of a risk taker, but a risk taker in a very strategic way. Sure, sometimes I do things impulsively but for the most part I seek opportunities to move my career forward and evaluate those opportunities that present themselves to determine if they make sense for me and where I am in my career.
After having been with one company for 9 years and losing a promotion, I took a tremendous leap out of my comfort zone. I moved from the east coast to Chicago to run a national healthcare company. It was a huge step up to be a CEO and I could have easily talked myself out of it. “I’m not ready to do this.” “It’s scary to move away from my family and friends.” “I am afraid I’m not good enough.” I’m sure you’ve all had similar thoughts, but in the end despite my fear I was bold and made the move and I’m happy that I did. It was a turning point in my career.
Being bold can be different things to different people. In some cases, it’s taking on a new job, changing careers, leaving work to raise a family. In some cases it’s calling yourself “Queen”.
In the end, Queen Latifah said she was comfortable enough in her own skin to celebrate who she is, as she is and told the women in the audience to strive for the same.
“Be bold, be brave enough to be your true self,” she said.
What bold move have you done lately?
When Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, announced a couple of weeks ago that she is changing the current work from home policy and prohibiting employees from working remotely, this not only raised a few eyebrows but initiated many conversations across social media and in the hallways and C-Suites of corporate America.
Advances in technology have contributed to the popularity of virtual employees. The benefits for businesses have been reduced overhead and increased employee retention. But what are some of the other issues that arise as we move more toward this flexible work environment? And what does this all mean for women who are seeking more flex time?
Joining me today for this discussion are Linda Descano, Managing Director and Head of Digital Partnerships, Content and Social, North America Marketing, Citi; and President and CEO, Citi’s Women & Co. Linda is also President and CEO of Women & Co., a service of Citi that brings women relevant financial content and thoughtful commentary to get them thinking and talking about money.
Also joining me is Jacky Carter. Jacky is a Community Manager at LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional networking site. She oversees Connect: Professional Women’s Network, an online community where she helps more than 100,000 women have meaningful conversations about their careers. To join the community for free, visit www.linkedin.com/womenconnect.
Connect, powered by Citi, launched in April 2012 and is not only the largest women’s group on the site, but the most-engaged group on LinkedIn. It’s the first-of-its-kind digital destination for women to network, discuss, and share their career success stories.
I finally hit a wall. I thought I was superwoman. I foolishly believed I had some kind of super power that would shield me from this flu bug that knocked everyone off their feet. But after weeks of traveling, speaking, a heightened workload, and moving, that nasty bug finally caught up with me and I’m flat out.
It made me think that I’ve always had this “superwoman” identity my whole career; thinking that there was nothing I couldn’t conquer if I set my intention to doing it. I was a single mom building a career with two young children trying to break through the glass ceiling in companies run and sometimes owned by men. Determined and passionate, I always had the energy to power through any obstacle…that is, until I periodically dropped of exhaustion.
I believe many of us suffer from this superwoman demon. We think we can do it all and we drive ourselves forward with great determination until we run out of fuel. Our bodies remind us time and time again that we are mere mortals and because of that, we need to take the time to take off our cape and take it easy. Why don’t we ever see the wall up ahead that we are certain to hit forcefully if we don’t put on the brakes?
I’m one of those people who believe that there is nothing that can’t be conquered with intention and passion. What happens in the process, however, is burn out.
Sticking to a good routine of a healthy diet, regular exercise, meditation and reflection (in my case journaling) helps all of us superwomen to avoid collisions with big brick walls.
Right now, I need to make some more tea and honey and nurse my wicked cold. It will take a few days before I can put my cape back on and conquer the world.
Can you relate to any of this? Do you qualify as a superwoman? Building a career? Raising children?
Last week we got 24 inches of snow in Connecticut. My car was safe and out of harm’s way in the garage, but as I witnessed the snow piling up and the wind blowing it started to occur to me that I needed to do something with all the snow in the driveway or I would be stuck for days.
I had no one to call to plow. The roads were closed to anything but emergency vehicles anyway. It was very clear that it was up to me to dig out.
Faced with a 50 foot long driveway and two feet of snow, I knew I needed a strategy. The task seemed overwhelming so my plan was to “chunk it down” and break it up into a manageable workload. In other words, I shoveled 15 feet at a time. Then I came inside, stretched on my yoga mat, grabbed something to eat or drink, rested for an hour, and repeated this until the driveway was cleared.
The result was I managed to shovel all this snow without hurting myself and without even any muscle soreness.
What was the lesson?
Very often we are overwhelmed by projects and our to-do lists. When things begin to pile up, we tend to get overwhelmed and sometimes paralyzed by the amount of work we need to complete. Add family responsibilities and other obligations on top of the work load and we stress out.
A strategic approach and “chunking it down” makes any project doable without some of the harmful after effects like burnout, stress, insomnia that may accompany our sense of overwhelm.
What project on your to-do list seems overwhelming to you right now? Can you “chunk it down” and spare yourself the stress?
Women now find themselves working with other women in large numbers at all levels of the corporate structure. This can be good, but it can also be very intense and horrible. Instead of harmony, there can be power struggles, sabotage and downright meanness and today we’re going to talk about how women can make the best of the worst situations with other women in the workplace and joining me to offer some great practical advice on this subject are my guests, Katherine Crowley and Kathi Elster.
Katherine Crowley is a Harvard trained psychotherapist and Kathi Elster a management consultant and coach. Their company is K Squared Enterprises. Since 1989, they’ve combined their expertise to develop a unique method for dealing with difficult people and challenging conditions at work.
Bestselling authors, educators, public speakers, and executive coaches, Katherine and Kathi are experts in the area of professional fulfillment through self-awareness and self-management.
They have appeared on Good Morning America, CNN, The Today Show, Good Day NY and many radio shows. Together they’ve written Working for You isn’t Working for Me, Working with you is Killing Me, and now their latest book, Mean Girls at Work: How to Stay Professional When Things Get Personal.
Today we are going to talk about resilience and how important it is for us to be flexible and adapt to the changes we are presented in our personal and professional lives. Though we can be strategic about our careers, life always throws us some unexpected obstacles. Despite our best intentions and well thought out planning, we are often challenged to change direction and adopt a new course to move our careers and personal lives forward. How we face these unforeseen obstacles and how well we adapt will affect our success going forward.
Joining me is Susan Adams. Susan Adams combines her career passions for teaching, research, and consulting in her current position as Senior Director of Bentley University’s Center for Women and Business and Professor of Management. The Center is dedicated to supporting, retaining and promoting women in business by sharing solutions for advancing women’s careers. Susan publishes regularly in leading academic and practitioner outlets, focusing on professional advancement and organizational effectiveness. Her academic insights, shared in and out of classrooms of undergraduates, MBAs, PhDs and executives, are enhanced by her consulting work with over 100 corporate and executive clients. Susan has served on and chaired boards of companies and non-profit organizations. She is a former Chair of the Management Consulting and Careers Divisions of the Academy of Management and a member of the American Psychological Association and the Society of Human Resource Managers. She earned her PhD in management from Georgia Institute of Technology, MEd in mathematics from Georgia State University and BSEd in mathematics from the University of Georgia after attending the University of Hawaii. Susan is the proud mother of three and grandmother of two.
One of the first things I recognized at the onset of my long journey to Kenya was that I would be —unplugged— and disconnected from my smartphone, email and social media for several days. I tell you this with the full recognition that I am addicted to technology. I am guilty of continuously checking email, having my phone on my bedside table at night, and all the bad habits associated with this addiction.
After my recent interview with Camille Preston, PhD,—author of Rewired, I see very clearly that I am “overwired” and have created a strong dependence on my iphone and computer for the continual access to information.
The consequence of being overwired is far reaching. This addiction affects your health, sleep patterns, your relationships. On the flip side, when you are not constantly connected, the result is that you are more productive. You work smarter and as a consequence achieve greater success in your career. Listen to the interview for more details.
So now I’m on a 20+ hour journey to a country where I cannot connect. Will it break me of my addictive behavior? Without the proper computer adapter, I must rely on my computer battery which is limited. I find myself only checking email a couple of times a day. It’s my only source of communication with my family, friends and business. I am amazed to discover that I can do this!
The interesting side note to all of this is that I am presenting at a women’s leadership conference in Nairobi. Women from six different east African countries and from different industries are present. What I find half way across the world may surprise you. They are also constantly connected to their blackberrys and phones! Who knew?
It still remains my intention to break myself of this unhealthy and unproductive behavior.
How many of you are overwired as well? Let’s create an intention together to:
- Not sleep with the phone at our bedside
- Not check email after 8 pm
- Unplug during meals
- Set a reasonable time table for checking emails and social media during the work day.
Are you with me?
Email me your intention and we can hold each other accountable and move together to live a better life and be more purposefully productive.