I had a client, a female attorney for a large healthcare system, tell me last week that when she approached her boss about her desire to move her career forward, he was surprised. That prompted me to think about our relationship to ambition, how others in the workplace view ambitious women, and how we translate our ambition into action.
Dictionary.com offers this definition of ambition: it’s “an earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction, as power, honor, fame, or wealth, and the willingness to strive for its attainment”. The second part of this definition is especially intriguing for me….”the willingness to strive for its attainment”.
How many of you would say you’re ambitious if you had to meet the criteria for the entire definition? because it’s one thing to have ambition and quite another to strive for its attainment or take action.
How many of you are silently ambitious because you’re fearful of letting others know that you want to get ahead; perhaps fearful of their reaction?
Do you associate ambitious people with cut throat, back-stabbing behavior and therefore, don’t want to be considered ambitious?
Is your relationship with “ambition” holding you back from striving for what you want?
And finally, is it considered politically correct for a woman to be ambitious in your workplace?
Understanding your own limiting beliefs about this topic is the first thing you need to address. Your next step is assessing the current political environment in your company to determine your best approach for advancing your career. There are many subtle and savvy ways to communicate and demonstrate your talent without blowing your horn too loudly.
The point is that if you are an ambitious woman still in the closet because you don’t know how to best navigate the workplace environment, you can learn how to create visibility and credibility for yourself with a sensitivity to both your comfort zone and your colleagues receptiveness.
If you’re ready to come out of the closet about your ambition and move your career forward, email me to schedule your 30 minute complimentary strategy session.
Have you noticed that it is now common to use the term “personal branding” instead of self-promotion?
Personal branding and self-promotion are, in fact, the same. I have come to believe that the term self-promotion is so off-putting for women that we will do almost anything to avoid it. Hence, it’s become the” pink elephant” in the room. We know it’s there and yet we don’t want to recognize its presence, hoping that somehow it will disappear. Its very existence is, in fact, threatening, overwhelming, and often scary. We’d rather dance around it rather than deal with it.
So now we call it personal branding and hope that with a new name it will be more acceptable and something that we can embrace instead of the uncomfortable concept of promoting ourselves. But I believe in calling a spade a spade. It’s still all about promoting yourself, and self-promotion remains an important key to your success as a woman in business today.
And the evidence is in. There have been a variety of studies and research that support the need for women to talk about their accomplishments in order to advance their careers, such as the Catalyst 2011 study, The Myth of the Ideal Worker: Does Doing All the Right Things Really Get Women Ahead. Intellectually, we understand the importance of differentiating ourselves and letting others know what we bring to the table. Emotionally, we get hung up in our limiting beliefs about the need to be humble and blend in, our need to be liked, our fear of rejection.
Well, it’s time to “man-up” and dance with the pink elephant. She’s not going away and your continual avoidance of her will only contribute to your lack of career and business success.
How do you dance with the Pink Elephant?
First, you need to change your mind set about promoting yourself. There were probably many things you didn’t want to learn and did anyway, right? Self-promotion is a necessary skill. (I remember how much I hated Algebra, but I realized its importance and learned it.)
Second, take the time to understand your value and what is unique about you. This is so important that I can’t stress it enough. You probably think you know what value you offer your organization, your clients, your community, your family and friends, but I would challenge you and say that unless you’ve taken some time and done some soul searching, you probably don’t know your value.
If you don’t know your value proposition, then promoting yourself will ALWAYS be uncomfortable and difficult. You will feel phony because you haven’t made the necessary connection with your unique value.
As I’ve said before, everything changes when you understand your value. You can then talk about yourself with confidence. You will speak up in meetings, voice your opinion, and take advantage of opportunities to showcase your talent.
Dance with the pink elephant. If you climb on board, you may just end up where you’ve always wanted to go!
Are you being stingy?
…by not letting others know what you have to offer?
…by not speaking up and sharing your opinion or ideas?
Sometimes we are so focused on our “own stuff” and our fears or discomfort talking about ourselves that we forget that what we have to offer helps others. That’s right! Think about it. What you have to offer, whether it’s a product, a service, an innovative idea or new approach to a problem or simply your opinion, helps other people and improves their lives and/or careers in an important way.
Re-framing this as an offer to help is a terrific way for you to move beyond your fear and discomfort and focus on what the other person needs. It gets you beyond the “stinginess” factor.
How would your next job interview go if you used this mindset, understood what you had to offer and focused on how it could help the company?
How would your next networking event go if you used this mindset when meeting new people, finding out what they need and offering your assistance?
How would your next senior management or department meeting go if you used this mindset and offered your ideas and opinion?
For the next few weeks, I am offering you the opportunity to write and tell me specifically ONE way you help your company or clients (what value you offer), and I will feature your “commercial” in a new section of my blog/newsletter.
Please include your name, position, company (company website or personal website) and email so that other women can contact you.
Looking forward to hearing from you!
According to Donald Asher, author of Who Gets Promoted, Who Doesn’t and Why, “Bosses assume that any employee who doesn’t ask for more is satisfied with his job.”
If this is accurate, which I suspect it is, why don’t we ask about opportunities to move up?
Our hesitancy to ask for a promotion is more than likely related to our overall fear of self promotion. When we contemplate asking for a promotion, that nagging voice in our head chimes in with, “Who do you think you are?”, “Do you really think you’re worthy of a promotion?” “Your boss will laugh at you!”, “Aren’t you full of yourself?”
Do any of these negative questions sound familiar to you?
It’s time to put aside the negative self talk and focus on your talent and what you bring to the table. Listening to the negative self talk is sabotaging your career and can very well stand between you and a promotion.
Has it every dawned on you to be proactive and take control of your career?
Has it very occurred to you to ask for a promotion?
In preparation for a conversation with your boss, I recommend you do a bit of homework.
- Write out your value proposition and accomplishments.
- Describe how the work you do benefits the organization and your boss or department in particular.
- Make it clear in your request for a promotion that it has nothing to do with not liking your boss. State up front that you enjoy working with him/her and love the organization and are interested in new opportunities to rise to the next level.
- Ask for information about new opportunities and what, if anything, you need to do to move up. Determine if you need additional skills or if you need to enlistÂ allies within the organization to support your promotion.
- Once you set your sights on a specific position, put a strategic action plan in place to communicate your value proposition to the key influencers and decision makers.
If advancing your career is what you want, you need to take action. Don’t assume that your boss knows that you are interested in moving up. Asking about new opportunities will lead to a dialogue about what is available and what you need to do to get promoted.
Join me for a free call, this Thursday, December 8th to help you communicate your value to others to get that promotion or get new clients. Using Benefit Language to Sell Your Way to Millions or Hit the Top Rung.
For more information and registration, click here.
If you donâ€™t raise your hand, you wonâ€™t be called on and maybe thatâ€™s a good thing; a good thing, that is, if you want to remain invisible and safe. After all, when you raise your hand, you are risking public failure. WhenÂ you raise your hand, you are sending a signal to everyone that you have the confidence to publicly state your opinion, volunteer for something, or ask a question (even at the risk of sounding clueless).
In an article written by Clay Shirky, a professor at NYU, titled â€śA Rant About Womenâ€ť, he says
â€śTo put yourself forward as someone good enough to do interesting things is, by definition, to expose yourself to all kinds of negative judgments, and as far as I can tell, the fact that other people get to decide what they think of your behavior leaves only two strategies for not suffering from those judgments: not doing anything, or not caring about the reactionâ€ť.
He points out in the article that women are more apt to do nothing and less apt than men to take risks and take advantage of important opportunities that may present themselves because they fear failure. He feels women are more concerned with what other people may think of them than what they want to achieve.
This type of behavior definitely has a negative impact for women when it comes to advancing their careers. If we are fearful of taking risks and taking advantage of new opportunities, we will not progress.
Why donâ€™t we raise our hands more? It boils down to fear of failure, fear of what other people will think of us,Â lack of self-confidence, and most importantly, our belief that self-promoting behavior is not appropriate or acceptable.
Further in the article Clay writes:
â€śAnother of my great students, now a peer and friend, saw a request from a magazine reporter doing a tech story and looking for examples. My friend, whoâ€™d previously been too quiet about her work, decided to write the reporter and say â€śMy work is awesome. You should write about it.â€ť
The reporter looked at her work and wrote back saying, â€śYour work is indeed awesome, and I will write about it. I also have to tell you you are the only woman who suggested her own work. Men do that all the time, but women wait for someone else to recommend them.â€ť
When I look back at my own career, I can see that every major turning point involved me stepping up and raising my hand in some way. Yes, I will take the job to run a cardiac rehab center even though I have no business experience.Â Yes, I will move to Chicago from the east coast to run a company when I have never been a CEO before. Yes, I will leave corporate America to start my own business because I believe in my ability to be successful. And most recently, I said â€śyesâ€ť to VoiceAmerica when they called to ask me to become a radio host. I had no experience, but my belief in myself and my willingness to fail Â (in a very public way I might add) were major factors.
This is why I now focus my efforts on helping women promote themselves; because quite simple, we donâ€™t raise our hands enough. Yes, there are many possible reasons why we are not better at self-advancement, but the consequences of not doing this well have a huge impact on the progress of women in business.
As women, we need to speak up more and create visibility for ourselves whether it’s in a meeting, an interview with media, or a conversation with colleagues at work. This topic comes up over and over again in my discussions with clients as well as guests on my radio show. In my recent interview with Toddi Gutner, the hesitancy of women to speak up and stand out surfaced again.
In the interview, Toddi talks about how important it is for women as a group to become more visible in the media. Visibility in the media supports and contributes to women’s leadership initiatives across all industries and government. The White House Project’s Benchmarking Women’s Leadership Report confirms the fact that women get less bylines in eleven of the top political and intellectual magazines and that this lack of visibility needs to be addressed in order for women to advance to leadership positions. Women need to be visible and credible.
Toddi also saysÂ from her experience as a reporter she finds that women are not only hesitant to promote themselves, but are also not always organized, can often ramble, and don’t come across with the same confidence as men. Men are much more declarative. They frequently respond quickly to her questions in precise, short and often quotable statements.
Both the White House Project and Toddi strongly advocate media training for women. I agree, of course, but also feel strongly that women need to learn how to promote themselves more effectively and feel comfortable delivering their message. We must get over our belief that we are bragging when we talk about ourselves in a positive manner. Certainly, bragging turns people off and, as women, we need to be especially mindful of this in the workplace. Outright bragging can sabotage our efforts to advance our careers, but done diplomatically and appropriately, it is possible to get our message across to become more visibleÂ in the organization. It is possible to learn this and do it well.
WeÂ have valuable experiences, information and stories to share. We need to speak up and promote ourselves!
Is No really NO or is it an opportunity?
Women are much more likely than men to take a “no” as a personal rejection and final answer. In fact, the fear of rejection will often keep us from asking for things we rightly deserve.
Let’s look at the situation of a salary negotiation or performance review. Perhaps we were expecting a large raise and only received a small one. How often will we say “thank you” when we receive the small raise even though we thought we deserved more? It is possible that this presents a missed opportunity. It could be that “no” means ” not right now” or even a possible “maybe”.
Does the possibility of rejection keep you from asking for more and continuing the discussion about how and when a larger raise is possible?
How often in your career have you held back from asking for something (a promotion, flex time, a raise, a new office, etc) because you feared rejection?
If you are interested in a promotion for example, don’t assume that your boss knows what you want. You may be very disappointed when you are passed over for that job. Make your intentions well known. State your case. What is the worst thing that could happen? If he/she says “no” to the promotion at least you know that you stated what you want and now there is an opportunity to find out more about why this position is not right for you at this point in time and what you can do to get the necessary skills for a future position. Perhaps it will open up a door for mentoring or coaching or other resources for you.
You never know until you ask.
In 2010, make this a resolution. Ask for what you want and need. “No” is not always a definitive “no”. It can often be an opportunity to gain more information.
You will never know until you ask!
Also, check out my new January teleclasses:
Promote Yourself to Success (3 one hour sessions). $99. Class limited to 6
90 Day Action Marketing Group (6 one hour sessions). $99. Class limited to 6.
for more information and registration:
As women, we have a lifetime of mixed messages around becoming strong leaders and connecting with our innate talent and personal power. This often results in what I call the “yes, but” mentality. You instinctively know what to do BUT you don’t do it. For example, you know you should do more to get out and promote your business, but you spend more of your time in the office hoping that eventually word of mouth will bring you clients.
Why don’t we do what we instinctively know we should do? Are our reasons valid or just excuses?
Often our fears and limiting beliefs make up most of our “buts” and we sabotage ourselves by listening to these messages. They hold us back and keep us in our comfort zone.
Mixed messages relative to our professional success as women continually create this internal tug of war. We want to be successful, yet we worry about what the tolerance for our message is with our friends, colleagues, peers, prospects, and clients.
After all, we are women and as women we should be humble and polite and take the back seat. We have experienced the criticism of the Hillary Clintons of the world have received for being too pushy and aggressive. Yet all the business advice and media push calls for us to assert and promote ourselves as equals in the workplace. It’s this push and pull that creates the “yes, but” mentality.
We feel compelled to please everyone, yet we want to succeed. At some level, we are concerned that leadership positions and business success will make us seem pushy.
Can you relate to any of these “yes, buts”?
- Yes, I am accomplished, BUT it’s not right brag about it.
- Yes, I am ambitious, BUT I can’t appear to be too assertive.
- Yes, I deserve a higher salary, BUT I don’t feel comfortable asking for a raise.
What “yes, buts” do you recite to yourself all the time?
It’s time to connect with your confidence and do what you know is best for you to be successful.
No, “yes, buts”. Just a firm YES, I WILL!
Want to be an Internet Radio Show host? Check out Coach Deb Bailey’s teleclass next Wednesday April 22nd.
“Boost Your Marketing and Visibility with Internet Radio”
Learn the strategies for hosting your own internet radio show for maximum visibility and revenue
Hosted by Coach Deb Bailey, host of “Women Entrepreneurs-The Secrets of Success” internet radio show
Where: on the phone
Date: Wed. April 22
Time: 08:00 PM to 09:00 PM eastern
Sign up: http://www.dbaileycoach.com/teleclass_radioshow.html
Teleclass will include:
- Where to promote your shows and how to get on iTunes
- How to find high-profile guests
- What platforms to use to host your show
- How to make your show come across as a “professional” broadcast
- What business models will generate revenue from your show
Chance is always powerful. Let your hook be always cast; in the pool where you least expect it, there will be a fish—-Ovid
What great wisdom from a Roman poet. But how often are we willing to take risks and take chances? It’s pretty scary, right?
Have you thought about what your business would look like if you had NO fear of failure and rejection? Fear is such a powerful obstacle for most of us and the reality is that this fear constantly holds us back from success.
In theory, the solution seems so simple. Just put your fears aside and march gallantly out into the world with your message.Â We all know that it is simply not that simple. Many of us are terrified. If we all had the ability to overcome our fears, success would be achievable for everyone who seeks it.
We cannot escape fear. We can only transform it into a companion that accompanies us on all our exciting adventures….Take a risk a day-one small or bold stroke that will make you feel great once you have done it.—Susan Jeffers.
I love this quote because the goal of completely eliminating all our fears is daunting. Why not make fear a friend who accompanies us through life but never holds us back? It’s OK to acknowledge that you are frightened, but when you let fear control the accelerator, it is very difficult to move forward.
What are some of your fears about promoting yourself and your business or your current job position?
- fear of rejection
- fear of making a fool of yourself
- fear that someone will find out you’re really not that good
- fear that people won’t like you
- fear of success
Let’s recognize that we all have some of these fears and let’s recognizeÂ that these fears are preventing us from getting out there and promoting ourselves effectively.
What would your business look like if you were willing to make fear your companion and not your gatekeeper?
Can you take one small risk each day to promote yourself?
What is the worst thing that can happen? You might just catch that fish!!!
Check out my February Group Teleclass on Self-Promotion.
Sell Yourself and Your Services: How to Feel Comfortable with Self Promotion.
4 one hour sessions starting Tuesday, February 3rd at 7-8pm EST.