Let the battle begin. The fight is between your internal dialogue of failure and your power pose. You assume the position; feet apart, arms stretched above you in a victory pose. Your body language shows everyone that you are confident and powerful. Your inner voice is telling you that people will see through this. You are not powerful or confident. The voice gets louder and it’s challenging to silence it. Who wins? The power pose or the inner voice?
Let’s look at the two opponents; the power pose and the imposter syndrome.
Amy Cuddy gave an inspirational keynote address last week at the HBA Conference in Boston. Her research at Harvard Business School confirms that our body language communicates information to others that shapes their perceptions of us. It also communicates information to us that shapes our own self-concept. We can construct how powerful we feel by assuming expansive body poses.
In “Power Posing: Brief Nonverbal Displays Affect Neuroendocrine Levels and Risk Tolerance”, Cuddy shows that simply holding one’s body in expansive, “high-power” poses for as little as two minutes stimulates higher levels of testosterone (the hormone linked to power and dominance in the animal and human worlds) and lower levels of cortisol (the “stress” hormone that can, over time, cause impaired immune functioning, hypertension, and memory loss). These power poses led to an increased sense of power and risk tolerance.
In other words, Cuddy states that we can fake confidence and power by using expansive body language to change our body chemistry and our feelings. But is this enough to quell the inner voices that constantly tell us that we aren’t good enough?
Our body language can jump start our confidence. But how does that “fake” confidence measure up to the strong inner voices we constantly hear? “I’m a loser. I will never get ahead. I don’t deserve a promotion. People will find out someday that I am not that smart.” This internal dialogue is often referred to as the Imposter Syndrome.
According to Wikipedia, the definition is as follows,
The impostor syndrome, sometimes called impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome, is a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. Despite external evidence of their competence, those with the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be.
What keeps you from showing up as you best self? In every aspect of your life? Many of us are so tuned into the negative voices we hear in our head that distort our self image. Today we’re going to learn some tips from my guest, Jen Sincero on how to tune out those voices and show up as our badass self.
Jen Sincero is a success coach, speaker and the Bestselling author of You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life, The Straight Girl’s Guide to Sleeping With Chicks and the semi-autobiographical novel, Don’t Sleep With Your Drummer. Jen and her work have been featured in media outlets all over the world,including Interview Magazine, The Howard Stern Show, Allure, German Cosmo, Bust, Playboy Magazine/TV, The Village Voice, The NY Post and the LA Times. In 2011 Jen bid her home in California farewell to travel the world indefinitely and encourage as many people as possible to live lives of unbridled awesomeness.
Your focus is making everyone around you happy. This includes spouses/partners, children, family, colleagues, friends, and bosses. You want everyone to not only be happy, but to be pleased with you. You like doing things for others. You are most content when you are recognized for helping other people achieve their goals and dreams.
What about your goals?
What about your dreams?
If you are a pleaser, then your goals and dreams are just not as important as the people in your world; the people you care about. Less focus, less energy is spent on you. You fall to the bottom of your priority list.
As women, we are programmed to be pleasers. We feel selfish when we do things for ourselves. We are not comfortable asking for anything for us. Am I right?
Well, I hope you can see this is a trap. This attitude and accompanying behavior robs you of the energy to have the life and career that you want. You are expending most of your energy on others and there is very little left for yourself.
In the workplace, you are a team player. You are well liked by your colleagues. You go out of your way to help them out even when time is an issue in your already cramped schedule. As you begin to build your network and relationships in the organization, you are the first to offer assistance, but often the last to ask for anything in return.
I hope you see this is a trap.
You need a village to help you achieve your career goals. You need to build relationships of trust and confidence and it certainly helps if people like you and want to work with you. They are more likely to help you move your career forward. However, we need to be better at asking for the help we need to improve our performance or gain more visibility in the company. We don’t need to be 100% self serving, but we do need to shift our focus a bit from helping everyone else to helping ourselves achieve our own dreams.
Consider a two step process. You offer to help and then at some point you ask for a favor in return. It’s that simple. That favor might be an introduction to someone in your organization. It might mean making a call to the IT department to help you move a project along. Whatever it is, don’t forget the second step; the ask. You can please others by offering to help and they will be more than willing to help you in return.
Everyone wins! Now doesn’t that please you?
Why do we always put everyone else first?
My guest today, Saundra Pelletier, says, “women have been programmed to be pleasers who forgo our dreams so that our husbands, children, siblings and co workers can have more.” We fall on the bottom of our priority list and as a result do not realize our own dreams and can lead unfulfilling lives.
In her book, Saddle Up Your Own White Horse, Saundra shows us how to reach our dreams and have it all.
Saundra Pelletier has over 20 years of experience as an international marketing expert in addition to being a mother, published author and executive coach. She traveled the country as a keynote speaker for women’s organizations and corporations as part of her 2008 national book tour, “Saddle Up Your Own White Horse” and she has raised awareness for international equality.
She has dedicated her life and career to empowering women and has been a major force in bringing attention to the need for women globally to access reproductive health supplies and to achieve this goal.
Ms. Pelletier is the CEO of Woman Care Global, and has worked tirelessly to grow Woman Care Global’s reach to over 100 countries with a focus on underserved markets in Africa and Asia as a global nonprofit organization that improves the lives of women by providing access to quality, affordable women’s healthcare products through a sustainable supply chain.
I don’t believe I have ADD, but there are some days that my lack of focus makes me wonder. For example, since I started writing this blog post, I stopped to pay a couple of bills, finished washing my breakfast dishes, and checked out Facebook. Can you relate to this?
There are some days that I am so focused that nothing will get in the way of me being productive. I start my day early with a run or a trip to the gym and usually am in front of my computer working by 8 am the latest. By mid- afternoon, I’ve accomplished most of the tasks on my to-do list and more. I love those days! I feel good about myself.
Of course our body rhythms change from day to day, but I see that a consistent lack of focus with many of my clients sabotages their efforts to succeed. We set goals. We make a plan and yet it remains a constant challenge to stay on track.
I’m not a psychologist but I do question whether we allow ourselves to be distracted because we don’t believe we are worthy of achieving the success we say we want. If we stay focused, what will happen? If we give it our full attention and yet still aren’t successful, what does that say about us? Is that our greatest fear?
Do you find that you commit to something but often don’t follow through with a consistent focus?
Are you easily distracted?
I know that being held accountable is probably one of the most valuable aspects of working with a coach.
Think about what keeps you from reaching your goals. Perhaps it’s time to get some help to keep you on track. Work with a coach or find an accountability partner. Your lack of focus will sabotage your career advancement.
It takes tremendous resilience to succeed as a leader in business today. Executives are constantly trying to keep up with the changing world and make the right decisions for their company, their teams, and themselves. With all the clutter of information out there, how can executives focus to make the right decisions? What forces can derail them? How can they reduce their stress and anxiety?
My guest this week, Dr. Jacqui Grey, says that gremlins get in the way. The beliefs we have about ourselves contribute to how we behave and react and these beliefs can often lead us astray, cause us much anxiety and stress unless we deal with them. These gremlins keep us from being effective leaders.
Jacqui Grey, author of Executive Advantage: Resilient Leadership for the 21st Century, has worked globally for blue-chip companies on innovative leadership development programs and has a special interest in the development of top female talent. With a background in law and in HR at Board Level, she has worked for Merrill Lynch, Credit Suisse, RBS,and Barclays, Cisco and many other leading companies. She has a doctorate in Executive Anxiety and presents regularly at leadership conferences and business schools.
My mom is in her nineties and she is constantly telling her friends to focus on what they can do; not to dwell on what they used to be able to do when they were younger. “That will get you depressed. Having a positive attitude is everything.”
It’s not easy getting old in our society. (That could be the subject of a whole other blog and is not the focus of this one.) What I really want to stress here today is the great lesson I have learned from my mom about having a positive attitude.
Mindset is everything when it comes to living a purposeful and fulfilling life. Mindset is everything when it comes to building a successful career. You can always look at the half empty glass and bemoan your lack of progress. You can always see a glass ceiling as a formidable barrier to your success. But none of those perceptions help you to move forward. Not only will they keep you stuck and frustrated, but can contribute to your unhappiness.
So it’s Mother’s Day and as I write this blog to honor my own mother and the best lesson she taught me, I want to use this opportunity as well to remind you that your mindset about your life and career shape your life and career. What you believe is what will happen!
Happy Mother’s Day!
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.
It’s wonderful to feel fulfilled at work, comfortable with your colleagues, your boss, and the company. If you truly enjoy your work why would you even consider pushing yourself out of your comfort zone?
The danger is that being too complacent can derail your career.
Dictionary.com’s definition of complacency is “a feeling of quiet pleasure or security, often while unaware of some potential danger, defect, or the like; self-satisfaction or smug satisfaction with an existing situation, condition, etc.”
If you assume that the status quo will remain in place, you are setting yourself up to be blindsided. If you stay in the safety of your complacency without a notion as to what’s happening in the company or in your industry, your safety zone can become a danger zone overnight. Changes are occurring all around you that can make your skills and competencies obsolete. Potential mergers and downsizing can be potential landmines unless you are tapped into the politics of the company and listening carefully to the warning signs that change is about to happen.
Here are five signs that your complacency can derail you.
1. You are no longer striving to do your best.
In this highly competitive job market, there are many people who would love your job. If you have been doing just enough to get by, beware. You must continue to add value and meet and exceed expectations to keep your job.
2. You are not staying up to date in your field and industry.
When was the last time you took a course or attended an industry conference? Do you regularly read trade magazines, ezines, and journals? It is easy to lose your credibility overnight. The next new hire on your team can show up with excellent credentials and want your job. In my recent interview with Anne Weisberg, Chief Strategy Office of the FutureWork Institute, she cites nurturing your ambition as critical for women’s leadership advancement and this means learning to master your expertise.
3. You are not seeking or taking advantage of new opportunities.
If you don’t seek or take advantage of opportunities your skills become stale. Doing the same thing over and over gets boring. You remain invisible. Key stakeholders and decision makers don’t know the value that you contribute. How will you be able to position yourself if the company reorganizes or changes in any way?
Look for opportunities to work on new projects and maintain your credibility, expand your skill set, and increase your exposure across the company.
I’m sure most of us are unaware of how often we make assumptions. We make assumptions every day about how other people think and feel, and these assumptions then lead us to behave in ways that sabotage our relationships, our careers, and erode our self-confidence. We make assumptions based on gender and race. We make assumptions and judge people based on their background, education, religion and age.
Have you ever thought about how dangerous it is to make assumptions?
We certainly don’t want others to make unsubstantiated judgments about us, right? We don’t want the decision makers in our company to assume that because we are women or that we are mothers, that we are less competent or less committed to doing the job or taking the promotion. Yet, how many times do we sabotage ourselves because we ourselves make false assumptions?
Here are the top 10 assumptions that can prevent you from getting ahead.
- You assume that people understand how valuable you are to the organization even if you don’t tell them.
- You assume that people will recognize and reward you even if you don’t let them know what you’ve accomplished on a regular basis.
- You assume that you will get promoted just because you are talented and work hard.
- You assume that if you are assertive people won’t like you.
- You assume that it’s important that everyone like you in order to get ahead.
- You assume that embracing the workplace politics is just for men.
- You assume that networking means connecting with people you like and know.
- You assume that the salary or raise you are offered is the best final offer.
- You assume that if you negotiate for a raise it will be viewed negatively.
- You assume that opportunities will surface solely because of your excellent track record.
Are you guilty of making any of these assumptions? Which ones?
These assumptions are sabotaging your efforts to accelerate your career!
Take control of your own career destiny and make it your intention to let go of these assumptions and do the work to move yourself forward.