I met a brilliant woman who is accomplishing great things. She is working with our youth and really making a difference with them in their scholarly pursuits. I acknowledged her. She did not accept the acknowledgment. She minimized herself and her accomplishment. That was a moment. As a coach, I do not step over anything. That simple act, the act of her diminishing herself and what she is doing was a moment of opportunity for me to have her wake up to what she is doing.
I said “don’t diminish yourself. Simply allow yourself to get the acknowledgement. Even simply say thank you.” We went on to have a coaching conversation in which she told me that she was taught to be “humble.” (Humble is defined as showing a low estimate of one’s own importance.) I asked why. She could not say why, but simply that was the way she was raised. The impact of living as if being humble was the right way to be is lowered self-esteem, lower sense of fulfillment and accomplishment, lower income and often as a result, a decreased ability to really make the difference she was out to make. Before she left for the night, she said to me, “You changed my life tonight.” That was my intention and is always what I intend to do with my clients.
We, women, are waking up to how suppressed we have allowed ourselves to be. There is a culture change afoot. Every single day I read something that points out that if a man acted the way a woman was, he would not have been called difficult, or pushy, but would have been applauded for his leadership. I coach women leaders on this all of the time. And I do know it is not easy. When you push back against the status quo, you will upset some people. Human beings resist change. We like to be comfortable. We like the status quo. It is a strange phenomenon if you think about it. The world is constantly changing, yet, we find things that work the way we are comfortable and resist the heck out of anything changing. Otherwise, why would it have taken over 130 years from the start of the constitution to women having voting rights? Why is it that 52% of all professional level jobs are held by women and only 3% of Fortune 500 CEO’s are women? What will it take to alter that paradigm?
I believe it will take each and every woman to wake up to changing the status quo, challenge what we were taught when we were children. Some of it may work for you, but some of those lessons clearly do not have you own your own power and brilliance. Think, discover, and try out new ways of operating. I am not saying it will be easy, change never is. However, if we are going to make a difference, we, as women, have to be the ones to step up and speak up.
Give up being humble. Own your power. When someone acknowledges you, simply say “Thank you.”
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