This morning, I was on the phone with one of the most dynamic women I’ve ever met. We were talking about a joint venture based on her initial success with clients of a particular product she launched. She then uttered the words that I’ve heard time and time again from women, including myself:
“I’m just not sure that I’m credible enough yet to lead this. Have I done enough in the industry to show that I’m the right person to do it?”
And that, my friends, is the key to what holds us back. While it’s a generalization, of course, it’s one that I’ve seen throughout my career. Women remain steadily focused on competence, while men are focused on confidence. When offered an opportunity, we women wonder: ,”Am I good enough? Do I deserve this? Do I have enough expertise in this area?” While men, when offered that same opportunity, tend to jump up and volunteer — even when they don’t know what they’re talking about. They say yes first, and figure it out later.
Competence is an amazing and necessary thing. But, as you grow in your career, ask yourself if you’ve worked as hard on your confidence as you have on your competence. Granted, there’s no MBA in “confidence,” but it is a skill that most certainly can be taught.
Here are a few ways to build up your confidence:
1. Set a MVC metric.
Knowledge is key, but we often hide behind needing to “know more” before we act. What is the minimal amount of competence that you need on a subject before you can push forward? Figure out the Minimum Viable Competence (MVC) needed — then go get that. You can (and should) continue to learn, of course, but once you have MVC, it’s time to go for it.
2. Ask for feedback.
Look for people who are invested in you and ask them what it is about you that makes you great. It’s not fishing for compliments; it’s building your tolerance for hearing great things about yourself without cringing. Even better? Also ask for areas of improvement. Work on those, but don’t stop pushing forward as you’re doing that hard work. Learning how to take constructive feedback (both positive and negative) is vital.
3. Dream big.
Imagine what your life and career would be like if nothing was holding you back. No barriers, no politics, nothing. Write it down. Then ask yourself: Why on earth you are letting anything stand between you and what you really want? Aren’t you worth that dream? Aren’t you competent enough to execute against that dream? If not, why not? Find out if it’s an actual physical challenge — or if it’s just negative self-talk and lack of confidence that’s holding you back.
By the time I had finished my call with that brilliant young woman I spoke with this morning, we had hatched an idea for a business that will hopefully be a great success for her. It may, of course, fall flat on its face. But one thing is for sure: There’s nothing in the world holding her, or anyone else, back from just going for it.
As we grow older and have less time left, there may be a tendency to ask, “What impact have I had?” “What have I contributed to others and future generations?” “What is my legacy?”
Most theorists agree that adult development is ongoing. As we age, a major task is to move beyond concerns of the self and acquire wisdom in order to contribute to others and future generations. In my dissertation research, I asked creative older adults I interviewed, “How important is it for you to leave a legacy or contribute to future generations?” (Robertson, 2005). Surprisingly, many of the participants I interviewed were not concerned with leaving a legacy—even though, in my mind, they would leave bodies of work and had already contributed to present and future generations. Some talked about what they would pass on to children and grandchildren, but most indicated that their time was “now” and they did not expect to be “remembered” for more than one or two generations.
In the book Live Your Legacy Now! Ten Simple Steps to Find Your Passion and Change the World, Barbara Greenspan Shaiman (2009) tells about the “inheritance” she received from her family, how she was inspired to create her legacy, and practical advice for people who want to make the world a better place. She explains that a legacy goes beyond the common conception of leaving a bequest, or funding a hospital wing or university building to preserve one’s memory in the future; it is sharing your “humanity” and is a gift to the present and the future.
Recently, my husband, John and I have been blessed to get to know Barbara. She has become a dear “new” friend—an experience that somehow feels “extra special” as you grow older. We were thrilled when she invited us to attend the 2014 Women’s Achievement Awards, presented by KYW Newsradio 1060, and held on June 25, 2014 at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, PA. Barbara and four other women from the Philadelphia area were honored for their outstanding achievements.
Barbara’s award was for the legacy she has established and how she helps others to do the same through Embrace your Legacy, which offers programs to create “cultures of caring” for a variety of audiences. Barbara’s approach to creating a legacy is that it does not have to be just for the future—it can be lived now, which is what the title of her book suggests. In addition, creating a legacy does not have to wait until one is an adult. Through Champions of Caring, a non-profit organization Barbara founded in 1995, she developed a program that has empowered more than 10,000 youths in Philadelphia and South Africa to make the world a better place by becoming engaged citizens and leaders of social change.
What makes Live Your Legacy Now so powerful is that the first part of the book tells Barbara’s story of how she became involved with building her legacy and helping others to do the same. Stories can be powerful motivators; if we examine our lives, most of us are able to discuss our heritage and identify events that have shaped who we are. Barbara’s parents—her mother, Carola Iserowshi Greenspan, and her father, Henry Greenspan, were Holocaust survivors. Barbara tells how her parents’ survival, a journey she took with her family and other Holocaust survivors to visit Auschwitz in 1989, and a brief meeting with Steven Spielberg spurred her to create her legacy.
For those who might think, “I have no idea what my legacy could be,” and “I don’t know famous, powerful people who could help me even if I did,” Barbara’s book provides a process to find out and offers very practical advice. She gives step-by-step suggestions of how one can explore their past and identify present values, skills and passions to create a vision for the future that will make the world a better place. Live Your Legacy Now is a reassuring book for those who find the idea of creating a legacy a bit intimidating or grandiose because it helps one to live “on purpose.”
The subject of living your legacy exemplifies key principles of existential-humanistic psychology. A major challenge for individuals and cultures is how to live as fully as we can, despite individual trials and unbelievable horror we may confront. Certainly, the Holocaust is an example of such a horror. Lest we forget, Holocaust museums are stark reminders of how human beings can lose their humanity. In the face of such inhumanity, people such as Barbara’s parents and Viktor Frankl survived, created legacies, and made the world a better place. Frankl was a Holocaust survivor and founder of logotherapy, which stresses the importance of finding (or creating) meaning for existence. He strongly believed in the importance of freedom coupled with responsibility.
While not everyone will have experiences as horrific as the Holocaust, most people can identify problems they would like to address and causes about which they feel passionate. The thoughts expressed in Live Your Legacy Now are very consistent with existential-humanistic psychology, and the tagline of this website: “It matters that people have a way of looking at their lives that lets them ask the big questions and determine how they want to live.” Examining who we are and what we want to contribute “is vital to the transformation of our despairing and violent world.” Creating and living a legacy is a way to break “new ground to humanize the world around us.” What is your legacy? Or, even more important, what is the legacy you choose to live right now?
reblogged from the Saybrook University blog.
So, I spent some time last week up at Star and Snake, an artist retreat in NH that my sister is developing . I periodically need time to get away and reflect on events of my life and my desires for the future. It is part of how I stay on my A game for my clients and of course it is essential to my own well-being.
I noticed something while I was holed away in this beautiful environment with a fire roaring and torrential rain coming down. I noticed that there were some areas of mental hygiene that needed to be addressed. I am not sure to say whether I was surprised by this or not but I can say that I was pleased. I was pleased because as soon as I saw it I new right away what needed to shift. That is what I will be writing about today.
Before leaving for my retreat, a client mentioned that she had started listening to Abraham Hicks and that she was finding the messages to be helpful. This was the second client to say this to me in a short amount of time so upon arriving at my retreat , I downloaded some of their work to see why this was coming to me at this time.
In doing some editing on my upcoming book Apathy is Noxious, I reread a chapter in which I talked about determination. Specifically, I talked about my determination as a child. I said that staying focused and moving towards my goal was what was most significant and the outcome was actually never doubted.
Unwavering focus is definitely a key ingredient to creating what we want. For those of you familiar with Abraham Hicks you know that they are a big proponent of focusing on what you desire.
With these two pieces of information up front in my mind, I began to look back over the events of the last month or so. Was I focused on what I wanted?
I consider myself pretty skilled at holding positive intent, seeing possibility, and seeing opportunities. I make regular time to get clear on what I want from each day, week and year. AND, I saw some room for improvement.
What a gift to have this time and to have these nudges to get refocused in a way that serves me!
So, here is what I saw: There were a couple key areas where I was off my game. I had started to focus on problems rather than solutions. So, I did a little writing and got refocused on what I really wanted to create rather than the problems that distracted me.
That is my suggestion this week: What are the problems that you are paying too much attention to? Can you refocus on what you WANT instead of focusing on the problems themselves?