1. Confidence and finding your potential is a step by step process.
I didn’t grow up thinking that I had a lot of power although my father tried to convince me that I could do anything I wanted to do. I couldn’t hear him because the culture was telling me something completely different. It took quite a while before I actually could see that there were lots of things I could be. There are lots of things I could do. I started college after I had my 3 children. I was 20. I got married early. I had my kids. There’s something good to be said for that I have to tell you. You get that part of your life done. I woke up and I realized there were lots of amazing things that a woman could do in this world. It was a step-by-step process after that, but starting to college was a huge, huge step.
2. Shoot for the moon. Interview for jobs you don’t think you are qualified for yet. Look at it as an exercise or practice to being who you know you can be. When I got my first big job (it was a big leap) going from a teacher to an executive director of a national organization. I think what gave me the confidence was assuming that I wouldn’t be hired. I had nothing to lose.
I quickly realized there were 2 things that were really important. One was I realized I had found something that I was completely aligned with in terms of my values of working to advance women. The second thing was that I had what I call the “CEO brain.”
I don’t know whether it was having children so young, or not; but I realized I can see the big picture. I’m willing to take on any level of responsibility in order to feel like I can put resources together and make things happen. I can see what’s in front of me. I like to look ahead, plan ahead, and take risks. It was very serendipitous. It truly was, but sometimes you just got to be open to that serendipity.
3. Own your power. Even after I had built a successful organization I thought I needed other people to amplify my voice. Finally, I realized I hadn’t spoken in my own voice. I thought, “It’s great that you’ve been able to speak on behalf of a cause that you believe in. It’s great that you’ve been able to write a book with well-known partner, but when are you going to speak in your own voice?” I felt really stupid to tell you the truth. I was like, “You fool! What is wrong with you?” That was a power. That was the challenge moment because then I had to claim the power to do the rest of it. I’m working on that, I will tell you, every single day.
The reason we have to want power is that you can’t get anything done unless you’re willing to embrace the power too. I shift the definition to “not the power over you, but I want the power to be able to do things that will make the world better, that will earn money, that will make life better for my kids, the world, the family.”
–Former CEO / President of a national non-profit for women and cofounder of a leadership organization.
Three Gifts for a 20-Something: What three “gifts” would you give a 20-something if you were a “Forty-Godmother”? Here 40-somethings share three wishes to help a 20-something get a head start on the confidence to make decisions that are right for them (not their parents, friends, teachers or society). No more woulda, coulda, shoulda.
If you would like to submit your three gifts, use the share/ ask / submit link!