Creating a World That Works for All
In my career consulting practice, I work with mid- to senior-level professional women in both the corporate arena, as well as in entrepreneurial, small business and private practice ventures. Every day, I see recurring patterns and themes around how women chronically undervalue or undermine themselves, leaving money on the table and sabotaging their own growth and success.
While I’m not an academic social researcher, I have seen through my own research and training that men do not typically limit their professional growth in the same ways. I realize that I am generalizing here, but after nine years of working with over 10,000 women to help them “power up and speak up” for what they want, deserve and require, I’ve seen these assertions hold up. And I’ve faced and addressed each and every one of these limits myself.
What are the most common ways women limit or sabotage their success?
The following are the 7 most common behaviors and beliefs that hold women back from more success, achievement, growth and fulfillment:
1) Your “No” Means “Maybe”
The development of appropriate boundaries – the invisible barriers that exist between you and your outside systems that regulate the flow of information and input – is the single most important endeavor you can undertake if you want to create a successful, rewarding career. You must first identify your standards of integrity and the top priorities in your life and work, then learn how to enforce these with healthy boundaries. This process also involves communicating and articulating your needs, values and wants in an effective way. If you leave body parts in the wake of getting what you want, you certainly won’t be successful over the long haul. On the other hand, if your “no” continually means “yes,” “ok” or “maybe,” (meaning you simply can’t stand up for yourself or are afraid to say “no”) -- then you won’t achieve what you want – financially or otherwise. (To gain clarity about your standards of integrity, and your most pressing professional needs and wants, check out my free Career Path Self-Assessment.)
2) You Think You Know Your USP, But You Don’t
Both in the corporate world and in entrepreneurial ventures, you need to know your USP – your “unique selling proposition” and your personal brand -- what you do and contribute that sets you apart from your competition. Even if you’re in the corporate arena and haven’t needed to look for work for years, you will be much more successful in every way if you can uncover exactly how you’re unique and different from those who do similar work, and capitalize on those competitive advantages. I can’t tell you how many women come to me in launching their new endeavors and can’t define or name what makes their products/services/programs different or better than the thousands already out there. If you don’t know what sets you apart, or if you articulate that only in a vague and superficial way, you’re leaving money and success on the table. (For more about the basics of powerful branding for small businesses, check out Fearless Branding, and for personal brands, see Be Your Own Best Publicist.)
3) You’re Addicted to Outside Help
In every businessperson’s life, there are times when outside help is essential – from hiring a great consultant who complements your skills, to finding a mentor, to taking a class or acquiring more education. Knowing when you need help to grow is a key part of success.
Unfortunately, women who are new to business often take it to the nth degree and simply can’t stop themselves from searching for answers outside themselves. Particularly in start-ups and entrepreneurial ventures, women are buying the advice of marketing and business “gurus” by the millions, and often getting cheated in the process. The core issue is that – at a certain point – YOU have to do the work. You need to stop asking for outside input, and marshal your own internal resources and strengths to get going, and do what you know has to be done.