I was a child of the 80s and one of my favourite movies growing up was Working Girl.
The Carly Simon song Let The River Run was epic.
If you’ve not watched it, the story is based on Tess McGill – a smart young and talented woman. But Tess is also a frustrated secretary struggling to be recognised for her talent. Her boss steals one of her ideas and presents it as her own to a top client. Tess decides to reclaim the recognition she deserves and for the rest of the story I’ll leave you to watch it so I don’t spoil it.
Looking back though, the 1980’s Working Girl vibe set the scene for my career – working hard forever trying to prove myself.
It took me a long time to dismantle that lie of working hard to prove my worth.
It took me a long time to own my authority and be recognised for it.
And that cost me.
Not only in terms of financial reward but also in terms of my health and wellbeing.
I worked harder and longer than I needed to – going above and beyond.
I was more dedicated than most – being productive, getting stuff done and being in control.
I felt like I constantly had to prove to myself and others that I was good enough.
I hustled for my sense of worth.
Looking back it’s no surprise that I ended up with burnout.
That’s when everything changed. That’s when *I* changed.
Not overnight but over time, I discovered the strategies that finally helped me to work smarter, influence more, and prioritise my personal life without burning out!
You can read about the three key strategies that helped me to do this here:
1 – Getting clear on my Zone of Genius
When I started to get really clear on my Zone of Genius everything started to shift.
Your Zone of Genius is where you capitalise on your natural abilities which are innate, rather than learned. It’s a flow state that feels more effortless. You create work that is distinguished and unique. This zone is where you can excel and find your authority.
It’s the zone where you’re doing work that you’re not only passionate about but you’re also proficient at.
So not only do you add the most value in this zone but it takes less effort and energy. When you can discover it and start to own it, the shift can be huge.
So how do you do get clear on your Zone of Genius? You do it by focussing on your realised and unrealised strengths. Basically the stuff you know you’re good at and the stuff that you don’t yet realise that you’re good at.
The data on taking a strengths-based approach at work is overwhelming and compelling. People who focus on their natural strengths are more confident— and it has a positive correlation with self-efficacy, self-esteem, self-acceptance, and self-confidence. All of which are key for you to own your personal power and authority!
When I started to do this I could focus on what mattered most – where I could have the biggest impact and where I enjoyed working. I started to be more smart and strategic in how I worked and was recognised and rewarded more for doing this.
Just my recent client. She’s a board-level executive and she’s still in amazement that despite working less than she’s ever done before she’s being recognised more by her CEO and fellow Directors. It’s even freed up time in her working week for her to follow her passion project of being an aerobics instructor.
2 – Getting comfortable sharing my impact and accomplishments
Like most women, I used to shy away from self-promotion. Nobody likes a brag, do they? So I used to rely on others to notice my contributions without having to draw attention to them myself.
But that approach damaged my influence and impact.
Working as hard as possible and trusting that you will get noticed is one of the reasons why women’s careers progress more slowly than men’s. It’s a contributing factor to our burnout.
When we see our contribution being noticed and valued less we internalise it that we’re not yet good enough and often hustle harder to prove it.
Companies don’t just make great products and services and expect that customers “should” want to buy them. They have a marketing function that is designed to effectively promote what they do. Sharing the value and impact they can have.
As professional women, we need to develop our own internal marketing manager – sharing how we can help, add value and have an impact. When you make that shift in realising it’s your responsibility for getting noticed, even if that makes you feel uncomfortable at first, then you start to undo the pattern that keeps you just working harder.
Remember you’re actually helping others by sharing the value you bring.
3 – Be willing to tolerate disappointing others
Many of the women I work with can relate to wanting to be thoughtful and nice and make everyone around them feel good. They’re good traits, aren’t they?
Well yes and no!
Obviously being a nice person helps in life. But it can also be a trap.
The ‘disease to please’ is particularly prevalent in women.
- Saying yes to requests when you actually want to say no.
- Underplaying your success and talent so you don’t make others feel uncomfortable.
- Doing what’s expected of you and not actually what you want to do.
- Trying to accommodate everyone – being too collaborative.
- Not wanting to upset or disappoint people.
The disease to please can impair your judgement and leave you vulnerable to manipulation by people who know how to use your desire to please to accommodate their own needs.
It can steal your capacity to act with authority and personal power.
I can distract you from your purpose, squander your time and talents and contribute to feeling overwhelmed and overworked.
When I got more comfortable tolerating disappointing others so I didn’t disappoint myself the impact was huge. It was freeing!
Hopefully, these three strategies help you to show up at work with the unapologetic influence of who you are so you can navigate your career as the highly valuable asset that you truly are.
We’re genuine, like-minded women, just like you!
We’re a community, reinventing how we combine work and motherhood without sacrificing our sanity and wellbeing.