“Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.”
John F Kennedy
I’m sitting here, trying to figure out why I choose to be and do what I do, especially as it pertains to High Value Woman and my career as a writer. I love to journal; I am a prolific journaller. I have journals spanning over 23 years. A scary thought, should anyone ever come across them and read my warbling.
Yet there burns within me, an intense and inexhaustible desire to articulate my life’s journey, all I am living in a way that makes sense to me and often opens the door through which I gain my greatest awareness, learning and remembering. It is what has helped me excel at being a people leader and coach, and whilst I couldn’t see this when I was eight years old and started scribbling, I know now everything in my life has and is serving me.
Often, I have no idea what will flow once the pen hits the paper….
Sharing what I have learned and experienced over a 20 year plus international HR career, specifically in reward and remuneration, to be able to help women ask for and receive what they want in their careers is not a path I imagined traversing. However, it’s the one I’m on and this burning desire to help women in this space stems from my own life long yearning and experience to be and do the same for myself. In avenues beyond just my career.
Owning my worth as a female was a craving born inside of me at a very, very early age. Growing up in a distinctly patriarchal and misogynistic culture, I remember as a little girl being told I was not worth the equivalent of a boy. It was a very straightforward notion I was meant to get and live by, but no. I rebelled, especially when I was told I wasn’t meant to be seen, nor heard. In fact, the ideal solution was I become invisible; submissive, subservient and silent, only being and doing that which was deemed suitable for me.
I was lucky. I had parents that thought outside the box, yet I still to this day can remember how I felt when I was told how I was ‘meant to be’ and something in me screamed ‘NO! Never!’
What I have come to know, live and embrace and why I reacted so very strongly to the above notion of invisibility is that Life in all its glory, individuated and collective, longs to be seen, heard and experienced. This innate desire is not about shouting about oneself. No, quite the opposite.
It’s about standing in your self, your very own self, being who you desire to be and doing what you choose to do, as a demonstration of the truth of who you are. And it cannot be quenched, no matter how hard anyone tries.
And they did try, and oh yes, I tried to conform too. God knows I tried. But it seemed the more I tried, the more my desire not to conform grew. Conforming felt perverse, misaligned, completely inauthentic, as if I was wearing the skin of someone else. In the end, I stopped conforming, but the battle within continued to rage.
I therefore took to channelling all my energy, focus, drive and ambition into being successful in my career. If I could not succeed and be loved for being the ‘right kind of woman’, then maybe I could prove my worth through my intelligence. All the while the inner monster of inherent unworthiness as a female grew, as did my internal, unconscious anger and rage, until once again I found a way to channel it.
I became an advocate for women in their careers, sharing the inner workings of how reward strategies are created and implemented, so they could utilise them for theirs and the organisation’s benefit. I was on the inside; doing my utmost in my corporate roles to show that paying women less, having a gender pay gap was an inherent lose/lose situation and simply ‘bad business’, yet beyond the superficial agreement I always seem to gain, I could see that what it would take was not being taken seriously, other than by a handful of far-thinking, visionary CEO’s.
So, I focused my attention on the women, fuelling the burning desire within me, born out of my own immense feelings of lack to attempt to change the status of women and pay, and it is this which still drives me today. It is also this passion that never seems to wane that drove me to question, challenge and be myself in all those interviews I have been in throughout my career, because I knew no one could ever be me, as well as I can.
This innate knowing of who I am, who I continue to create, uncover, unleash and live is what I do my damnest to show and articulate in interviews, and it is also something I have come to know is what makes the sparkle show up in an interviewers’ eyes, when they see true authenticity.
Whilst many may have your skills and qualifications, no one can be you. No one can demonstrate you, as you can in being you. This is your Unique Selling Point (USP) and it is a principle, which I have seen in thousands of interviews be stifled horribly, because someone told the interviewee who to be, what to say, to follow some pre-set criteria, that likely would make them fade into the background.
Prepare for interviews, but prepare for them in a way which shows you to the best advantage. Don’t hide who you are. If you’re hiding who you are, the role and organisation is not right for you.
So, how can you show who you are?
Try the first part of this exercise below and if you want to know more, take a look here. You can find the rest of the exercises in the book, Six Steps To Six Figures, in Step 6 ?
Powerful Practice: Get Those Gifts Out!
This is an exercise to help you begin getting strong clarity on who you are professionally with a holistic slant (always our approach) based on your strengths, weaknesses, and gifts.
Once you know your gifts, be and do whatever you must to own them!
This is a two-step exercise. First, make a list to describe yourself. Put everything down, based on the roles you have in life (not just at work), and describe yourself in those roles. Write it all down.
Now, make another list of what you are good/excellent/outstanding at. Again, refer to the roles that you play in your life and list all the things you would consider as strengths in those roles.
Once you’ve done that, think about and write down what you are not so good at and what you would like to improve in those roles.
Now think about the work you do. What are you good/excellent/outstanding at in your work?
And next, what are you not so good at in the work you do, but you’d like to improve in?
Now, taking both lists together, how many of your qualities overlap? Look at your strengths and weaknesses and come up with one list for both.
By this point you should have a good list for both aspects of you. The reason I ask you to look at your life and work life and the roles you play is because there many skills people ignore because they don’t think they’re relevant. Believe me, they are!
Talk about you by knowing yourself in your own unique way. Remind yourself of how you show up and demonstrate who you are with the above strengths and weaknesses. Build your library of successes and failures and talk about these. This is what builds your brand of confidence, certainty and charisma, it’s what will help you stand out and help you ask for what you want. Because it’s you and it’s yours.
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Here’s to next time,