You are here. You have a successful business that is built by your vision, hard work and commitment.
A woman in business has a long journey behind here, where she has defied norms, faced opposition and started with her conviction as her biggest resource. The lack of visibility for women in leadership roles and success stories of women celebrating their wins are hard to find.
Today let us talk of some of the unconscious bias we have inherited from the society and how these act as stumbling blocks when we want to realise our full potential.
Let us go straight in…
Be aware of over-apologizing
- “I may be wrong but”
- “I am sorry to waste your time but I have a solution/idea/perspective”
- “I am sorry but I do not agree”
- “I don’t want to offend you but I have a question”
What’s common between all these apologetic sounding statements? Looks like the person saying these is not very confident and is not sure of validity of the point. Also chances are that this person is a woman.
It is a fact that women say twice as much as men in any workplace and meeting setting.
Maybe you’ve fallen into this pattern without realizing it and now you are saying “I’m sorry” for things that don’t merit an apology in the first place.
This is a self-defeating pattern of behavior, it can tire you and also takes away your power.
Action Tip: Awareness is the key.
- Chances are that you are not aware of this habit most of the time. Once you become aware of this pattern, you will notice it the next time you are about to apologize.
- Notice the language you use
- Record your conversations and listen to find when you tend to use “I am sorry but” more often.
Action tip: Dig deep. Ask yourself why you apologize unnecessarily. Is it a learned behavior? Do you want to observe it and work on yourself? Perhaps you can practice conversations without using the words like sorry, I am sorry, I am afraid, is it ok if I etc.
Please know that there is software available that can check your emails on these words and alert you!
Pay attention to how you feel when you apologize for no apparent fault of yours. Do an inner check on your emotions.
Setting boundaries is VERY healthy
Are you drained because of your over helping nature? Are you constantly stretched on your time, resources and skills because you want to help others.
Do you find yourself saying this a lot?:
- I am busy but no problem; I will do your urgent project first
- Sure, I can speak to your friend and help
- It is last minute notice but I will handle it.
Of course we are not suggesting you do not help others, but do you feel others are taking you for granted or you are exhausted of all the help you offer. If yes, it is time to reflect.
Action Tip: take slow yet steady baby steps towards claiming your time and power.
Cannot say NO instantly?
Ask for time.
Cannot decide to commit or not?
Ask for time
Cannot decide if the request is genuine or just an attempt to pass over the efforts to you?
Ask for time.
Asking for time before you respond is a simple yet very effective technique to find a good place to think and keep the pressure off.
When you are away from the moment of making snap decisions, you have the freedom to evaluate, discern and take a decision without feeling the guilt.
Here are some examples of what to say when need to ask time.
- I have filled to capacity today but send me the details and I can let you know by tomorrow
- I would love to but I must check my meeting schedule first.
- Can you ask me again in 30 minutes
- I really want to help you but cannot. Let me connect you to xx and xx who have a fee but it is worth all the money you will spend.
“I am in control” image is a drain
A woman entrepreneur is twice as likely to feel isolated, she also has an added pressure to show ‘she has it all together’.
The pressures of starting and setting up a business, being responsible for all decision-making and balancing home and work life is already a lot. Working from home can be isolating, and often self-employed women work irregular hours, and have less sense of community in the workplace.
On top of it all, trying to show an Instagram worthy life, is an added burden. Any sign of feeling doubts, weakness or physical or mental health bring fear of failure, unwarranted attention in the wrong places and often a sense of shame.
Build a safe space to just be.
Time for yourself is your investment. It might sound selfish and look impossible for you. But if you want to run a successful business, have a healthy life and balance on sustainable basis, you need to create a system that allows “regular breaks to nourish yourself”.
Invest in a mentor or peer support system
It is a space where you can let your guards down and have honest conversations about what you are doing, your body, mind and heart space. Think of your break time as a period to refine and sharpen your amour so you can return to life with a new energy and more vigor.
Don’t be a do it all – and learn to delegate and enlist a network of trusted partners, suppliers and helping hands.
Take Credit and allow yourself to celebrate yourself
It is one of the most fundamental yet ignored parts of being a woman entrepreneur.
You are here because you wanted to make a difference. Your vision made it possible and giving yourself a chance to acknowledge and celebrate your vision is soul food. If you are not speaking openly about your accomplishments, no one else will.
There are numerous factors (social, cultural, environmental, etc.) that may have conditioned your environment, your role models or family and you can still have these in you.
- Are you able to take the credit of your success and use your influence without feeling guilty or awkward?
- Do you hide your success so you feel safe?
Say It Forward. Celebrate by offering to mentor the younger generation. It is one of the most satisfying experiences to share what you know.
Offer to be interviewed or invited in public, events, media and share your success story. Let your story inspire people and especially younger generation of girls.
Find your voice and write about your journey.