Would it not be great to feel easily your power in sales and negotiations? Imagine asking confidently, without hesitation, for pay that reflects what you are worth? How about taking action that leads to results you want and will thrive on?
If you are a woman, chances are high that you embody a well-established premise that you are “not enough”, simply because you are a woman. Even if you know you hold that erroneous belief, you still may struggle against those outside voices turned inner critic. It does not matter where the indoctrination came from – parents, education, peers, media – we have been sold a story that is skewed, that presents women as “less than.”
The story we bought then becomes the background noise of our lives, like the hum of the jet engines we tune out on an airplane flight. At times, it may be playing at the forefront of our mind and other times it may be that hum in the background. Still, that made-up story is determining our beliefs and actions, telling us we are somehow limited in what we have to offer: less intelligent, less capable, less powerful, less valuable. The once external voices and influences have become our internal dialogue, sabotaging us as background noise determining how we build our business and live our lives.
So, how do we know our own value, claim our expertise and build the success we want and deserve? We can examine the sources that erode our conviction that we are valuable, competent, essential and worthy. But that examination, although useful for long-term social change, will not help us get what we want in our personal endeavors.
To easily feel our power and claim our success as women in the workforce, without force, hesitation or apology, we must first identify and then transform (change the shape of) that inner dialogue, re-create how we view and value our selves. We have to start on the inside for the outside to change.
Claim Your Expertise
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, an expert is someone who is experienced and has, involves or displays special skill or knowledge from training or experience. If you are reading this, chances are you are already an expert in your field. As such, you can trust that you have what you need to insist on an income and position that matches your expertise. When we do not claim our status as an expert, when we keep ourselves in the “almost there” mode in our own mind, we create an “almost there” result in our daily reality. We keep ourselves from getting the position we desire and hinder ourselves from attaining the level of income that we know our contribution is worthy of.
This short exercise is quite useful to help break through that limiting pattern and claiming your expertise:
1. Start by making a list of what you have accomplished.
a. Note projects completed, contracts fulfilled, jobs had, skills and talents. Maybe you have a degree, have worked for a large corporation, built a major platform. Whatever it is, create an exhaustive list of what you have achieved. You will be amazed.
b. Now identify three things you do, have or are that make you unique in doing the work you do. Perhaps you won an award in your field, you have a unique methodology, or your services have been featured in a major media outlet. Whatever it is that makes you special, write it down and celebrate that literally no one else brings to the table what you do.
c. Define the time frame that you have been doing business. Even if you are fairly new to your field, look at the education and training time you have invested in your specialty.
In her book, A Return to Love, Marianne Williamson pointed right to the heart of our self depreciation when she said, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.” (Williamson, 1996) We are our own worst enemy. We women have come to believe it is unacceptable, arrogant even, to acknowledge what we are good at, what we have accomplished, how amazing we are. We somehow believe that speaking lowly of ourselves, hiding our light, is admirable and will miraculously get others to see through that ruse, identify our value and give us what we want. How can that possibly work?
There is a vast difference between owning your worth and touting yourself as being above others. Even with all of your amazing gifts, skills and characteristics, you are not of more value than anyone else. Yet you do have a right and, obligation even, to claim that your are good at something, the best perhaps, and at the very least, better at something than someone else may be.
In fact, it is an obligation to own your value because if you have a gift, if what you do or create can benefit someone else, help people or systems progress, make this a better world, then it would be withholding of an invaluable contribution by not sharing fully with others what you do and who you are. When you understand that depreciating yourself is an injustice to others by depriving them of something valuable that is helpful or useful to them, then you will begin to truly appreciate your worth. And by appreciating your own value, you not only make something powerful available to others, but you invite them to appreciate their own value as well.
Setting an intention is one of the most powerful tools we have at our fingertips. Wayne Dyer’s book, The Power of Intention, distinguishes how impactful this one simple action is for achieving what we want and for not only living but thriving.
An intention is a desire that you commit yourself to. It is not a goal or action plan, but rather a clearly defined experience that you want and then decide to give to yourself.
For example, if your goal is to get the contract on a particular project, you could set an intention to enjoy the process of proposing the project. First you can focus on creating your best proposal ever, in a detailed format and enticing content. Then you can be mindful of enjoying connecting with the decision maker, live or in writing, coming from the sincere desire to help them achieve their goals. Setting the intention to enjoy the process of proposing your work not only makes the experience more pleasurable for you, but you will do better work. In addition, with such an intention you actually have the highest chances of being granted the contract because you will set yourself apart from other contenders in tone and quality of execution.
After you set your intention, identify your goal and then identify specific steps that will get you there. Being strategic is nothing more than carefully outlining or designing a goal or objective and then planning in detail how you will achieve that outcome. It is not complex nor mysterious. Start with the end in mind and work backward. Being strategic means working smart, as the acronym for executing a plan of action indicates: S.M.A.R.T. - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound.
Then take your goals, your plan of action, and write it all down. Hard copy is best as the process of writing with your hand imprints the steps in your mind differently than if done on a keyboard and screen. Post your goal and plan prominently and check off the steps as you complete each one. Even if you do not achieve that particular goal or get that contract, being strategic about your approach to do so will establish a system of setting an intention and planning your steps to achieve your goal in a thought-out manner. This is practical strategy in action.
Our success does not rely on our skill, talent or gifts. It does not depend on our product or service, although those are all essential components. Success is not what we do but who we are. The income and position we have are reflections of the extent to which we, ourselves, claim our value and worthiness and believe that our contribution is not only important but absolutely needed. Claim your expertise, stop devaluing yourself and start acknowledging who you are and what you do. Then be strategic in going after what you want and deserve. As Ms. Williams points, “We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?” Indeed, who are you not to be!
Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Definition of Expert. Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/expert
Williamson, Marianne. A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles. HarperOne Publisher. March 15, 1996
Author writing with support from Farrow Communications
Leeza Carlone Steindorf is a corporate trainer and leading speaker on issues concerning organizational transformation, communication, strategic thinking, personal development and conflict resolution. Her work is internationally acclaimed and accredited. She holds professional certifications as a Trainer and Group Facilitator, Mediator, Business and Life Coach, and holds a degree in Business Management. Connect with Leeza and her content at www.LeezaSteindorf.com, through social media, watch A Woman’s Worth video on YouTube, or Book a free consult with her.