What do you really really want? <Insert sound of crickets here> When I ask this question (of women) the response is invariably the sound of crickets. I prompt them by say “Ok, think about it like this. I have a magic wand, I will wave it and you will get what you want. What is it?” Still nothing. And so we start the process of uncovering how to have conversations with intent.
Tell yourself what you really want.
Gasp! You mean…ummm…say it out loud? Unlearning the things we’ve been taught growing up like “be polite, watch what you say, don’t be greedy, nice girls don’t talk about money” and suchlike is hard work. Believe me I’ve lived the experience. Women in Australia have an interesting (that’s code for it sucks) double dilemma. We encounter the universal likability issue, which Sheryl Sandberg cites in her seminal work Lean In with the “Heidi/Howard” story. We also have the tall poppy syndrome here in Australia. I’m sure I don’t have to explain what tall poppy syndrome is to Australians, however when a poppy grows taller than its peers in the field, it has its head lopped off. For women, this phenomenon applies when she attempts to rise in life or work and is immediately cut down with criticism or judgement. The theory is her changing stature threatens the status quo. So women keep their heads down, fit in with the crowd and never, ever speak up about being talented and ambitious.
The challenge that women can face is that they are not encouraged to self promote, to talk about their talent, their ambition and what they really, really, really want. So women don’t stand out, stand up or get counted when it really counts because no one knows about just how good they are! In fact, I know through many years of leading teams, coaching and mentoring people of all genders, ages and stages that women more often than not cannot articulate clearly what they want, because they have not allowed themselves to think that way since they were kids.
This is not another “women you must change yourself” article.
Because they suck! No this is about unlocking that closed off zone inside you. The zone that has been locked down, zipped up tight and shut away. It’s called the “I know what I want” zone. It’s the opposite of “the comfort zone” which is a synonym for fear. Fear of going after what you really want because you might end up hurt, disappointed, sad or just plain judged. Unfortunately we modern day humans have been inoculating ourselves from negative emotions for so long that a negative emotion is something so feared that it’s a bit like the Boggart in the Harry Potter series. The Boggart is an amorphous shape that manifests itself into the shape of what the person fears most. For some its spiders, for Harry, his Boggart was the fear of fear itself. Women fear being judged, rejected, ridiculed or just simply failing.
I’ve written about fear before. Tara Mohr describes fear of asking for what you want as pachad in her book Playing Big. Pachad is the Hebrew bibles word for irrational disaster thinking. That thought process that the absolute worst is going to happen (the Boggart in Harry Potter terms!) Then Mohr talks about yirah. The other Hebrew word for fear, the good fear word! This is the “I will have a conversation with intent” kind of fear word. Yirah is the word for what happens when you courageously step up, lean in and ask for what you really want.
So now what?
Get your journal and start a fresh page. Three columns.
First column: write down what you really want. Be honest, be specific, be granular and write down what makes your heart sing and your brain zing. My coach Lisa got me to do this exercise a while back and it is liberating to say (out loud or on paper) what you really do desire. The more detail you can out in the better.
Second column: write down why you are afraid to go after it. Again, be very specific. Do a first draft then go deeper. Remember, the primary emotion you are trying to beat here is fear. How does this fear apply uniquely to each thing you want? Be very specific. Getting really clear about what you want and what is currently standing in your way is key.
Third column: benefits. What will you benefit from when you overcome your fear and achieve what you really, really, really want? More confidence? A promotion? Pay rise? Happier life? Ask yourself how you will feel. What will your self talk sound like. What will others being saying about you? Try visualisation exercises when you’re doing this.
Next steps…. making it happen! The way to make what you really want to happen is to have conversations with intent.
Stop fluffing and start committing to getting what you want.
When your boss asks you what you want, tell her or him. When your coach or mentor asks what you want, tell them. When someone in your network asks if they can help, say yes and tell him or her how. Your boss, colleague, coach, friend, partner or is not a mind reader!
No-one is waiting to anoint you or appoint you to the role, salary, life that you really want.
I can guarantee you though, there are plenty of people in your life that will be overjoyed when you ask them for help, when you declare what you really want. They will want to help you get it, because you are clear, purposeful, deliberate and intent on what you want and need. But you have to declare your intentions, ask for what you want then find the people who are going to enable that to happen.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Your journey to get what you want starts with you. So, what do you really really really want? Say it out loud!
Michelle is an astute businesswoman & keen entrepreneur who has founded a business to advise women about how to shatter the glass ceiling & be successful, in whatever way they define success. Founded by a woman, run by women, for women and the organisations that employ women. Michelle is a mentor, advisor, runs events & speaks about her vision to create a gender equal world. Michelle’s business supports, advocates, activates and champions women of all ages and stages.
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