A new year has just started, it’s the perfect time for reflection and I want to lift up this idea of making space for success in your life.
When we talk about making space for success, there are different aspects we need to look at:
- The first one is making space to be yourself and believe that you deserve to achieve your goals.
- The second one is making space in your professional environment.
- The third one is making space in society for yourself and other successful women.
Breaking it down even further, if you are a woman working her way up the corporate / academic ladder, you need to set the ground in all these areas. While if you are a woman entrepreneur, you mainly need to make space in the first and the third one.
If you are anything like my typical clients, you can find yourself in one of these situations:
- You are a woman in corporate who is struggling to put herself forward and be heard in a male-dominated environment. You are experiencing frustration and no advancement in your career.
- You are a woman in academics who is struggling with impostor syndrome and discrimination in a male-dominated environment. Again, you are experiencing frustration and no advancement in your career.
- You are a woman entrepreneur (or artist, another type of entrepreneurship) who is battling with perfectionism, procrastination, fear of failure or fear of visibility. You are experiencing frustration and no advancement in your business.
These situations may look very different, but the only actual difference is the kind of obstacles you can expect to face once you aim to success. And I suggest you focus on the obstacles, because it’s the quicker way to get them out of your way.
Women who work in corporate or academics typically have to deal with:
- The internal self-doubt, low or lack of self-confidence and impostor syndrome
- The concrete obstacles due to discrimination based on their gender
Women who are entrepreneurs or artists typically have to deal with:
- Perfectionism, procrastination, fear of failure, fear of visibility and fear of success
- The concrete knowledge about how to run a business
As you can see, both professional directions have two subsets, of course intersections are possible and none of these has anything to do with the actual competence. Competence comes with professional training + work experience and it’s a given if you want to do something meaningful and be successful at it, but not the only thing that matters. In other words: working more or harder won’t lead you where you want to be.
MAKING SPACE IN SOCIETY: CREATING NEW ROLE MODELS
The third obstacle, shared by all the women, is that success is still a controversial topic for women.
We are still in this situation, in which conventional thinking – based on gender roles and others’ expectations – doesn’t make enough space for women. It pushes women to please others, fit others’ expectations about the roles that are on the table waiting to be taken on. There’s an artificially created scarcity in the roles available for women.
Conventional thinking creates as well the false myth of perfection: the ideal of physical beauty (measured in standard, weight and centimetres) as a main concern and the expectations of being a natural beauty and look effortless.
Conventional thinking makes a tiny space for women in terms of professional success and ambitions. A subsidiary place. Not a place for the ones who make decisions and create impact.
Conventional thinking keeps women stuck in a space and a condition that is artificially created – where they aren’t enough and they keep spending time, energy and money in the effort of becoming enough – a imprecise deadline that can’t be tracked and therefore can’t be achieved. And women can keep running after a model that is created explicitly to be impossible to reach for their whole life.
Conventional thinking reproduce itself in silence, fear, shame and acceptation of the status-quo as something ‘natural’ – attributed to the gender as a measure of how natural this is.
Conventional thinking passes from a generation to another via education and communication. It’s doesn’t tolerate other options and promptly confines them in the place of the alternative and outsiders with the purpose of maintaining the status quo. It’s so ingrained that many women don’t even recognise that we have a problem with it.
But if 50% of the world population is occupying a space that is too tiny, 100% of the world population has a problem.
And the problem is that there isn’t enough space for women. And this is why we’re here – because we want to make space for ourselves and space for other bold, passionate, brave hearted women. And you, what do you want to make space for in 2016? 🙂