I was speaking with a dear friend recently. A woman I have known for more than half of my life. I have always admired her drive, her intelligence, her poise, her great sense of style. She was telling me about a disappointment she had just experienced. A promising opportunity suddenly wasn’t.
“I have a lot of things stacked against me”, she said. “My age, I’m a woman and I’m Black.”
“Whoa! Hold up” I said, trying not to yell into the phone. “You are also well educated, highly skilled and very experienced. So which set of facts do you want to lead with?”
“I know I need to be more positive”, she responded.
Wrong!! This is not about thinking positive. This is about believing in yourself. It’s about knowing the value you offer and having confidence in that.
A few days later, I received a call from another friend. She was calling to update me on her quest to gain admission to a prestigious program. This program only admits a certain type of person; certain type of background, certain level of title.
Fully aware of all of this, and knowing she didn’t quite fit “the type”, she submitted her application anyway, complete with references and recommendations from some pretty impressive people.
Mature, female and African American, she is undaunted by not being “of a certain type”, and is pursuing this with all out abandon. She is absolutely convinced, as well she should be, that not only will the program help her accomplish her life’s mission, but her unique and collective experience and accomplishments will add value and a diverse perspective to the program. I’ve never met a program that couldn’t stand a fresher and more diverse perspective.
She has gathered a veritable choir of supporters to keep her encouraged and to sing her praises – in earnest -via letters of recommendations. Her passion is formidable and infectious.
And the synchronicities are several and continuous. She has begun to downsize, selling or giving away unused and unwanted items. When she receives her letter of acceptance, she will only have four things to do:
- Empty the refrigerator
- Take out the trash
- Drop her car off at a storage facility
- Head to the airport.
That is how strong her desire and vision are.
What you believe about yourself matters. It shows up in your language and how you speak about yourself. It shows up in how you present yourself.
What you believe permeates what you think and how you think and ultimately what you expect.
And, whether you believe this or not, what you think about is what you will experience. What you believe shows up in your life everyday.
If you believe you have a lot of things stacked against you, it will be difficult to convince someone that you are the solution to their challenge; that you can help them achieve their business goals or make them a rock star.
I’m not suggesting for a moment that sexism and racism and ageism don’t exist. Certainly there are people whose perspectives are clouded by bias and ignorance and will withhold career and life opportunities based on their preferences. There’s nothing you can do about that. Besides, people who operate that way cut off their own blessings.
Buying into the limitations others subscribe to only help to make those limitations your self-fulfilling prophecies. You have to see beyond the stacks others have erected. Otherwise you will never get past them.
Your task, our task, is to pursue our goals and dreams with all out abandon. Sure, we’ll get some no’s. We may even get a lot of them. But there’s a yes out there with your name on it.
And you know, you can always, always create opportunities for yourself rather than wait for someone to give you an opportunity. It’s what you can do in the meantime.
Please don’t let someone else’s biases or labels or misguided perceptions become your definitions of you. What you believe about yourself matters more than anything else. Your life literally depends on it.
BTW, this is exactly the type of challenge a Certified Life and Transition Coach can help you work through; help you to see the you that you can’t see. Working with a Certified Life and Transition Coach can help you better position yourself not just in your career, but in life. It is the single most valuable investment you will ever make.
Life is about choices. What will you choose for you today?
Empowering Question of the Week: What do you really believe about you? Journal about it candidly as if no one but you will read it. No one else should.