If not you, who? If not now, when?
Multiple sources of research now tell us that organisations with gender diversity at a senior level are highly productive and profitable, evaluate risk well, plus perform well on a range of other performance indicators including customer and staff satisfaction. My mission in this is to help women to step up, speak out and take charge - and as a result I've created The Ambition Revolution mentoring program - boosting both confidence and accountability as we stretch. The definition of an Ambition Revolutionary is someone who embraces all aspects of being a woman in the workplace and then steps up, speaks out and takes charge to create a new reality for herself and others.
Recently I’ve been able to validate this definition while attending three simply awe inspiring events, spoken at solely by incredibly interesting women - entrepreneurs, social activists, bloggers, athletes, business owners, publishers and authors.
- Women Leading Change Conference – a conference for women leading (or aspiring to lead) change in their organisations, their communities and their worlds – hosted by Wake Up Project.
- Tara Moss – speaking on gender diversity in Australia as part of her book tour for The Fictional Woman at a Business Chicks breakfast.
- Run the World Brisbane – a conference for entrepreneurial women hosted by The League of Extraordinary Women.
As a result of attending and listening to this quite phenomenal collection of inspiring female speakers - here are my four key takeaways.
1. It’s okay to listen to your intuition - Frequently in our modern western society we praise left brain thinking (rational and logical and said to be more masculine) and look down upon right brain thinking (emotionally intelligent, intuitive and allegedly more feminine). Many of the women speaking at the above events referred to gut instinct and intuition as instrumental in their success. Perhaps it's a little like an early warning systems plugged directly into your subconscious, constantly providing you with great information. I’ve certainly felt the pressure not to let intuition and instinct rule. But in this new modern arena with realms of data and analytics, intuition and gut instinct has been argued to as good an indicator as many others as a part of a good decision making toolkit. So while I will continue to test my intuition with hard data and reporting, I’m also going to give my (feminine) intuition the credit it deserves.
2. Just do it
“Is better die trying than living without doing nothing”
“Worry is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere”
― Erma Bombeck
“Screw it. Let’s do it.”
- Richard Branson
We’ve all heard this maxim time and time again, yet most of us don’t actually live this way. Stop running all the what if scenarios in your head for days, weeks and months yet doing nothing about it. Instead, test it out, or simply execute straight away and you will know whether or not your idea going to work.
As women we've been socialised to do things properly and correctly. We might have even bought into the notion that competence trumps confidence. We are frequently (recovering) perfectionists despite knowing that this behaviour holds us back. But finding out that something works (or doesn't work) really fast is a great way to get started on something. Agonising over it for days is simply ....... agonising!
3. Don’t underestimate the power of confidence.
Listening to the stories told by these female entrepreneurs, athletes, business leaders and social activists was, quite simply, awe inspiring. If I thought I was on the right track before well I’m totally confident (pun intended) that delivering a mentoring program that builds confidence in women is not only a great idea, but is also the right thing to do.
“Success, it turns out, correlates just as closely with confidence as it does with competence.” - Katty Kay and Claire Shipman for The Atlantic.
4. Get used to discomfort and do it anyway.
You will feel uncomfortable, and yet it is an integral part of the journey. To paraphrase a recent episode of Tim Ferris TV while discomfort feels ….. well …… uncomfortable – it is where the growth, learning and magic happens. Each of the speakers at each event shared authentically and honestly about down times, despair and learning from failure in their desire to share openly and honestly with the audience and ensure that we understood that success doesn't come overnight and will feel distinctly uncomfortable most of the time. Want to learn more about the power of discomfort? Read The Discomfort Zone by Marcia Reynolds.
And for those of you who are time poor but want a little inspiration - here is a selection of Twitter highlights.