Ladies, Hard Work Will Not Get You To the Top. Three ways to stop working harder and start working smarter.
I recently spoke at a women’s leadership conference and instead of having to get in, out and on to my next event, I had time to participate as a learner. The loudest message I repeatedly heard from several successful females in the business world was this: hard work will NOT get you to the top.
As women, many of us believe if we work hard it will be noticed and we’ll be rewarded and promoted for it. I have to say I’ve been operating under this belief my whole life. One of my strongest core values relates to working hard for the things I want, and I’ve prided myself in being a hard worker.
A frustrated, exhausted and often burned out hard worker. Ugh.
It’s time to work smart AND hard.
Here are 3 ways to have more success without having to grind so hard:
- POSITION AND PROMOTE YOURSELF
As a Minnesotan, I was brought up under the strong social norm of not talking about yourself too positively or too much – it’s considered bragging. If you want to be liked, you don’t do it. I get really turned off by people who talk too much about the great things they’ve done, then get even more irritated by them being rewarded for it. Ha! Joke’s on me!
- No one is going to toot your horn for you – they’re too busy honking their own. Assume most people in your organization or business have no idea what you do. Make your value and contributions clear, as well as how they benefit the organization.
- To not sound like a total self-aggrandizing ass, use both “I” and “we”. For instance, “Because of the market research I did, we were able to save $100,000 on the project.”
- BUILD STRATEGIC RELATIONSHIPS AND CONNECTIONS
As a speaker, it’s unrelenting hard work finding the next client. I have a group of other speakers I’m close with and we regularly recommend each other to our contacts and clients. It’s “free” work we didn’t have to hustle for and makes all of our lives easier.
Ladies, we need to stop getting more mentors and find those who can actively promote us. “The Old Boys Club” still exists for a very good reason – it works. Men understand the power of relationships and a network to get them the jobs, titles and power positions they want.
- Who are the decision-makers and stakeholders that can help you? Who will advocate for you? Suggest you for the promotion? Introduce yourself. Let them know how your value can help them. Relationships are two way streets and it’s not just about you getting what you want, but how you can help each other.
- Build these relationships in a way that works for you. If being out on the golf course is not your thing, find other ways to connect. Do your research and find out what you have in common and what problems you can help them solve.
- HAVING ALLIES IS IMPORTANT
Allies are more “relaxed” professional relationships and are sources of information, feedback and support. Allies have your back. They find opportunities to publicly call out your accomplishments and offer help and encouragement when you need it.
- Cultivate diversity. We need allies outside our own groups. Women need allies who are men. Minorities need allies who are in the majority. As part of the GLBT community, having the rights I have now never would have happened without straight allies.
- Foster relationships in all levels of the business: leadership, management, support staff…they can be valuable champions, sources of information and access.
- It’s a quid pro quo relationship – you’re in it to help each other. Reach back and pull other people forward and don’t forget to always “send the elevator back down”.
Ladies, I’m a continual work in progress and I’m curious to learn from you. Would you please share in the comments how you successfully promote yourself, build strategic connections or use allies?
Let’s say you had a friend who was constantly exposing themselves to negativity. Day after day they spent their time and energy on things that made them feel bad about their job, income, accomplishments, body, house, wardrobe, car, etc… What would you think? What would you do? I’m guessing you’d think their behavior was ridiculous and question why anyone would purposely do things to make themselves feel terrible, and to go to such great lengths to do it.
Well, this “friend” is you and it is me. For example:
- We log onto our computers to check email and there are messages from online retailers telling us our clothes, home furnishings and electronics are outdated. But lucky for us, they happen to be on sale! There are messages from websites we follow promising self-improvement and success. I don’t know about you, but I quickly hit delete on these and feel like a loser for not investing in myself. Geez…I’m too busy deleting this crap from my inbox.
- We check social media and people are posting the best moments of their lives, making ours seem boring and inconsequential. Or they’re writing things that are negative or passive aggressive. I follow some people in my industry to inspire me and learn from what they’re doing, but some of it ends up making me feel bad about myself professionally.
- We’ll read the news and top headlines are all the horrible things happening in the world. It’s doom and gloom, pits us against each other and makes us feel powerless.
- We get the mail and it’s full of catalogs selling the latest fashion (we don’t have), home goods (we don’t have) or electronics (we don’t have). Retailers’ jobs are to make us feel like we don’t have enough and to create a sense of longing and scarcity in our lives. They promise happiness with every purchase, when in reality it’s fleeting and the cost of our consumerism may be keeping us in jobs or situations that rob of us of our happiness and sense of empowerment. What you have is not a reflection of who you are.
- Maybe we subscribe to health and fitness magazines because we’re looking for inspiration. Did you know research shows we’ll actually feel worse about ourselves after reading them? When I started doing yoga I subscribed to a magazine in order to learn more about the practice. Each issue that came talked about how to become a more mindful, self-aware, enlightened being. And each issue made me feel more and more like an oblivious, high strung cavewoman.
- We’ll watch TV “reality” shows featuring people living in the lap of luxury in huge mansions. Or home makeover shows telling us our countertops are ugly and that we need shiplap. Or cooking shows that make things look simple and easy…or tantalize us with the cake and cupcakes we’re trying not to eat.
Not only are these things making us feel bad, they’re consuming a lot of our mental and emotional energy. They’re robbing us of the ability to acknowledge all the good in our lives – the abundance, success and happiness that already exists.
TAKE BACK YOUR STATE OF MIND
I’m not suggesting you cut everything out of your life and live in a bubble. But I am asking you to reflect on all the messaging you’re consciously and unconsciously consuming each and every day – year after year – and how it’s making you feel and think.
Here are a five simple things you can do to minimize the messages of negativity and scarcity in your life:
- Unsubscribe to retailers’ emails. It takes less than a minute and saves a lot of time and mental energy on the backside.
- Call catalogs and ask to be taken off their mailing lists. I’ve been doing this the past year when I have 5 minutes here or there and it’s so worth it. Not only are you cutting down on temptation, you’re saving trees and resources.
- Stop buying or subscribing to magazines that don’t make you feel better about yourself after reading them.
- Hide people on your social media feed. You don’t have to unfriend them if you’re not comfortable with it. Just don’t let their posts show up in your feed. Social media is an optional leisure time activity – why should we opt in to negativity in our free time?
- Cut back on or stop watching TV. While on some level it may be inspiring to watch certain shows, ask what value they’re adding to your life. Or do they make you more judgmental and critical of yourself or situation? TV is also an optional leisure time activity – why choose to do something that makes you feel bad?
At PowerHouse Performance we offer keynotes, half- and full-day programs in addition to one-on-one coaching to help leaders and employees improve resiliency, performance, confidence and health. Please let us know how we can help your organization.
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