For many years now, I’ve found myself looking at a situation and thinking that the young me would never have had the courage to do, say, or act in the way that I do now.
I’m not saying that I am rude or abrupt, but rather that I live by the phrase “what’s the worst that could happen” if I raised my concerns, went against the grain of thought, or was just myself, whatever that meant in that moment.
For me, Courage has developed over the years.
I certainly didn’t start off strong, instead it was little steps that have gotten me to the level I am today.
It really doesn’t take much, and smaller steps will give you the confidence to try further.
A few of my moments of courage over more than 20 years working in a male dominated industry have been:
- Asking for help from HR when I was going through a relationship breakdown and I felt like I was in a spiral
I clearly remember the day I sat in the Director’s office and broke down in tears unashamedly, and was open and honest with her. Her guidance and support was invaluable as she referred me to a counsellor to help me work through rebuilding my confidence.
- Knowing that I wanted a change at the company I was at, I took the step to have a coffee with a Manager in a different department in an attempt to persuade them I would be able to do the role (even though I had no direct experience for the role).
That step has allowed me to progress through the Supply Chain roles I have held, and moved me away from the Finance based roles I was in.
- Asking for an additional few months off when I took my maternity leave after having twins. I had already had 12 months off, but as I edged closer to returning to work, realised I needed a few extra months to sort through possibilities with what would happen once I returned to work.
Being open and honest about when I was ready to return was a major part of preparing myself, and one that I was so glad I had the courage to ask for.
- Letting my personality remain unchanged, regardless of the roles I had achieved or what others were doing.
I had seen many women over the years, try to be someone they were not naturally when they reached a managerial position. They went from someone who everyone thought they wanted to work for, to someone who drove poor engagement as they scrambled to figure out what people thought they should be.
I have learned that it is my personality that has been the difference for me, and something that should never be compromised.
- Speaking up in meetings to more senior management, even if it meant that what I was saying would throw a spanner in the works. I have always believed that ensuring all the facts are considered are an essential part of a business doing the right thing and succeeding.
- Not accepting no for an answer all the time has been an area that is becoming an area that I have developed the most over time.
In more recent years, when I approached a manager about a role vacancy, the first answer from them was of hesitation. It took an enormous amount of courage that day to respond with “you need to consider me for the role”.
In years gone by, I would have thought to myself, “oh well, I’ve asked”, so the amount of courage to say those words, for me was HUGE!
Courage doesn’t have to be an enormous feat, although it can be, and can make you feel so much stronger once you get through the moment.
The dictionary describes courage as “the ability to do something that frightens one”.
In the examples I have used, and many others I haven’t listed for you, courage has been a moment in time where I have done or said something that I was initially fearful of asking for or doing.
It takes just one step in time, so that you’ll never have to wonder “what if”.
I coach women in male dominated industries how to stride confidently through whatever is thrown at them in their career and their life.
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If you want to feel confident that you have what it takes to flourish and achieve the career you want along with balancing your life and family, then what have you got to lose?