Brene Brown says vulnerability is the pathway to connection. Yet so many of us women are afraid to show our vulnerability, especially at work, because we believe we will appear to be weak.
The advent of feminism and women’s increased empowerment has left many of us believing that simply being a woman, is not enough to succeed. If we want to get on, we have to be more like a man. Yet, it is our femininity that sets us apart and we should embrace it. When did being a woman become a symbol for weakness?
Because we don’t want to appear to be weak, we don’t ask for help or seek support and believe we must work all the hours at work, come home and be the wife, mother and partner, and if we aren’t in any of those groups; play hard, work out at the gym excessively. We have become superwoman and can do everything! It is exhausting!
The reality is that we may believe that this is the path to success, it is more likely to end in burnout. Then what?
The solution lies in our vulnerability, our ability to admit we are not men, and we cannot do it all and be everything to everyone.
Before you rush off thinking I’m suggesting that you start crying at work, read on. We don’t have to do everything on our own. We can ask for help, buy in support; do whatever it takes to make our lives easier as we strive for success at work or in our business.
For example at work, delegate. I can’t say it more plainly. You have to empower your staff or team to do the work, so delegate work to them. You may believe they won’t do it as well as you, but you won’t know until you find out. Provide support and opportunities for them to check in with you, at key stages, but lets discover what they re capable of.
If you are a solo worker, what are you doing that could be passed to someone else? Could you buy in or recruit someone to do that work on a part-time or freelance basis? What do you need to stop doing? Are you a perfectionist and that’s why you work such long hours to get ‘it’ right?
Do you want promotion at work or to review your career direction? Hire a coach. You probably need a mentor too. It is an admission that you need support to achieve this, not the end of the world.
At home, enlist the support of your partner and children in the home. Failing that hire a cleaner, someone to do the ironing. I am in awe of one of my friends who has a cook. She runs a successful business and this helps her out. The cook prepares 5 meals each week from ingredients my friend has delivered from the supermarket, which are put in the fridge. So when she gets home, she takes out a meal for the family and heats it up. No Indian takeaway for her, or stressing about what to cook.
Men are also discovering that being strong and tough are not the only traits they need for success, and are taking softer skills like empathy and listening.
We want ambitious, confident women leading our organisations and running businesses, and getting involved in politics, not boasting how they thrive on 4 hours sleep a night.
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