Couple years ago Pantene came up with outrageous ad. It was shocking because it was… well, true (just see for yourself). Men and women are viewed differently.
Actually, we all can be viewed differently (talking about true diversity). Depending on a situation, women can be preferred or rejected. Men can be pushed up or down. Even though many use the rhetorics against men, the cruel reality is that we all live in the world of labels. (I guess there is no real inclusion here.)
We are measured by an invisible scale and compared to unspoken expectations. We can try to fit in or choose to make our own path.
Here are just couple tips to help you own your unique strengths and become a voice in the world of echo.
Know and own your strengths
Understanding who you are and what you bring to a table is the first step to owning your position and having an impact you want to have. Being different can be scary, yet it can become your greatest asset. There is strength in diversity. Keep in mind that there is actually a thin line between strengths and weaknesses. Your greatest strength can become your greatest weakness if you let it. Stay balanced, but also own who you are and how you get stuff done. There are many assessments out there that can help you clarify your core strengths, my absolute favorite is Kolbe.
Lead with your strengths
Knowing your strengths is powerful. But using them in your workplace can be harder to implement. Start slowly with spending your best time and energy on tasks and projects that are right in your array. Whether you are able to pull it off in your regular work or you need to take on volunteer project, start doing something that will make you shine. Like attracts like and as time goes by, you will start getting similar workload and being moved in the right direction. It doesn’t happen by accident. You must be intentional about it.
Shut your critics down… with a smile
It isn’t easy to be called “bossy”, but I’ve learned to flip it around with a smile and remind those around me about the benefits of it. When people say that I am bossy, I correct them with a smile, “Yes, I can really make things happen faster than many others, right?” Reframing negative statement into a positive one is extremely important if you want to change the rhetorics about yourself. It helps others realize the other side of the coin. Nobody’s perfect. Take it or leave it.
And sometimes (actually, almost all the time), you will need allies to help you get where you are unable to go yourself. Build a strong network of individuals who know your strengths, see your contribution and can speak on your behalf. These are the people who will help you break that glass ceiling that is just way to hard to get through.
Way too often we complain about others not helping us to get what we want. I live my life by the wise words of Zig Ziglar, “You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people to get what they want.” Living a life that revolves around you can be sad and lonely. Helping others expands your influence, makes a difference and turns you into a greater leader. It doesn’t matter whether you are picking a vendor, board member or team leader, look beyond labels yourself and set a strong example for others to follow. Create the reality you wish to see. What you change in a smaller scale today can be a great pilot for a future change on a larger scale.
Don’t give up
Life’s not easy. The labels we wear and judge each other by are not helpful at all. But whether you are a woman, minority, immigrant, person of color, too young, too old, mom, person with disability, bossy, pushy, or anything else, decide to be the best and do the best you can right where you are with what you have. I find that almost every time being a person of character, integrity, with great relationships and influence helps me enjoy my life to a greater extend. When the curtain falls, the positions you achieved and medals you accumulated will not warm you up or make you happy. Pursue the right things and enjoy every moment you are given. These little every day moments are what truly matters.
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