And that, Dear Reader, is a question I feel you should grapple with a little more.
Some while back, I received some ‘feedback’, from a person who objected to the writing style I’d used on a website page. They felt that it ‘wasn’t you Sue’ – or words to that effect. They went on at some considerable length to tell me who I was, how I communicated and what I did or didn’t do and what I was or wasn’t like…’You’re not like that…’
I had no say in this it seemed. This other person seemed to have a blueprint for me and how I behaved. They knew me better than I knew myself it appeared.
The truth is, it wasn’t their experience of me up until that point…but it was me, no doubt about it. Up until that moment, I simply hadn’t chosen to let them see it.
And the question I’d fire straight back at them now is, ‘Why can’t it be me?’
Why can’t I be a woman with different facets to my personality? Why can’t I be a complex, multi-layered person, with hidden depths, unplumbed talents and potential just waiting to be uncovered?
Why can’t I enjoy the excitement of not knowing what I don’t know about myself, and experience the joy of uncovering that with each passing year?
Why can’t I be a person who is warm, friendly and engaging, and also a person who can set boundaries, establish high expectations, express myself assertively and be bold, astute and ask incisive questions too?
Why can’t I be all of the those things and more, rolled into one person, and then choose which side of you I let you see?
And why can’t it be you, too?
Why can’t you learn to change how you show up so that you demonstrate there’s more to you than meets the eye? Why can’t you learn, develop, grow, change?
Just because those people around you may not have seen your potential, your true talents and ambition yet, doesn’t mean it’s not there.
One reason that other people may see you through a narrow lens and fail to appreciate exactly what you’re capable of is that you’re viewing yourself through a similar lens. In order to change that, you’ll need to:
- acknowledge your skills and talents
- understand your strengths
- build confidence
- overcome your barriers
- communicate in a way that will make other people sit up and take proper notice of you.
You’ll need to act with intention, have a plan – and commit to it.
You’ll need to learn how to communicate your leadership qualities with clarity, confidence and in a concise manner.
I’ve been reading Oprah Winfrey’s book, What I Know For Sure ( a great collection of thought-provoking and inspirational notes) and she quotes a mountaineer, W.H. Murray;
“Until one is committed there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves, too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred.”
Now, however you define providence, is up to you. I personally think that once we commit, it sends a strong signal to the Reticular Activating System in our brains, which then allows us to draw connections between what we’ve committed to, and powerful resources that are around us – which we may not have previously noticed.
This is encouraging news, because it means that although you may fear a tumbleweed-filled vacuum, in reality, there is support around you – you just haven’t seen it yet.
What are you currently denying yourself at work? What new challenges, new roles, new recognition and sense of achievement are you simply not allowing yourself to experience, because you’re busy telling yourself ‘it’s not me’?
There’s more to you than meets the eye. Don’t let yourself be pigeon-holed by other people’s impression of you. And don’t pigeon-hole yourself. If you even have an inkling that there could be more out there for you, ask yourself this question…
Why can’t it be me?
Make a list of every reason why it can be you and put it somewhere you’ll take notice of it.
If you’re looking for that next step up in your career, then The Communicate With Impact grid can help you to begin changing the way you communicate so you’re noticed by your key influencers. And while you’re at it, you may like to check out the Visible Leadership Programme too.
I’m Susan Ritchie, an author, leadership and executive coach and trainer. My second book, Strategies for Being Visible: 14 Profile-Raising Ideas for Emerging Female Leaders is now available as a paperback, an audiobook and for the Kindle reader.