Have you spent much time thinking about what’s best for you in your career or business? Are you ambitious for yourself?
Much has been written about women’s ambition, or lack of it. There are a lot of reasons why women don’t hold an equal number of positions in power as men and ambition is the very tip of a huge iceberg. See below:
Recent research from Bain and Company demonstrates that men and women have the same level of ambition and confidence when they enter the workforce. Yet after just two years, women’s ambition to reach top leadership goals drops 60% and their confidence drops 50%. Men’s aspirations and confidence remain the same.
The study draws the conclusion that corporate culture fails to nurture women’s ambition. Companies create barriers for women to reach leadership positions with antiquated workplace practices, gender bias, and lack of encouragement and support. The result is that women are now viewing their own pursuit of ambition as more stressful than it’s worth. Without role models and support, they don’t believe in the reality of their goals. They question whether it’s worth the effort. They are adjusting their goals in response.
Women Can Change the World!
Does that quote ring a bell with you? I really don’t like phrases such as ‘women lack ambition‘ because it tends to imply that somehow it’s all the fault of us women. The reality is, of course, that it’s a big problem for all of society, globally. We don’t have gender neutrality or gender balance and that skews things. Which is a crying shame because we women have something wonderful to contribute, to change the way of working, and to make life generally better. Companies that promote more women have a better quality on all their measures. Frankly, you owe it to the world to go out there and share your wonderfulness!
Given that on your own it will be hard to challenge all of our society (although don’t let that stop you having a go!) we have to look and see just what we can do. As ever, we start wth ourselves. We do what we can do, however small.
Your Personal Development Ambition Exercise
I’m taking a bit of a leap here, but I’d hazard a guess that you’re probably too busy to actively plan your career? Unless you are a statistical anomaly some of the following probably applies to you: you rush to the shops in your lunch break, take most of the responsibility for childcare (if thats relevant), get paid less than men in your organisation, find it difficult to speak up on your own behalf but are fabulous are helping out other people, generally look after things at home, plan the social calendar, etc, but you rarely take time out to think just about you and what you want from life and you job.
When you can, give yourself 20 minutes to let all that go. Take a long deep breath and only think about you and your brilliant career or business. Yes, I know this is outside of your comfort zone but trust me, I’ve done this before… Sit somewhere comfortable, relax, let a bit of the tension out and do some ….. colouring in.
Ahem. Yes, I did say ‘colouring in’. And no, I haven’t gone mad, well at least, not any madder than usual.
This is an exercise I sometimes use on our Speak Up day, to open up your creative juices and get you in the mood for thinking big! It requires coloured crayons, or wax crayons, or coloured ball points, or felt tips. OK, just grab a pencil then, but next time you’re haring around the supermarket throw in a packet of crayons for you. I’m currently in love with Sharpies but other brands are available.
Grab the largest sheet of paper you have to hand. Pick up the pen and finish the next few sentences:
The next logical step in my career is …………….
The next illogical step in my career is ………….. (Logic, yes, it’s good but not always.)
The next step but one in my brilliant career, i.e. two steps at a time, is ………….
The pinnacle of my career would be ……….
Now, the easy bit. Just sit and stare at your answers for a few minutes. daydream. Do not start overthinking or stacking the dishwasher or jotting down bullet points for the next board meeting. Just allow your mind to drift.
Once you’ve ‘drifted’ a while, pick up the pens, or pen singular, and, without using any words (this is really important) put down on paper what your perfect working life looks like. Your perfect career on paper. You can use shapes, colour, stick people, symbols, but try to avoid actual words. You can even cut pictures out of magazines if you want and glue them on (I used to run a playgroup, can you tell?) We’re trying to give you a brain stretch here and get you to think differently about your career. Really have fun with this and rediscover your playful side. Doing things differently helps us think differently.
Once you’ve doodled away for a while, put it aside and go do something else. Later, when you come back to it, imagine you are trying to explain it to a friend. What is it telling you about your next step?
Now write down three practical things that you can do within 1) one week, 2) within 3 months, 3) within the next 6 months, to bring you closer to achieving your wonderful career.
Now do them.
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Posted on March 30th, 2016 by Jane