Courage (and Girl Power)

Courage (and Girl Power)

I’ve been thinking a lot about courage and confidence lately – two favorite themes of mine – and coincidentally had two smart, powerful women clients the same day where these topics came up. It’s funny how issues that are on my mind, like the confidence gap between the genders, are often highlighted by the challenges my clients face.

One of the reasons I’ve been thinking about courage (aka girl power) the past couple months is the eloquence of 16-year-old activist’s Greta Thunberg as she has spoken out in defense of the environment. When I was a young girl, I was expected to behave, be quiet, and respect my elders – even when their behavior might not have deserved my respect. Greta’s independence, spunk and sureness in her cause are inspiring. It’s unlikely she always feels confident, but clearly she cares enough to do her important work anyway. (Here’s her speech to world leaders at the UN Climate Action Summit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KAJsdgTPJpU)

And then there’s Alex Borstein’s recent Emmy award acceptance speech (at right) where she told the story of her Grandmother’s audacious question to a guard (i.e., authority figure). Being “out of line” literally saved her life. (For more inspiration, you can watch Alex’s speech here: https://www.emmys.com/video/71st-emmy-awards-alex-borstein-wins-outstanding-supporting-actress-comedy-series)

My own clients continue to impress and inspire me with their courage as they speak up in their careers. One noted that things changed for her dramatically when she stopped worrying about disappointing her boss and instead said she didn’t wanted to to disappoint herself. When her true priorities became clear (e.g., her daughter and her health), it became easier to say “no” to a culture of over-working.

Another client, who works in international childrens’ rights, has recently become more willing to say what needs to be said – even if it’s to powerful funders and the message isn’t popular. When I asked her what the worst thing was that might happen, her answer was perfect. She said, “I don’t care.” What she does care about is serving children who don’t have a voice.

When we get clearer about what our priorities are and what we truly care about, it becomes easier to be courageous and to stand up to authority. Of course, there’s space here for the men to be courageous, too, perhaps even just in supporting the women around them. Something as simple as saying in a meeting, “Bob, before we move on to your comment, I’d like to hear more about the idea Sally just mentioned” can make a huge difference in an organization’s culture.

Where could you be more courageous? Which of your personal priorities might make that easier? Where can you support those who might have less power than you?

Have courage!

p.s. Your comments are most welcome on this post at https://www.facebook.com/jenfrankcoaching

p.p.s. There is one spot left in a career coaching group starting Nov 11 in Memphis. More information here: http://jenfrankcoaching.com/career-group/

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Watch your language! (Part 2)

Watch your language! (Part 2)

In the last “Watch your language” blog, I talked about “I have to” and “I can’t.” Now let’s take a look at the S word: Should.

“Should” is a red flag when my clients (or I) say it. It really ought to read “I should do ____, BUT I DON’T WANT TO.” If you don’t want to or aren’t going to, simply own it. “I don’t want to do this right now. I will forgo the benefit it would give me in favor of the benefit I receive for not doing the thing.”

For example, I may say “I should do yoga” and then sit and read a book instead. I’ve exchanged the health benefits of yoga for the immediate pleasure and relaxation of reading. On some days, that is actually the better choice and the thing that takes care of me the most. And if I balance the reading days with the yoga days, it all works out. Some days, I may even do both.

What doesn’t work so well is when I make a lot of judgments about why I’m bad or wrong for not doing what “I should.” These are just choices. When I’m ready to make a different choice, I will. Bullying myself or giving myself a guilt trip doesn’t really work with me; it just makes me feel down – and less inspired to do the thing “I should!”

Where are you telling yourself “I should do ____,” but the truth is you don’t want to? Will you want to do it later – or at least be willing to? Do you need to come up with an entirely different action? Is the thing you are choosing to do instead of what you “should” do actually what you need right now?

Remember, you are always at choice, and each choice comes with benefits (and consequences). If you don’t like your current choices, find some new ones. Get honest with yourself about what you really want and what it takes to get it. And to get started…

Watch your language!

p.s. Your comments are most welcome on this post at https://www.facebook.com/jenfrankcoaching´╗┐

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Watch your language! (Part 1)

Watch your language! (Part 1)

Recently, I’ve had to ask several clients to watch their language. A number of them have been using the H word and the S word: Have-to and Should.

Cleaning up the “I have to’s” gives us agency in our own lives; it emphasizes that we are always at choice. You don’t actually have to go to work. But you probably choose to because (at the very least) you get a paycheck. When you see that you are making a choice, it illuminates other choices and possibilities.

One client told me “I have to volunteer.” Now that doesn’t sound right, if I understand the definition of “volunteer!” So we looked at the benefits he gets from volunteering: community, being of service, and feeling part of something that’s important to him. (And he said it also gives him an excuse so he won’t feel pressured into doing “volunteer” work he doesn’t want to do. Clearly, the benefits are unique to the individual!)

“I can’t” is often just the negative version of “I have to.” While it would be true if I said “I can’t make the US Olympic gymnastics team,” it would be untrue if I said “I can’t take 2 months off from work.” I could take an extended vacation, but I choose not to because A) it would mean I couldn’t keep my commitments and B) it would interrupt the momentum of my business.

Are you starting to see how it’s a more mature, intentional way to operate when coming from a place of choice (instead of being in the victim role where you have no choice)? Where do you say “I have to” or “I can’t?” What is the benefit you receive from your current actions? How could you clean up your language and take ownership of your choices? You have agency in your own life!

Next time, we’ll take on “I should.” In the meantime…

Watch your language!

p.s. Your comments are most welcome on this post at https://www.facebook.com/jenfrankcoaching´╗┐

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