A few months ago I wrote a blog post for Women Aloud called ‘Can you have it all’…and in the editing of it I kept typing and then deleting ‘I’m sorry I have accomplished my version of all’, ‘I apologise for sounding smug’, ‘excuse me for saying this’…I didn’t feel comfortable talking about success; to admitting that I was winning at what I set out to do.
My husband reminded me that it’s OK to want to ‘have it all’ and to be proud of my efforts to get it. The kind ladies of the Women Aloud book club agreed, saying it’s inspiring that I’m achieving my version of having it all. Yet I still couldn’t help but cringe.
It got me thinking – why am I scared to admit that I’m proud of my achievements? Why am I reticent about striving for success? This same issue is having a knock-on effect for my business growth. I’m confident there is more untapped business out there, but I’m holding back from putting my foot on the throttle and going for it. Because to do so will be to grow, hire people, rent bigger offices etc. All of which feels like success I must keep up, and it terrifies me.
Is it more acceptable for men to be successful?
I have a transgender sister who has a fascinating insight into how life treats you as both a man and a woman. She was brought up as a boy, who played sport and enjoyed success academically and in lots of teams; albeit whilst coping with the big secret she was harbouring.
At 30 she transitioned to a woman and has since taken up Roller Derby, a sport she now plays internationally (she will represent Scotland at the World Cup in 2018). People often question whether she has an advantage from having been a man. She says the only advantage is a mental one. She was bought up a boy, encouraged to win and taught that it’s not just OK but that you should always strive for success. Something she constantly reminds her female team-mates of, who are apologetically humble about their achievements.
Do women shy away from success?
Is it just me and my sister’s team-mates or is it bigger than that? Are women afraid of being successful or are we just wary of telling people about our achievements and talents? As women, do we feel a need to be more modest about our ambitions and accomplishments than men? Is it a gender thing; norms of society; down to our individual personalities?
And more importantly what can we do about it? How can we change it so more women are loud and proud about their success?
What do you think? I’m really interested to know…
Post written by Jane B, one of our Women Aloud members, who started her own word-of-mouth marketing agency, Grapeviners.