If I Could Speak to my 20 Year Old Self

 

20 years ago when I was in my early twenties and just starting out in business, I had so much going for me but unfortunately I did not have experience, I lacked confidence and I didn’t have a strong female mentor.  This combination can be disastrous.  No matter how talented and innovative and creative you may be these other challenges will limit you.  Seeing how much has changed recently in society and our culture is so exciting!  It means that so much more can continue to change and surprise us.  Just because it was acceptable to harass people in the past doesn’t mean it is anymore and that is massive. 

Looking back at the mistakes I made and the road blocks I encountered here are the key things that I wish I could have known:

Villains are everywhere and it is up to you to leap frog them by taking action.  In my early twenties I encountered my share of villains in the workplace from a woman that would bad mouth me out of jealousy to a man who sexually harassed me daily at work.  I felt like a victim, I liked my job and most of the people I worked with but I didn’t know how to change the situation.  What I know today is this standing up for yourself in a calm manner is the most powerful and impactful thing you can do.  Today when confronted with a villain I am sure to stand up to them and let them know they cannot treat me like that as I will not tolerate that.  While this sounds scary, I promise you this is one way to make the villain move on and leave you alone.  Villains bank on people being afraid and staying quiet and not standing up for yourself.  Finding the courage to stand up for you will boost your confidence and knock the villain back. 

The most powerful thing you can do is to just be yourself.

Owning your own voice and speaking up takes practice but with time becomes second nature.  Twenty years ago when my confidence was low, I never felt sure if my ideas were good ones or not.  That meant that if I was in a meeting, I wasn’t raising my hand to contribute for fear that someone else would say it was a terrible idea.  This takes practice but speaking up can be learned.  Challenging yourself to speak up one time a day and starting off small will work.  I also realize today that people are invited to a meeting or to be on a team for their potential contrbutions.  By not contributing you are actualy not holding up your end of the bargain.  Do your job, speak up and contribute.  What is the worst that can happen?

Confidence is not something that you are born with it is something you build.  Confidence is the one thing that changes everything so it is worth putting some time into building it for yourself.  You are the best investment you will ever make.  Recording your small wins in your journal and celebrating them helps.  Having a playlist ready to listen to in order to fire you up before a big meeting is a must. Having an outfit that makes you feel like a superhero and allows you to channel your inner wonder woman is a must.  Every time you speak up, try something new, stretch yourself or give yourself a compliment you take action to grow your confidence muscle.  Firing the people in your life that don’t support you will jumpstart this initiative.  Deciding to listen to your inner voice over everyone else’s will make that muscle expand.  Leaving yourself notes about why you are so great and special will help to pick yourself up when you may really need it.  

No one is better than anyone else and no one is perfect.  We are all on the same playing field.  Twenty years ago I looked at the senior leadership at work as if they were gods.  Somehow they knew all of the answers and I was just there to do the work.  That was not real.  Having the realization that we are all equals and no one should be on a pedestal has made me feel so much more relaxed and confident regardless of who I meet or work with.  Remembering that everyone has had their heart broken, had the flu, lost something they cared about and cried helps me to see us all as the same.  Feeling bad for those that try to project a perfect image as they are the ones that are really suffering has helped me to shift perspective and empower myself.   

Anyone that is trying to intimidate you is afraid of you on some level. 

When I was younger and someone would try to intimidate me I would feel scared and feel as though I was being batted around.  Today I realize that if someone is trying to intimidate I need to laugh because there is something about me that threatens them.  People only try to imitimdate when they are threatened themselves. I should have actualloy felt empowered all of those years.  This realization is a powerful one. 

Your vision and opinion is just as valuable as anyone else.

Speaking poorly about yourself or using self deprecating humor in the workplace will allow others to do them same.

Years ago, I used to make blonde jokes and call myself a ditz thinking that others would find it funny.  What I have learned is that I was teaching people how to speak to me.  Once I realized this I changed my dialogue to one of powerful supportive words that speak to my talents.  Choose your words mindfully as people are really listening to you. 

There is no place for apologizing at work.  So many women apologize at work and everywhere in their life.  For me, I finally realized it at the gym.  I was constantly apologizing to others if they bumped into me.  What is that?  Why was I apologizing for someone bumping into me? That is when I decided to stop the madness.  Instead of saying sorry I decided to say excuse me.  The next phase of this movment was to stop apologizing if I was late for a meeting and intstead to thank others for their patience.  This deletion of the phrase I am sorry sky rocketed my confidence and changed the way others responded to me. 

Dressing in a way that makes you feel powerful and beautiful is something to celebrate.
At my first job, I had a more senior woman sit me down to tell me that I should wear pants to work not skirts and that I should wear my hair up not down because I was sending the wrong message.  Today I realize that anyone should dress as they see fit.  It makes sense to assess the environment and see how your style can thrive in the company culture but there is no reason why you cant wear a skirt or be feminine in business.  Frankly, I have built a career off being a powerful yet feminine woman. No matter what your style or image be proud to own what is unique about you.  

We all have superpowers it is up to you to discover and own yours. 
When our confidence is low it is easy to think that there is nothing special or unique about us.  The truth is there is something unique and powerful about everyone we just need to find it.  If you are in a rut and struggling to find what it is you need to tap the people that know you the best to ask them for help.  Ask them what makes you special and unique and get ready for some really fantastic insight into the superpowers you own. 

Shining your light is your responsibility to the world. 
If people don’t shine their light the world becomes a very dark place.  Instead of looking at shining your light as an option look at it as your job and responsibility to the world.  The world needs your unique gifts that is why you are here hiding them from everyone is criminal.  Shine bright today and everyday. 

Picking your head up to see how you can impact the world in a positive way, use your talents to drive your income and fuel your passion will take you exactly to where you need to go.
When I was young I simply chased a pay check. I felt batted around and not in control of my life which was not positive.  Realizing that chasing a pay check will never allow you to find true happiness is critical in achieving sustainable success.  For me that was figuring out what it was that I could contribute to the world, while making an income and using my talents.  This is time well spent, pick your head up and discover where you need to be.  

Being transparent and communicating with others will shine a light on shame which will empower you and dissolve fear.
Having been harassed many times in my career I am all too familiar with the feeling of shame and the want for issues and problems to go away.  Unfortuntely, shame grows when you try to hide it and harrassers grow in power when they get away with their awful actions.  Learning to be honest with others and own those moments that I used to feel ashamed of have made me feel stronger.  Sharing ugly stories and knowing that I am helping others empowers me and strengthens me.  

Fear is a liar.
This is one of the most powerful statements I know.  Accepting that fear is a liar and nothing but ideas that I have made up in my mind has changed everything for me in my life.  whether it is a fear that something could happen to my son or a fear of what can happen at my next presentation or fear of what someone may say the story created in my mind is always worse than any reality. I own the power to dissolve the fear by accepting that it is not real.  These days when I feel fear I go running right to it, that is the only way to prove it is a liar and it always pays off. 

Your life is a direct result of your choices and actions.  If you don’t like something change it.
Years ago I thought I went where life took me and I felt as a viewer not a participant.  Little did I know that was a choice.  We are all in charge of our lives in every moment and we are only one decision away from completely changing our lives.  Accepting this and taking action to improve our lives makes you feel empowered and electric.  Let someone else play the victim, I like playing the hero in the story of my life. 

Being proud of yourself is not something you need to do in private. 
I find this amuzing today.  I used to think the idea of celebrating myself publically was tabu and that everyone would think I was a narcissist.  I was focused on what others may or may not think today I focus on what I am proud of and the positive impact I can have on others.  If I inspire one person through celebrating my win than I am happy.  It is your duty to lift up the world why not do it today by sharing your success and feeling proud. 

 

If you stand by the side of the water long enough you will see all of your enemies float by.
This is a great quote that I learned 5 years ago from a friend at work. I Had been complaining about a terrible person at work and how I couldn’t stand that she could get away with her horrible behavior.  That is when my friend told me to let it go take a step away and focus on my work and move me forward.  Doing so continued to advance me and eventually this awful person was discovered.  The truth has a way of coming out eventually. 

Surround yourself with the people that lift you up and fire the people that try to pull you down.
We all have people at work and in our personal lives that give us energy and make us feel fantastic.  Make a conscious effort to spend as much time as you can with these people.  Conversely we all have those negative people that drag us down and leave us feeling drained.  Find a way to fire those people or create boundaries to keep them at bay. 

Don’t give up.  You can’t see how all of the dots are connecting together until after they have.  Keep your faith and keep moving forward.

Being strong and clear does not make you a bitch.

Anyone unique and strong will have haters – that is something to be celebrated not something to get you to back down.
When I was in my twenties I would have never launched a personal brand like I did when I turned 40.  Putting myself out there meant letting haters in and I would have been petrified of haters when my self confidence was low.  Today I know that haters are about them and not about me.  If they dislike something about me it is either that they are jealous, resentful or are simply insecure.  The haters come out when you are doing something different and that means that you are special so today I get excited when I get a new hater.  I also know that not everyone can like you because everyone doesn’t have good taste.