Don’t Be Afraid of What You Can Do

It’s time for women to be fearless in all that they do, particularly in their careers
It’s time for women to be fearless in all that they do, particularly in their careers

Women have made milestones of progress throughout history. But there is still plenty to be accomplished, especially in the workforce. There are still many career fields that have more men than women. Information technology, medicine, finance, major corporate management (CEOs), news media and even religion all seem to have more men than women in any level of leadership. In these places, many don’t value the female opinion without a woman a significant amount of research, weight of authority and buy-in to prove herself.

Women have heard it before, but it bears repeating: Speak up, raise your hand, sign-up and step forward. But what if this really isn’t who you are? Doing all of these things doesn’t mean you should change who you are and be someone you aren’t. It means to be bold in what you know.

Today is the day—the day you decide that what you know, what you have done, your mistakes and accomplishments, have all created your career history. But it’s inside of you. You’re still learning and growing, but you are also teaching and guiding others. You are able to do this because you have earned your internal stripes in your career. You’ve done the little things and the big things to get where you are. There were moments when you weren’t sure this was for you and thought about changing paths, but you decided to stay the course. You know what you know because you’ve done it. Now that you are saying this out loud, you have to own it. Owning it means you can.

You can interject into the meeting when the room gets off course. You can say the process being proposed is not going to work. You can take charge of the project because you see it stalling at a critical place. You can apply for the position that is two or three levels above where you are. It’s one thing to know what you know; it’s another to speak it, own it and accept it. Today is your day of acceptance, because you can.

What are you accepting, exactly? You’re accepting that whatever your career or position—senior CPA, promising partner, chief of medicine, senior manager, project team lead—you’re where you are because you kept moving into who you are supposed to be. You don’t need to explain your story to anyone. Men don’t explain—they say it, expect it to be done and move on to the next task. They don’t explain why their directions should be followed or all they’ve done that taught them what they know. They speak it, direct it and then complete the next assignment. Once you take the stance of owning your “can,” then you will speak with expectation, move with a knowing energy, and stand in your presence that has always been there.

The numbers for men and women in the workplace may not change for a while, but it doesn’t mean that you should sit by and wait for that day to come. Right now, in this moment, you can be the key player in the office. To do that means you have to know it before anyone else will see it. When you know you can, you will work in a way that exudes the energy of someone who knows what she knows and doesn’t need to explain it.

A woman must speak up with no apologies and state her case. Raise your hand, talk a little more loudly, and be more forceful with your opinion.