She Leads Contributor Series
Written by: Amy Collett
Growing your career can feel stressful and overwhelming, but there are many ways to gain the recognition you deserve in the workplace. Below, find out how to navigate challenges and discover helpful resources for getting ahead and achieving the career you’ve always dreamed of.
Defining Your Career Goals
It’s tough deciding exactly where you want to take your career, but you don’t have to have every single stop planned out on your career path. Setting bite-sized goals can take you a long way in achieving the career you want. These resources can help you find direction.
She Leads Engagement Labs and Courses for Women Leaders and Women Entrepreneurs
How to Set Ambitious Career Goals You Can Realistically Accomplish
SMART Goal – Definition, Guide, and Importance of Goal Setting
8 Ways to Stay Accountable With Your Goals
7 Things You Should Do When You Fail to Achieve Your Goals
Handling Workplace Challenges
Thinking about the goals you want to achieve is great for looking to the future, but knowing how to navigate the day-to-day challenges of work is instrumental in reaching your goals.
6 Workplace Conflicts and How to Deal with Them
Resolving Conflict In The Workplace, According To Female CEOs
Signs You’re in a Toxic Work Environment — and How to Handle It
5 Strategies for Coping With People Who Talk Too Much at Work
How to Effectively Talk to Your Boss: 20 Do’s and Don’ts
Resources to Help Fuel Your Success
There’s a lot you can do yourself to advance your career and learn how to thrive in the workplace, but sometimes it helps to have additional guidance. These resources can help you achieve your goals.
How to Learn a New Job Skill in Just 15 Minutes a Day
Free Online Courses for Career Development
Tips for Women Thinking of Starting their Own Business
Small-Business Grants for Women: 10 Go-To Spots
The Small Business Resource Center for COVID-19
Finding success in your career takes time and dedication, as well as the ability to be flexible when things don’t work out as planned. Whether you’re looking for more recognition, hoping for a promotion or want to start your own business one day, hopefully, these resources can help you find success.
Blog post written by She Leads Contributor, Amy Collett
Have you ever paid close attention to your thoughts, like a third-party observer? Have you ever noticed the stories you tell yourself throughout the day? And most importantly, have you ever noticed how many of these thoughts and stories are actually negative?
Every thought we think, every word we say to ourselves is a blueprint from which our mind takes action. The mind truly doesn’t care whether what you’re telling it is true or false, bad or good. The mind simply absorbs whatever you feed into it. If you tell yourself you’re not a good leader, your mind believes that to be true. If you tell yourself you can’t get the promotion, your mind follows suit. Our bodies don’t know the difference between our real lived experiences and our fake thoughts and the emotions we’ve created as a result of our thoughts.
When you think about the things you think you can’t do, or goals you think you’ll never achieve, who is the person telling you that you can’t? Most of the time, it’s your own mind, convincing you that you aren’t good enough, smart enough, beautiful enough. It’s your mind fabricating these stories, to the point that you believe it like it’s fact.
“I’m not creative”
“I have no idea what I’m doing”
“I can’t pull that off”
“I’m not smart enough to work here”
“I don’t have enough money”
Do these kinds of phrases ring a bell? Take a moment to think about some things you believe to be true about yourself. Now think about who has been telling you these things. I can almost guarantee it wasn’t your best friend telling you you’re not creative, or your significant other telling you you’re not smart.
The mind is our most powerful tool, and it can be used to our benefit or, conversely, to our detriment. If we wake up every morning, dwelling on the same problem or thinking in the same way, we remain trapped in these negative thought patterns and single stories. This then informs our lifestyle and behavior, and our brain continues to reinforce these negative thought patterns. What we fear controls us, but we can flip the switch to transform these behaviors.
We can train ourselves to wake up every morning and immediately think of the good. We can practice thinking positive things about ourselves, we can practice telling ourselves we are enough, we are strong, we are confident, we are smart. We can truly change our thoughts if we practice paying attention.
How? Our brains are more flexible than we once thought. Over the past 20 years, discoveries in neuroscience have revealed that we can easily change our brain’s makeup; this is called neuroplasticity. We are capable of re-structuring neutral pathways in our brains to produce new, positive behaviors. You know how the more you practice something, the better you get at it? The more you work and flex your bicep muscle, the stronger it gets? Well, it works the same way for your mindset. The more you practice being positive, the better you will become at producing positive thoughts. It’s that simple, and it WILL change your life.
So, our first step here is to strengthen this positivity “muscle.” For example, repeatedly engaging in a gratitude practice can strengthen neural pathways that produce happier thoughts, and you will have an easier time switching from negative to positive self-talk. We can convince our bodies to be grateful, to be positive, and to catch negative thoughts from prevailing.
Your thoughts dictate your feelings, your feelings dictate your actions, and your actions dictate your event. It all begins with the thought, and changing that initial thought will actively reframe the events of your own life.
We must tell our minds what we want, who we are, what we are capable of, instead of letting our minds control us.
If you’re looking for ways to start, I recommend beginning each day by writing down three things you are grateful for. This helps set the tone for the day and forces you to think about the good in your life before you immediately jump to your to-do lists and everyday stressors. The more you do it, the easier it will come. Be patient and hold yourself accountable!
If you want to up your game even more, incorporate positive affirmations into your day as much as possible. In addition to expressing gratitude, tell your mind what you want with affirmations.
Like I said, your thoughts become your reality, so practice making your thoughts productive. Get creative, and tell yourself exactly what you need to hear.
Positive Affirmation examples:
- I am headed in the right direction
- I am ready to face the challenges of the day
- I am exactly where I need to be
- I am strong
- I am capable
- I am smart
- I am at peace with myself
- I am content with what is
- I give myself permission to do what is right for me
- I am worthy of feeling good
- I am worthy of success
- Everything I need is already within me
As a CEO, I am frequently asked for advice, tips, or guidance, “how should I launch a podcast?” Or, “can you take a moment to look at my website?” The worst offender, “Do you have time to chat today? I’d love to pick your brain.”
I am not an apple tree, or a strawberry field. You cannot freely “pick my brain” at your leisure.
Why, you ask?
I have worked hard for years at educating myself, challenging my thoughts & beliefs, building my resolve and growing my confidence. I have opened myself up to new ways of thinking and I continue to enrich my own breadth of knowledge by engaging in conversations with all kinds of people. I work my ass off, and all along the way, I’ve learned incredibly deep and important lessons.
While it’s a seemingly innocent request, or to you, just a “quick favor,” to me, when you ask to pick my brain you are signaling that you don’t get it at all. You are signaling that you deserve access to my energy and my expertise, with little to no value in return.
I know my worth, I know that my value is immense, and it’s certainly not available free of charge. Access to my merit is a privilege. Yet, I see so many women willingly give away value due to cultural and societal conditioning. As a woman, it’s harder to say no– we are socialized from a very young age to be agreeable, to be nice, to say yes, to give more energy out than we receive.
Reminder: You don’t owe it to anyone to say yes, and more importantly, never apologize for upholding your boundaries.
Your time and knowledge is incredibly valuable. You are valuable. Most importantly, knowing your worth is not narcissistic or self-absorbed, it’s quite the opposite. Knowing your worth simply means you take pride in your work, you have self-respect, and you have healthy levels of self-esteem. You practice positive self-talk, you tell yourself how strong and smart you are. It means being confident, and confidence is a superpower.
As women, we must begin taking action and we must stop allowing others to take advantage of what we have to offer. Value is an equal exchange. If you don’t value my opinion, thoughts, and advice, and are not willing to offer me equal value in return, please move along.
Make your worth known and carry it with you in everything that you do.
This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t help others out, I’m all for paying it forward and giving my best advice to people – especially young women – that need guidance. Why? Because I have been on the other side of this, looking up to inspirational people, wishing so badly to learn from them and their wisdom.
So, if you are seeking expert advice, how can you ask this question in the best way possible?
Simply change the language you use, and have the awareness that if someone agrees to share her valuable time and hard-earned expertise with you, that there should be some type of value exchange. First, STOP asking “can I pick your brain?”. Rather, do your research and reach out with a compliment or something you’ve learned about them that has inspired you, or let them know what you specifically admire about their accomplishments. It’s a much more human and genuine approach to open a two-way dialogue and conversation. Humans crave making connections, sharing their wisdom and stories, and this approach is a much more mature and open-ended way to start a genuine conversation.
Don’t expect too much – a 15 minutes phone conversation or a few email exchanges may be all that you get. The more value you can provide, the more time and attention you may be given, but this is not always the case. Be grateful and express your gratitude.
In addition, you must accommodate their schedule. Don’t assume they’ll be able to meet you for a coffee. Or, in the context of today’s climate, meet with you 1 on 1 on zoom. Recognize this is a massive ask, and you may have to get creative with your communication.
If and when you do land a meeting, treat it like an interview. Come prepared with questions, come prepared to talk. Yes, hopefully you will be doing a lot of listening too, but prove to them the reciprocal nature of this conversation. Provide THEM with some value too.
Lastly, express endless gratitude and be humble. Be kind, complimentary, and immediately write a thank you note.
Part of being a successful entrepreneur is expanding your network and meeting key players in your space, putting yourself out there, and being brave. It’s important, especially as women, to learn to ask for exactly what we want. This is something that men seem to have an easier time doing.
Reaching out to industry experts is an excellent way to learn more about your passions and, further, hearing people’s stories, failures and successes, is empowering and inspirational. However, this can be tricky territory to navigate – as evidenced by the “Can I pick your brain?” mistake that I see so many people making. By simply adjusting your perspective and thinking about the value that YOU can offer, you’ll have a better chance at growing an all-important network and earning the trust and respect from those you truly admire.