– Edward De Bono
We grow up learning from our parents, our teachers, learning from our mistakes, learning by watching others and modeling ourselves after those we admire. At some point, we develop that all important self-image that dictates who we are…..how we act in good times and bad, how we treat others and most importantly, the amount of confidence we have in living the lives we choose.
Our self-image controls the confidence with which we seek opportunities. When we are constantly comparing ourselves to others and finding ourselves lacking, it holds us back from taking a risk or asking for what we want. This is the kernel of truth that women like Sheryl Sandberg have been addressing lately. We can be our own worst enemies. When we are not paying attention to the power self-image has on us, we often do not realize the destruction that can happen in our ability to reach our goals.
How often do you find you are comparing yourself to others in the room and the voice in your head says “I am not as smart,” “I am not as pretty,” “I am not as articulate.”
I grew up a very shy, introverted girl, the oldest child of very smart parents who never told me I couldn’t achieve anything I wanted. The voice in my head, however, held me back because I let it tell me not to fail, not to draw attention to myself, not to disappoint others. The early failures that I should have learned from, pushed past and tried again left me with doubts about my ability. I still hear that voice occasionally when I walk into a room full of people but, with the help of good mentors, role models and friends, I have learned to push past it and listen to a new message….”stick out your hand and belong here.”
I am blown away when I watch this YouTube video because it illustrates this point so well: Dove Real Beauty Stretches
The impact our self-image has on our success as leaders cannot be over emphasized. As I illustrated with my own story, we can’t always change that voice in our head without help from others. The encouragement we can get from a mentor, a friend, a colleague is immeasurably important. When the voice has a different message for you, it changes how the world looks and how you feel in it. When that voice has another message, “I am capable and I deserve this,” you are ready to take on that big project, ask for that promotion or seat on a corporate board.
I believe Cable is providing that kind of support to many through the Mentoring Program we run each year for young leaders and the new Women on Corporate Boards Incubator Program. Cable provides that support through the nearly 600 members who can be that mentor, coach, friend, ally to you. Ultimately, it is up to you to understand how your self-image is impacting your ability to achieve your goals.
“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.”
– J.M.Barrie, Peter Pan
To all you Peter Pan’s out there, are you encouraging others to fly?