If you haven’t heard the TED Talk from Reshma Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code, you’re missing out.
In her talk, she focuses on how women are conditioned from a young age to focus on being perfect rather than brave. We diminish ourselves, and stay quiet when we should speak, out of fear of being imperfect rather than showing what we’re made of.
It’s this same conditioning that causes us to apologize for showing our knowledge and aptitude. “I’m sorry, but I think these numbers are wrong.” Why are we apologizing for correcting a mistake?
Saujani goes on to say that if we teach our girls to be brave, and feel empowered to share their knowledge, the next generation will become unstoppable. We’ll start to tip the scales in male-dominated industries and change lives because we won’t be afraid to share our ideas.
But what about now? What about the women that are already in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and beyond that didn’t have advocates like Saujani to change minds (and lives)?
The Challenges of Change
To say change is uncomfortable would be the understatement of the century. As humans, both male and female, we’re wired to take the path of least resistance when it comes to challenging issues. This is part of the reason so many people are in jobs that don’t fuel their passion-- it pays the bills and it offers benefits, so why change even if you feel your life slipping away, right?
As our lives progress, we often become more resistant to change and more married to the path that has been laid out before us. We have become used to the way things are and continue not so merrily along.
Some people eventually hit rock bottom and make a change. Rock bottom sounds like an extreme situation in which something dire occurs, but can often just refer to waking up one morning and realizing that you need a change. Couples divorce, tenured employees change industries, Susan from accounting takes off on a spiritual journey to Europe, etc.
Lack of Support
Unfortunately, many of us stay the course because of a lack of support from our peers, whether real or perceived. As women, we tend to put others before ourselves. If the thought of making a change in our life seems like an inconvenience to others, we might avoid taking steps to make it happen.
In many cases, it is a fear of resistance from our loved ones and peers that prevents us from making a change. If we could just get the words out, if we could just be brave enough to speak our minds, we might find out that we have a strong support network.
This lack of bravery that we’ve been conditioned to feel results in an overwhelming amount of fear in the face of change. We fear failure, humiliation, being wrong. We lose the ability to think of the good things that could happen by making a change, and instead focus on worst case scenarios.
If you find yourself contemplating a change at any age, sit down and write four lists. One list should outline what bad things could happen by changing. The next will outline what good things could happen by changing. The last two should highlight what good and bad things could happen by remaining the same. Compare and contrast, then follow your heart.
Lack of Direction
Many people know that a change needs to be made, but struggle to determine what steps to take to get there. It can be hard to see the forest from the trees within our own lives. This is why so many people find success in having a coach help evaluate and direct the path toward their goals.
Being able to say “Here is where I am and here is where I want to be” and having someone respond, “here’s the map of how to get there” can reduce the fear and provide the support that is perceived to be lacking. Sometimes you need a voice of reason from outside your circle of influence to become your best self.
Making the Change
To make a change, we need to recondition our way of thinking and give ourselves a nudge in the right direction. Think about it, a simple nudge against a domino can set off an enormous chain reaction. A simple nudge can change our path, help us jump the rails, and create a new path of least resistance that aims straight for our hopes and dreams. You just need to give yourself a chance to build momentum.
To change, you need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Embrace the growing pains and muster every ounce of bravery possible to make a difference. In doing so, you won’t only change your own life but might positively affect the lives of others.
Reshma Saujani started Girls Who Code to help girls feel brave in expressing their intelligence while embracing their imperfections. This action has the potential to change the future of the tech industry by empowering more women to go into computer science. No matter what your age, it isn’t too late to nudge that first domino and change the course of your life.
Interested in coaching to help you reach your goals? Contact us to get started.
Meredith Wailes is the President of Bloom Leadership, a cutting-edge platform for business growth with a focus on Whole Person Development. Meredith works with both men and women to break communication barriers and coach her clients to success, both at an executive and ground-floor level. For more information visit Meredith on LinkedIn and Twitter.