Get rid of the labels holding you back
“You don’t know what you don’t know” resonates with me particularly because it has taught me so much about how I was able to be a successful corporate leader and fulfilled certified executive coach later in life. Indeed, I was born in an environment where labels were truly limited which made me immune to self limitation. I was raised in a family where women were all single Mom for 2 generations. I grew up thinking everything was possible for me. Of course I lacked a father figure early in my life meanwhile I never was exposed to gender or ethnic difference. My Mom is white French- American and my Dad black Caribbean- French.
As a result of I approached my career differently than my friends. I worked as hard as others with passion and asked for what I wanted and was earning more than my female counterparts with degrees. Many questioned how I was able to simply knock to my boss door and ask for a raise. How could I dare doing that? My female friends thought I was taking to much of risks with my career and that I was simply lucky.
I understood later on that I never carried the labels of being a woman nor the one if being a minority. I discovered this when I moved to the US and was required to check boxes about my gender and ethnicity. My mindset was not altered by the limitations it imply.
Today I will share with you wisdom from the women I successfully coached to Be who they are wherever they are and got rid of the labels.
Preparing the soil
Let’s get started by exploring what are the limitations implied in being a woman in our current society.
I regularly hear from my clients that women have less opportunities than men in corporations. Also they earn much less than they male peers. What are the beliefs tied to this label you currently carry with you? How much does it impact your self confidence and ability to be in charge of your life and career?
Believing those stories that might have been true or still be practice in the workplace us some disempowering, this ultimately alter your assertiveness, don’t you agree?
Get a piece of paper and list any belief related to your female or minority label.
How does it feel to look at all those thoughts about yourself and other women?
What does come to mind?
Fertilizing the ground
The next step is to become completely honest with yourself. We will use for each thought a process developed by Byron Katie to challenge our current mindset and thought process so we can move away from the self limitation of labels.
For each statement, take a minute to ask the following questions
1- Is this true?
2- Can you absolutely know it is true?
3- How do you react when you believe that thought?
4- Who would you be without that thought?
This process is powerful because it actually gives your power back. When the thought does not exist, the limitations dissipate and create space to expand yourself beyond what you thought was possible. How cool is that??
Planting the Seeds of change
Since your thoughts shape your mindset and enable or limit your potential, what makes you still hold on labels?
I would like for you to try an experiment for a few days to experience a possible shift. Prior to start, commit yourself to integrity and honesty while engaging in the experience. Remember that I am not here to convince you but to provide you the tools to empower yourself and others. Go back to your list and simply turn them around, then tie to each of them a new feeling it this thought was to be true. For the next week or so look at those new thougths and emotions and believe them to be true to see how your circumstances change and what opportunities you can create for yourself.
So for example if you believe firmly that women are not rewarded as they should, hold the thought for a few days that women are rewarded as they should and observe what changes in your behavior, compare your level of stress, explore your approach to your job, your relationship with your management…
Watering the plant
Take notes, become aware of your thought process. Notice any resistance and breakthrough.
Engage in conversation on this particular label topic and see how others connect with the approach or not. How does it impact you?
Pruning the leaves
Labels are hard core societal structure and it can feel lonely at times to not carry/ claiming one. Meanwhile it creates the space to meet your new tribe.