“I’m sorry”, “I can’t”, “I must” – lets change that inner voice


Be a Game Changer by changing your Inner Game – EMPOWERED IDENTITY

How often have you said, “I’m sorry”, “I can’t” or “I must” and felt the pressure of expectation on your shoulders. You might have felt burdened and unmotivated, confused or even angry. This is one of the biggest performance issues that hold us and our staff back but you can change your inner game and start to change the conversations with yourself that influence your beliefs and ultimately, your life.

During my Diversity Assessments and Gender Consulting, I often find that some women and men are almost held hostage by their own beliefs about themselves and the role that they think they need to fulfil in society. These beliefs do affect the way that we behave, they affect the way that we think of ourselves and this can translate into the way that we treat others, particularly our expectations of what other people should be doing. When we add traditional stereotypes to our judgements, these behaviours and beliefs can sabotage us. Sometimes you might feel like you can’t go forward and you can’t go back, you don’t know what decision to make and you feel totally worn out by ‘pushing against’ the norm, trying to get what you feel you deserve.

In speaking to hundreds of women over the last couple of years, I have found that we often fall into our gendered stereotypes even when we are actively working against them! I often hear statements that in effect, relegate the person into the very stereotype that they are trying to escape. I think that this is because we have been socialised we don’t even realise where our thoughts are coming from and this can lead to internal conflict. In our private lives this can manifest in all sorts of ways, but in our workplaces this can manifest as a lack of motivation, confusion and a degradation of performance.

I’m here to tell you that this is an organisational issue, not just a personal issue.

I believe that we won’t truly see greater women’s participation in leadership until we start to work on our inner game. For example, many of the young intelligent women that I speak to, tell me things like, “I have to take time off to have a baby”, or “My kids”, or “I have to”, or “I can’t”. They sometimes feel burdened and concerned about their job and how they will be perceived by others if they return, or if they don’t return to work. Its like you can’t win either way. When I talk to them about having a baby and how their organisation might support them, I ask them why they think they must take the time off and not their husband or partner. I point out that in actuality, they could have the baby and return to work almost immediately. They look at me strangely because they believe without a doubt that the child rearing, and particularly the early child rearing is their job. They must take the full burden of it, and to consider anything else is unheard of. If we are being perfectly fair, the child’s father could take over virtually straight away. Many new mothers don’t breast feed, so you could argue that it is only the time to recover from the birth that needs to be taken into account. Of course most mothers want to stay at home, and their are lots of studies that suggest that this is the best course of action, but in what paradigm is that? Don’t you wonder what lens and value system was in place when these studies were done, and what was the level of choice of those women at the time? Did they feel that they could really be honest and say that their career was really important or did they feel the enormous pressure of motherhood to be perfect and happy with this new life? How much of this pressure was self imposed?

We can challenge how we think about ourselves and reconsider our beliefs about ourselves, but in order to do this we need to look at our identity, what it means to us and how it is reflected by and affected by society and other people.

What might you achieve if you challenged the established norms of society? Check out our latest Working Session, “Be a Game Changer by changing your Inner Game – EMPOWERED IDENTITY”

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