In my conversations with the most senior and seemingly confident women, fear is often cited as a reason for not going for that new job, a promotion or salary increase. Fear of rejection, fear of failure, or fear of losing are all implied as reasons for not stepping out and speaking up. But most often, fear is expressed as “not having enough” of whatever they perceive it may take to succeed or excel. Enough skill, enough experience, enough whatever…

As this wonderful picture shows, men and women think and behave differently in these circumstances! Women see development discussions as an opportunity to talk about what they’re not getting right, while men see development discussions as an opportunity to promote themselves. When it comes to applying for a job or a promotion research tells us that men are more likely to apply even when they lack a large percentage of the criteria required, while women being generally more risk averse, might have 80% of what’s required for the role, and won’t apply because in their view, “it is not enough! ”

This issue is regularly part of the coaching conversation we have with women who have transitioned back to work after maternity leave. They might well return with a change of identity and a whole new set of responsibilities and priorities, but this doesn’t mean they have lost everything they knew before they became a Mom. In fact, in our coaching conversations, I am intentional about helping them focus, not only on the strengths they have always had, but also on the immense learning and growth they experienced on becoming a parent. When I ask the question: “What have you learnt from being a mom? What have you learnt about yourself?” they are taken aback by the question. When given enough time to think about it, they are then surprised by their own answers. Here are a few that regularly come up …

– I don’t sweat the small stuff

– I have become more patient and tolerant of others.

– I have become more empathetic; I have become softer in a good way.

– I am better at delegating

– I have become more productive – I have better focus on how I use my time

We then talk about how these translate into the way she handles her day to day business operations and connections. It’s a major AHA! moment for her when she recognizes that many of these new found skills and attributes are valuable for leadership, and can be the very thing that will differentiate her from other candidates.

A good acronym for Fear is: False Evidence Appearing Real…

Next time you have an opportunity to put yourself forward for promotion, don’t question whether you have ENOUGH to offer. In most instances, we have more than ENOUGH to take that important step in the direction of our goals. It is just a case of examining the real evidence,and then having the courage to present it for consideration.

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