I have two impressive clients, one a lawyer and one a doctor. They are highly accomplished in their fields.
On the same day, each separately asked me the same question at one point during the session:
“Am I doing the girl thing?”
And I knew exactly what they meant. But, being a coach, my job is to ask more than answer and so I asked what they meant. Here’s what they said, more or less:
“You know, that thing where I have an idea, then totally kill it, or think that what I’m offering isn’t good enough, even though it’s more than enough. Or when I have success in something after working hard, then put myself down. You know, the girl thing.”
I do know. The girl thing.
In fact, yesterday I was sharing this very story with a friend. She just received a big promotion at work, and closed a new deal faster than any one ever has in the history of the 30-year company.
Then, she explained away her success as luck, not really a big deal, a long time coming, etc. As soon as she did it she realized, “Oh my god! I just did the girl thing!”
Yup. So I asked her what she could say instead. She came up with:
“Thank you! It’s a great client — I’m excited to start working with them.”
But the unspoken “girl thing” that too many of us understand is no longer working for me. And, as the mother of a daughter, it’s really not working for me. I want the same opportunities and possibilities for all my children, no matter the gender. Not 79 cents on the dollar for my “less valuable” daughter. I don’t want to see the world teach limitations into her core, as it has for me and my clients.
I want my 2-year-old daughter, who is pretty badass already, to not recognize “doing the girl thing” as what my doctor, lawyer, and business friend and I recognize too easily. Putting yourself down. Making excuses for your success. Apologizing for your creative ideas. Hearing yourself “you can’t” before you say “I can”.
Let’s redefine what “doing the girl thing” means. What if doing the girl thing meant that girls:
Celebrate, like Brandi Chastain
Lead, like Golda Meir
Act, like Margaret Thatcher
Help others, like Ina May Gaskin
Are Brave, like Malala
Are Strong, like the Williams Sisters
Create Justice, like Ruth Bader Ginsberg
Do What’s Right, like Eleanor Roosevelt
Blaze A New Path, like Hillary Clinton
Are Entrepreneurial, like Martha Stewart
Guide Others, like Harriet Tubman
Stands up for Your Rights, like Susan B Anthony
Care for Animals, like Jane Goodall
Teach, like Julia Child
Manage Money, like Janet Yellen
Rock, like Joan Jett
While writing this post, I got a call from a client who set a lofty goal for herself 3 months ago. Today, the dream became reality. She called to tell me about the interview that lead to the offer, and started by saying: “I’m not going to lie, and I hope this doesn’t appear arrogant, but I did a GREAT job. I knew I had it and I did. I could tell during our conversation. I just nailed it.”
When I asked her what she did in the interview that was so special, she said, “You know what? I just said what I believed and I acted like myself. I was totally honest. And it worked!”
That’s the 2016 version of doing the girl thing. Just finding that thing you’re great at and doing it. Being honestly and authentically you.