Daily Archives: August 19, 2013

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10 Rules for Brilliant Women

I was looking through my Facebook feed the other day, and I came across a posting on a friend’s page, “10 Rules for Brilliant Women.”  Ok, so I thought, I know lots of brilliant women… I think I’m pretty brilliant myself… I’m tired of the dating rules, so what can this teach me.  And yeah, I’m into reading inspirational stuff to get me through the day. (a little TMI there)

Well, this did not disappoint and felt I needed to share beyond my Facebook page.

I went to the author’s “about” page and read the following:

“Most brilliant women don’t see their own brilliance and are “playing small” and they know it: not speaking up, doubting themselves, seeing themselves as “not yet ready” to launch the big idea, the organization, to put themselves at the table. The 10 Rules, and the other work I do with women leaders are about learning how to quiet self-doubt, clarify purpose, and become comfortable with taking bold action in the workplace and in the world. That is what I teach, and I love to teach it because I’m still learning it myself.”

This really struck me, because often times, believe it or not, I often doubt myself and feel hesitant to speak up.  Or, if I do, I often get the vibe of, “here she goes again”.

When I read these 10 rules, number 10 struck me the most. I don’t think women pat other women on the back enough, or say good job, or I’d like to learn from you.  It could be me, and where I am in my life at the moment, but I often feel that women feel they are in competition with one another, or become critical of another woman if her style doesn’t jive with the other woman’s leadership style.  I think this lack of support among fellow sisters can also lead women to feel a bit hung up on striking the right balance of being cautious of others’ feelings and assertive in her decisionmaking and presentation.

While I feel like I just fell into my own trap, I would just like to take this blog space to advocate for random acts of sisterhood.  When you come out of a meeting and a female colleague made a good point, let her know.  If you serve on a board, and a female colleague rocked the organizing of an event, let her know.  If your mom made you awesome blueberry pancakes for breakfast, let her know.  If you’re walking down the street, and you see a new mom struggling to keep it all together, let her know she’s amazing.  If you have been working toward a goal and meet it, take some time to do your “hells yeah, I’m pretty fabulous” dance.  It’s a movement that can start with you.

How do you think women can show other women their brilliance?  How do you think women can show other women their support?  Which one of these 10 rules strikes you??

y Tara Sophia Mohr

I coach brilliant women, lots of them. Dedicated, talented, brilliant women.

Most of the time, they don’t know their brilliance. They are certain they “aren’t ready” to take on that next bigger role. They are more attuned to the ways they aren’t qualified than to the ways that they are. They are waiting for someone to validate, promote or discover them. Sound familiar?

It’s time to step up, brilliant women. Here are ten principles for owning your brilliance and bringing it to the world:

1–Make a pact. No one else is going to build the life you want for you. No one else will even be able to completely understand it. The most amazing souls will show up to cheer you on along the way, but this is your game. Make a pact to be in it with yourself for the long haul, as your own supportive friend at every step along the way.

2–Imagine it. What does a knock-the-ball-out-of-the-park life look like for you? What is the career that seems so incredible you think it’s almost criminal to have it? What is the dream you don’t allow yourself to even consider because it seems too unrealistic, frivolous, or insane? Start envisioning it. That’s the beginning of having it.

3–Gasp. Start doing things that make you gasp and get the adrenalin flowing. Ask yourself, “What’s the gasp-level action here?” Your fears and a tough inner critic will chatter in your head. That’s normal, and just fine. When you hear that repetitive, irrational, mean inner critic, name it for what it is, and remember, it’s just a fearful liar, trying to protect you from any real or seeming risks. Go for the gasps and learn how false your inner critic’s narrative really is, and how conquerable your fears.

4–Get a thick skin. If you take risks, sometimes you’ll get a standing ovation, and sometimes, people will throw tomatoes. Can you think of any leader or innovator whom you admire who doesn’t have enthusiastic fans and harsh critics? Get used to wins and losses, praise and pans, getting a call back and being ignored. Work on letting go of needing to be liked and needing to be universally known as “a nice person.”

5–Be an arrogant idiot. Of course I know you won’t, because you never could. But please, just be a little more of an arrogant idiot. You know those guys around the office who share their opinions without thinking, who rally everyone around their big, (often unformed) ideas? Be more like them. Even if just a bit. You can afford to move a few inches in that direction.

6–Question the voice that says “I’m not ready yet.” I know, I know. Because you are so brilliant and have such high standards, you see every way that you could be more qualified. You notice every part of your idea that is not perfected yet. While you are waiting to be ready, gathering more experience, sitting on your ideas, our friends referenced in rule five are being anointed industry visionaries, getting raises, and seeing their ideas come to life in the world. They are no more ready than you, and perhaps less. Jump in the sandbox now, and start playing full out. Find out just how ready you are.

7–Don’t wait for your Oscar. Don’t wait to be praised, anointed, or validated. Don’t wait for someone to give you permission to lead. Don’t wait for someone to invite you to share your voice. No one is going to discover you. (Well, actually, they will, but paradoxically, only after you’ve started boldly and consistently stepping into leadership, sharing your voice, and doing things that scare the hell out of you.)

8–Filter advice. Most brilliant women are humble and open to guidance. We want to gather feedback and advice. Fine, but recognize that some people won’t understand what you are up to (often because you are saying something new and ahead of your time). Some people will find you to be not their cup of tea. Some will feel threatened. Some people will want to do with your idea only what is interesting or helpful to them. So interpret feedback carefully. Test advice and evaluate the results, rather than following it wholesale.

9–Recover and restore. If you start doing the things that make you gasp, doing what you don’t quite feel ready to do, and being more of an arrogant idiot, you are going to be stretching out of our comfort zone–a lot. Regularly do things that feel safe, cozy, and restorative. Vent to friends when you need to. Acknowledge the steps you’ve taken. Watch your tank to see how much risk-taking juice you have available to you. When it’s running low, stop, recover and restore.

10–Let other women know they are brilliant. Let them know what kind of brilliance you see, and why it’s so special. Call them into greater leadership and action. Let them know that they are ready. Watch out for that subtle, probably unconscious thought, “because I had to struggle and suffer on my way up…they should have to too.” Watch out for thinking this will “take” too much time — when the truth is it always has huge, often unexpected returns.

Clear a path by walking it, boldly.

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