She sat across the table, looking like the savvy businesswoman she was.
As we chatted over kale salads, she told me how her company, not yet two years old, was growing exponentially.
Then she lowered her voice and leaned in close. “There’s something I need to talk about. I’ve never shared this with anyone.”
“What is it?” I asked, also leaning forward. I could tell this was difficult for her.
“I’m afraid of success. I can already see little ways I’m holding myself back.”
When I asked what scared her, she replied, “I’m afraid people won’t like me. I’m afraid people will want more of me than I can give them. I’m scared it will all be too much.”
“You’re not afraid of success,” I responded. “You’re afraid of power. There’s a distinct difference.”
This conversation reveals a critical distinction that more women need to understand. Success is the outcome we desire to achieve. Power is what it takes to create this outcome.
Success is the fun part, the cherry on the chocolate sundae, the celebratory flute of fine champagne.
But doing what we need to do to get there, that scares us silly. Almost every successful woman I’ve ever interviewed confessed to a “little girl inside me who wants to be liked.”
Power, however, requires rocking the boat. Power demands that we speak our truth, set strong boundaries, make tough decisions that may negatively impact others.
That’s really what women truly fear—not success itself, but ‘making’ people mad or unhappy.
Once we understand this difference, all that’s necessary is a shift in our thinking. And the shift sounds like this: In the world of work, I’d rather be respected than liked.”
The recognition that earning respect is more important than garnering approval is what allows us, as women, to be powerful without diluting our innate strength or watering down our dreams.
As I conveyed my thoughts to my friend, she nodded her head knowingly. Then I raised my wine glass as she lifted hers. “To your success,” I toasted.
“To our power,” she smiled.
How do you make yourself small to hide from your power? Leave me a comment below.
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