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To Earn More, Learn to Toughen Up (Without Hardening Your Heart)

By nature, we women tend to be pleasers. We want everyone to like us.

High earners are no different. Almost every six-and seven-figure woman I’ve interviewed confessed to a “little girl inside me who wants to be liked.”

But financial success requires us to make difficult, even painful decisions that often have negative consequences for others—like firing folks you like, holding tight in tense negotiations, enforcing an unpopular policy, dismissing high paying but difficult clients, enduring multiple rejections and disappointments.

So many women I interviewed regretted not making those tough decisions sooner. As one told me: “I kept trying to be nice. Eventually I had to toughen up.”

Toughening up doesn’t mean you have to harden your heart, numb your senses, or act all macho.

Toughening up does require a dramatic shift in mindset, which sounds like this: I’d rather be respected than liked.

The recognition that earning respect is more important than gaining approval was what many called “a watershed moment.”

It’s what allows us, as women, to be forthright without being unfeeling, to develop a “rhinoceros hide” while keeping an open heart and to become confident leaders without compromising our femininity.

The real benefit of toughening up goes far beyond finances. You’ll be surprised at how powerful you’ll feel when you stand firm and speak frankly.

Admittedly, toughening up is…well…really tough. But I noticed that many high earners I interviewed leaned on what I call their ‘Love Nest.’

A Love Nest is comprised of family, friends, anyone who provides a safe place where you can be a scared little girl who wants to be liked, and they’ll listen empathetically, encourage you wholeheartedly, and accept you unconditionally.

I highly recommend you find yours. Try this. List the names of people in your life who you can be totally yourself with. When you’re feeling vulnerable, scared, insecure, contact someone on this list to tell you how terrific you are.

Trust me. It’ll make a huge difference.

I’d love to hear about a situation you’re facing (or have faced) where you need to toughen up. What helped (or hindered) you? Leave me a comment below.

Comments & Feedback

  • Carmen

    Thanks for this! I cancelled working for free for a famous sales man during his live event since this would cause me accumulating debts at this very moment. Travel costs and hotel for two days, even working 2 days for free only for the unconfirmed perspective that I might be able to ask him a question at the end of the event is something I am no longer willing to do. Hard lesson that wants to learned: “Why do you always have to look for a man´s advice to consider yourself as valuable enough to make money?” Even if he is a millionaire – it would cause you debting. So stop it!

    • barbara huson

      Carmen, I’m giving you a standing ovation for taking your power back. So well done!!!! And such a very wise decision. I hope you’re feeling proud of yourself. I’m proud of you!

  • Sophie

    I have read this many times before in your books AND yesterday when I read it in your email newsletter, it just clicked! Oh YES! I´d much rather be respected then liked anytime.
    I just had to make a decision to not sign up for a program and tell him thanks, but no thanks.
    I did and it felt bad for a short while until I came back to my senses. 🙂
    Thank you!

    • barbara huson

      Sophie, I’m so glad you came to your senses and that you took the time to write, letting me know you finally got it!! Sometimes things take a bit of time to sink in. But you made a very wise and powerful decision. Awesome!

  • Lisa

    Such a brilliant article, Barbara!

    You don’t want your “love nest” to become your work colleagues. The workplace isn’t really a place to show full vulnerability or authenticity and it’s a revolving door these days.

    I have a lunch with my agent next week. I want more money, so I don’t want him to know that I enjoy the job too much.

    • barbara huson

      Thanks for this, Lisa. You make a good point. I’d love to know what happens with your agent after your lunch. Keep me posted!

  • Tammy Drummer

    Thanks for this, it helps to strengten mmy believe in myself.

    Margriet Rensch

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Meet Barbara Huson

When a devastating financial crisis rocked her world, Barbara Huson knew she had to get smart about money… and she did. Now, she wants to empower every women to take charge of their money and take charge of their lives! She’s doing just that with her best-selling books, life changing retreats and private financial coaching.

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