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2-Part Ambition Journal Exercise
If you answered "Yes" more than, well, once--don't worry! YOU'RE NOT ALONE. In fact, you're in good company! As women, we ALL periodically sell ourselves short and hold ourselves back without even realizing we're doing it. Or if we catch ourselves doing it, we beat ourselves up for putting ourselves down! Including telling ourselves that every other woman has it together and couldn't possibly be sharing these same feelings.
But we all do periodically share these same feelings, fears, and doubts.
Ambition isn’t a dirty word, but as far as many women are concerned, it might as well be. And here's the surprising thing: It doesn’t matter where we grew up, went to school, or go to work.
I grew up in Arkansas, did my undergraduate degree in Tulsa, Oklahoma, went to grad school in Berkeley, and later raised a child for a decade as a single, divorced mom in the San Francisco Bay Area. When I arrived in California, I figured for sure that the same socially sanctioned self-sabotaging ambition issues I’d first recognized in myself and learned to tackle with the help of wonderful mentors wouldn’t be an issue for professional women in the Bay Area, but they were. That realization—along with having been supported and inspired by my year-long participation as a protégée in a fabulous women's mentoring group—prompted me found the Women's Business Alliance, an organization that has served as a motivational think tank for 3,500 women over fifteen years. Through working with so many women, I began to spot common ways that we hold ourselves back, often without without realizing it. And I recognized that the contribution I was born to make was to understand and shed light on how and why we do this to ourselves—and more importantly, to offer practical, nuts-and-bolts advice and support about how we women can stop selling ourselves short.
Fifteen years after migrating to the West Coast, I remarried and relocated part-time to New York. I figured for SURE those issues I'd helped thousands of ambitious women in other parts of the country spot and conquer—certainly those would not be an issue for women in New York, the world’s capital. Boy was I wrong. Same pressures, opposite coast. Each and every ambitious woman I’ve worked with and interviewed in New York City—and there have now been hundreds—are just like the rest of us.
Honestly, no matter where we live, no matter if we have an Ivy League pedigree and a professional track record to die for, we all struggle, under social duress, to stay true to our big career dreams without feeling like freaks, or that we'll repel a mate, or that we're going to mess up our children, or that we're secretly a fraud.
It’s the same whether we’re in our twenties and new to our careers, or in our fifties and sixties and among the most highly-regarded professionals in our industries. Today, the greatest barrier to earning more money, getting the power and recognition we've worked hard for and deserve, and feeling entitled to stay the course comes from inside of ourselves. We agonize over whether or not we deserve to be ambitious—and about what it will cost us.
Here’s what I know to be true.
First, you give a woman support for being ambitious. You encourage her to see that she can have a great, happy life—at home AND at work. And you show her that, counterintuitive though our culture makes it seem, the real life course for becoming the happiest woman, the best friend, lover, spouse, mother and community member she can possibly be is to always honor her ambition as a virtue. You support her to see that the real way to make the contribution she was born to make is to place her inspiring career dreams at the top of her priorities list, not at the bottom of the pile.
Next you give her powerful professional information and business strategies that are easy to use in her day-to-day work and personal life. You show her simple, effective, powerful tactics that build on each other and that empower her to hit her career targets.
Then a light bulb goes off in her consciousness. And she never looks back.
She takes charge of her professional destiny. She learns to firmly insist on getting paid what she’s worth. She feels powerful in a new way—and owning it feels comfortable to her. She learns to feel great about being recognized for her professional accomplishments. She learns to set boundaries with colleagues and people in her personal life so that her needs get met, not trampled on. She learns that she can act with professional integrity and treat others like human beings, but that she feels just fine about the fact that not everyone is going to like her when she stands up to those who would steal her thunder.
She becomes happily and unapologetically ambitious.
I’ve seen this transformation occur with thousands of women I’ve worked with. I’m here to support that same shift in you. I’m going to show you how to be your most ambitious self—and how be her right now.
In my book, Ambition Is Not A Dirty Word, plus in my Free Weekly "Break It Down, Debra! Updates on Ambition + Life," as well as in my blog posts, I’ll work with you to help you get a handle on the overt messages we have been taught about being ambitious women, the covert messages that have filtered in unconsciously, and the self-sabotaging behaviors they cause.
Take more of my self-assessment quizzes, checklists, and exercises so you can quickly and easily assess if you’re prone to selling yourself short where your ambitious goals are concerned.
I offer proven, fresh solutions—the same ones I use with my coaching clients—to help you overcome these internalized barriers. By the way: none of these strategies will ask you simply to think more like a man. My solutions will help you draw effective boundaries around your positive qualities so they won’t work against you. Once you learn to do this, you’ll be free. You can dare to be truly great on your own terms. You’ll be able to redefine the meaning of ambition and embrace the value of unleashing your sacrosanct career dreams on your own terms.
You owe it to yourself, to your children, to your local community—and the world—to make the contribution you were born to make.
I'm here to support you in that endeavor so that you can be the happiest most fulfilled individual you can be—at work AND at home.
Please feel free to email your burning questions to me at: Debra@AmbitionIsNotADirtyWord.com. I will do my best to answer all of your questions in my weekly "Break It Down, Debra!" Updates on Ambition + Life email newsletter. I want to write about what matters to you, so I very much look forward to your thoughts and feedback. Please invite your colleagues, girlfriends, sisters, daughter, nieces, and other women in your life to sign up for "Break It Down, Debra!" at www.AmbitionIsNotADirtyWord.com. Let's keep the conversation flowing!
I also invite you to read my book and spread the word with your Sisters. Let's link arms and reclaim our ambition as a virtue, not a dirty word!
Sincerely and ambitiously,
455 Central Park West, Suite 22-C
New York, NY 10025
212.749.1988 New York
415.454.1234 San Francisco