A few months ago I was honoured to be a guest speaker at a digital marketing course. After I went through my workshop session the participants of the class asked me questions. They wanted to know about the work I was doing in the industry, and about the company I had built.
I answered the questions without a second thought, sharing what I could about my journey and the work my company does in the hopes of helping them find their spot in the industry.
Halfway through my question period an instructor for the class interrupted me, and it is her comment that has had me deep in thought for the last 2 months.
She asked if I had a business partner, to which I replied “No. It is just me, although I do have subcontractors to help deliver the work”.
I thought it was a strange question, so I asked why?
She told me that in all my answers, I replied “we”. As in “we have grown”, or “we do this” or even “we can help you”. It was never, “I have grown” or “I do this” or “I can help you”.
Initially I said that I use the “we” because I work with a team of people, all who help deliver the results of the work we do. That I felt they deserved some credit for our success. (see, I just did it again. MY SUCCESS)
But, while that it true, it isn’t the “TRUTH”.
Yes, I do rely on my subcontractors to deliver work, but based off the strategy I provide, with the clients I confirm and using platforms I have created, sourced and purchased. The work under MY company, my brand and my name. A company I built up over the last 3.5 years by taking risks and investing myself in it’s success.
I am still not 100% sure why it is so difficult for me, or many other women, to claim our success. To own it, and be proud of it and take credit for things we have built. I’m not sure why it is so very uncomfortable for me to say that through hard work and strategy I built a business that is successful.
Perhaps it is that as little girls we are taught to be modest? Or maybe it is that over the 25 years I have been “working” I have experienced jealousy and anger from others any time a success of mine has been recognized? Maybe I, or we as women, feel safer hiding behind a concept of success as a community, in the hopes it will protect us from directed and negative attention?
Whatever the reason, now that it has been pointed out to me I can’t seem to shake it. My thoughts frequently turn to WHY I do this, and trying to deal with my objection to claiming my own success.
Fear of success, or fear of the acknowledgement of success? Or maybe fear of the repercussions of success? I’m not sure… I just know that there IS fear of SOMETHING there that is causing me to not lay claim to what I have built.
All I know is that it needs to change, not just for me but for all of us. Claiming our success is our right, and being able to represent the strength and success of women, working from tiny offices at home should be celebrated. Recognizing creativity, strategy, courage and professionalism is something we need to do more of… but first we need to recognize it in ourselves.
So the next time we talk, if I use “WE” can you please correct me? Help me lay claim to what I have created.. work with me to confidently walk into this role that I have already made for myself… even though my steps are tentative.