Tag Archive for workplace success

Self-Discipline for Success

Discipline is the ability to make yourself do something you don’t want to do, in order to get a result that you really want to get.

Andy Andrews

Even as I write this, I can feel the urge to postpone it until later. When I think about self-discipline, I must smile. My journey to self-discipline has been lifelong. I grew up in a family where there were no expectations of me. I didn’t have to do anything, not make my bed, not wash the dishes, not take out the trash. Not a particularly good environment for learning self-discipline. I developed no self-discipline muscle. My discipline and work ethic were strongly influenced by the role model set by my husband, who has an incredible work ethic and self-discipline. It has been a lifelong challenge to develop and maintain self-discipline. My definition of self-discipline is doing what is necessary when you don’t want to or when you don’t feel motivated. In fact, if you wait to feel motivated the action may never come!

When I became an entrepreneur and started my business, it was essential that I develop self-discipline, as I no longer had a boss. There was no one to monitor what I did. The only demands were the ever-present deadlines for sending proposals, creating programs, and presentations. Self-discipline is critical for every aspect of one’s life! Self-discipline is necessary to succeed in your career, to eat healthy, to exercise consistently, to keep organized, to be a responsible parent (human and pet) etc.

I worry about children raised today, especially those with helicopter parents. When a child has all their actions monitored, they never learn to create their own self-discipline. If mom and dad are responsible for you sitting down and doing your homework, what’s going to happen when you go off to college? Flunking out of school is a difficult result of no self-discipline, one that has ramifications far into the future.

Sometimes we need to be reminded of the “carrot” when it comes to developing self-discipline because it’s darn hard! Here are some “carrots”:

  • People who have strong self-discipline are people that reach their goals. It’s so much easier to stay focused on your goals when you are performing the actions necessary. There is no doubt that when you reach your goals it can make you a happier person. One goal reached, leads to multiple goals reached. Discipline is the antidote to procrastination.  I’m not saying there will not be setbacks and failures but when you have stayed the course that gives you time to shift when necessary. 
  • People with self-discipline consistently have higher self-esteem. When you do what you say you’re going to do, you are likely to be proud of yourself. When you see yourself as a person who has good habits and character, the result is a stronger sense of self. When I do my Fast Five (five-minute review of the day), and my discipline has been in gear, I hear myself saying aloud “Way to go!”  This pops up for my clients, too.  They are eager to share that they have been on task and succeeded.  They love hearing me exclaim, “Way to go” for them.  It’s fantastic to celebrate these wins with them.  When someone else knows how challenging your successes have been, it makes it even sweeter to celebrate together!
  • You will find your energy level soaring as you develop more self-discipline. It is incredibly energy sapping to constantly be thinking about what needs to be done and not do it. Often you put more energy into the worry and concern about it than it would take to just get it done. When you do what is in your plan, it can free you for time for yourself and that’s a great payoff. If I am not doing what I know I need to, I hear the loop in my head all day long admonishing myself to do it that’s exhausting.
  • Finally, life looks better on the other side. Small sacrifices now lead to better outcomes in the future. I think about everyone I know who has ever authored a book. Sitting down at their keyboard chapter by chapter has ultimately created a book. That book is a fantastic ticket to credibility and Guru status in your industry. Plus, it can be a huge revenue generator. Having written four books, I assure you it has taken tremendous self-discipline for me and everyone else I know.  This applies to all your career goals. For example, with clients who are looking for that next great position, it means redoing their resume. Discipline allows for the time to reformat, tweak, and polish their resume. It’s unsettling to see a job posting and know your resume is not the best it could be.   

Wow, discipline has a ton of benefits, right? If there is such a huge payoff, why don’t you do it? Well, it’s just darn hard but if you want to start strengthening your self-discipline muscles, read Kay’s corner on how to get rolling on this important skill.

If you are painfully aware that self-discipline is a roadblock in your career success, don’t despair. It is possible to create this behavior no matter what stage of life you are in. If you would like assistance in creating the self-discipline you need, email Kay@highheeledsuccess.com or call (513) 561-4288 and we can set up a complementary 45-minute phone conversation to see if my coaching could be valuable for you.

Catapulting Your Career Dreams

In 1996 my speaking colleague, Lori Kleiner Eckert, published the book, With This Ring.  Excerpted from the forward of her book: “Upon her grandmother’s death, Lorie inherited her grandfather’s ring.  Recently, separated herself, she slipped her grandfather’s ring on and slipped off her own wedding band.  Feeling that some sort of vows were appropriate, she decided to make vows to herself — to become a quilt lecturer and teacher, to trust her inner voice, and to love herself.”  This is the dream Lorie pursued.  The beautiful book is filled with photographs of her quilts, that include powerful and inspirational words.  My personal favorite is the one you see to the left with the words, “If Not Now, When?”  This picture lives on my desk, in my car, on my desktop, in my journal, etc.  These were words that rang in my head often, in the month of July, when I landed in the hospital quite ill.  Many of the followers of this newsletter know about my bizarre bout with being sicker than I have ever been in my life.  This experience gave me a lot of time for reflection and a perspective shift.  My thoughts shifted to career dreams that have been conceived but not come to fruition.  I know I am not alone in dreams deferred.  This newsletter is dedicated to YOU my clients, followers, friends, and colleagues.  If not now, when?

There are soooooo many things that may cause you to put off career/business dreams:  fear of failure, fear of success, perfectionism, money, time, life stage, lack of clarity, opinions of others, etc.  My hospital stint reminded me of the fragility of life and that no more days are promised.  My dear readers, if not now, when?  Let’s take a leap into moving your career dreams into reality! 

Let’s focus on the obstacles before we move to my four-step process of getting these dreams out of your head and into reality.  Some of your obstacles are quite real.  Let’s say you are currently in a job that is not using your talents and strengths to the fullest, but you have a side hustle that you love.  You have a dream to expand your side hustle into a full-time business.  Money may be a significant stumbling block for you.  There is no doubt, there is gender disparity when it comes to lending.  Data from the annual Federal Reserve Banks “Small Business Credit Survey” shows that women-owned businesses apply for financing at similar rates to businesses owned by men, but women-owned businesses, on average, seek out smaller amounts. They also are less likely to receive the full amount they sought (43% vs. 48% of men).  Women still have a long way to go to gender equality in the lending market.  The Biz2Credit research found that the average size loan for women-owned businesses was 31% less than for male-owned businesses ($70,239) in 2018.  There may be several legitimate challenges to your dreams, that doesn’t mean they are insurmountable.  The dream starts the process but the action brings it into reality.  This process below will help you get that ball rolling.  You don’t want to suffer the regret of unfulfilled dreams.

Here are the four steps I use with my clients, let’s explore each:

  • Dream
  • Decide
  • Dedicate
  • Do

Dream:  There are plenty of people in your circle more than available to squash your dreams.  Some of those Debbie Downers are well-intentioned, trying to keep you from pain and failure.  Often these people are closest to you – parents, spouses, siblings, closest friends.  Listen and sift.  Perhaps in their warning framework they have some valid concerns.  There are also people who have never allowed themselves to dream and can’t conceive of going for it.  Unfortunately, there are people likely in your circle that want to keep you right where you are.  Your very success may be threatening to them.  Learn what you can from these people but stay focused on the dream.  You know your needs, talents, and strengths best.  You know if these unfulfilled dreams will be soul-crushers for you.

Decide:  This quote from author, motivational speaker and business strategist Tony Robbins is powerful.  “It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.”  You may plug along dreaming for years and suddenly something shifts, and you finally decide.  From my perspective this is the most powerful component in this four-step process.  After you decide, there is a weight that lifts, the conundrum is gone, and you often move forward with a rapid pace.  Honestly, sometimes external experiences help you decide.  I currently have a client who had been passed over multiple times for a promotion and raise.  She is skilled, hardworking, and dedicated!  After hearing of another person’s promotion, that she saw as less deserving, she decided THAT day to seek out a career counselor.  She spoke with a friend who she knew had used a career counselor and asked to be connected.  Obviously, the counselor was me.  Within three months, she had taken dramatic steps to be more visible and valuable to her upper management and received a promotion.  Decide and dramatic things happen.

Dedicate:  Dreams take dedication.  Sugar coating the dedication process is unfair to you.  Perseverance is key.  Your dedication may mean some sacrifice of time, money, leisure time, etc.  When you want to quit because it’s hard, having someone to encourage you along the way is essential.  Often my clients say next to the skill sets they learn with me, my belief in them is one of the things they value most.  You likely will remember someone in your life that kept you persevering when you were ready to give up.  We all need those people who believe in us when we have faltered.

Do:  Another favorite quote of mine, from author Joel Arthur Barker, focuses on the doing.  “Vision without action is merely a dream.  Action without vision just passes the time.  Vision with action can change the world.”  You DO have to take action on your dreams.  You must have an action plan, otherwise you will be overwhelmed, scattered, stuck.  Action plans are an important part of career maximizing with my clients.  Do you need an additional credential, do you need to know more about what it takes to succeed with your dream job, do you need to bolster your LinkedIn Profile?  Without a clear action plan, your dream may only stay a dream. 

There you have it, my four-step process for guiding clients into their dream job.  There is so much more to do, but this information will get you started.  Are you convinced you need more help?  It would be my honor to guide you in fulfilling your career dreams.  Call High-Heeled Success, LLC, (513) 561-4288 or email me Kay@highheeledsuccess.com and we will get the dream machine into gear.

Generating Career Catapulting Ideas

There’s nothing new under the sun! Or is there? Women who excel in their careers become idea factories, churning out ideas aplenty. But sometimes it seems like there is nothing new to be had, all the great ideas have been taken. Whether you own a business, work in a corporation, or non-profit, it’s essential to continue to generate ideas and solutions. The key is to say or do it differently! Let’s take Spanx, as an example. It’s all about holding “stuff” in! In my great grandmother’s day, it was a corset. In my mother’s day, it was a girdle.  In my day, it was first control top pantyhose, and now it’s Spanx, Shapermint, or other garments designed to yank it in. Remember, it’s just a new twist on an old idea. To be a changemaker you only need to tweak, not necessarily revolutionize. The same is true for ideas and concepts. You’ve likely heard of SMART goals, standing for Specific; Measurable; Achievable; Relevant, and Time-bound. One of my keynotes, “Cracking the Code for Goal Setting,” presents other essential aspects of achieving goals, START goals.  This is a concept I use with my individual clients, too. It’s looking at how to better view goals, based on what is commonly overlooked. It’s truly how to build a better mousetrap. Just a little better, just a little different, just a little more down-to-earth. Your spin makes it YOURS! Give your idea a name, acronym, or initialism. (If you don’t know the difference, google it.) Once you have a term, it takes on newness.

Become a solution sleuth! Problems are everywhere. Even small or partial remedies can set you apart. What you don’t want to do is consistently dismiss your ideas as inconsequential and table them. Timing is important but that doesn’t equate to never! Commonly, my clients don’t give their ideas enough credit for usefulness, originality, and value. If the message in your head is a reoccurring loop of “No one will care about this,” understand that reflects how you value yourself. If you need encouragement, affirmation, or a kick in the pants, run it by someone you trust and who will be candid with you. Even if they are a naysayer, it’s your ultimate decision to make.

Another critical factor in the idea factory is ownership. In the entrepreneurial world, it may entail a copyright, a Registered Trademark, or patent. In a corporate or non-profit world, it likely means having a paper trail.  It also means starting at the top. Divulging your idea, at high ranks first, helps you “own” the idea and prevent someone else from taking credit. I hear from clients often how they casually threw out a fabulous idea at a meeting and the next thing they knew, someone else had repeated it and taken credit for it. This happens to women frequently. Consider times where you have observed a woman tossing out an idea in a meeting, getting little reaction and then a male has repeated it and received a glowing response. Just another example of the struggle for women to have a voice and be acknowledged in the workplace.

How might you get started in catapulting your career with workplace changing ideas?  Here are three foundational steps you may want to take:

  • Keep a problem log! Since problems are everywhere, this may be easy. The hard part might be deciding which problem to consider first. Then try my “NOUN SOLUTION” — what person, place, or thing could impact this problem? Looking at the problem from these different vantage points can give you quite different perspectives.
  • Talk the problem aloud. You may hear a phrase, hear a question, hear an explanation that will create an idea. That is exactly how the concept of “The Fast Five” came to be, which is a term I use with my coaching clients. I was recommending a time of reflection be taken at the end of her day with a client. She needed to capture her successes. She commented, “When I am done with my workday, I am exhausted, and I want to get the heck out of there.”  My response was, “I promise you that this can be done fast, and it doesn’t need to take more than five minutes.”  Voila, “The Fast Five” was born!
  • Perhaps you already have the idea, and now your job is to fine tune and develop an action plan. What that means is 1) Name it and 2) Create your pitch for getting the idea out there.

If you are feeling shaky about producing ideas that will catapult your career forward or how to roll them out, having a coach to hone this aspect of your career could be beneficial.

Email Kay@highheeledsuccess.com or call (513) 561-4288 and we will set up a time for a complimentary 45-minute consultation to determine if we could be a good match to address this problem. 

Understanding and Managing Career Decisions

Decisions, decisions, decisions! The need to make decisions surrounds you, at home and at work. In the November/December 2020 newsletter, I talked about making your own decisions. The challenge is to think independently and make decisions unduly influenced by others. We are going down the decision pathway again, but this time focused on other challenges of decision making. Perhaps, you are one of the fortunate individuals who do not struggle to decide or have regrets after. Woohoo for you!!! My term for you is a “stabilizer.” Keep reading, likely you have an employee who struggles, or you work with someone who struggles. If you work with those people, you can be a link to this information and assist them.  Likely, more of you fall into either the “ruminator” or “jumper” category. Ruminators struggle to make decisions, even small ones, and take an eternity to reach the decision. Jumpers make hasty decisions, without due diligence and regret many of their decisions. Where do you fall? I have clients who struggle with both ends of this spectrum.

If we boiled it down into the simplest of terms, the advice would be for the ruminators to speed it up and the jumpers to slow it down. I realize it isn’t quite that simple, however, if you need a rule of thumb, three words say so much. Speed it up! Slow it down! Your goal is to manage your behavior, so you become more “stabilizer” like.

The greatest gift I can give you is a powerful list of questions. When you ask these questions the “ruminator” tends to feel strengthened and is more confident in her decision making. The “jumper” tends to explore avenues she hasn’t in past decision-making situations. Though there are other questions you may need to ask, this is a wide-ranging list and initially stick with these. Ruminators, DO NOT ADD 20 more! Jumpers, DO NOT IGNORE half of them. Gain insight from your urge to add or subtract based upon your style. Here you go.

Key Questions for Sound Decision-Making

  • What are the pros and cons of pursuing each option? Which is most advantageous?
  • What is your “gut” saying? Which feels right?
  • Imagine you wake up tomorrow and have chosen option A. How do you feel? Imagine you wake up tomorrow and you have chosen option B. How do you feel?
  • How will this course of action affect the people around you? Your team? Your boss? Who will benefit, who will be hurt?
  • How do the key principles and priorities you live by apply here?
  • How well does this decision align with your career goals, short and long term?
  • If you have a significant other, what is their perspective? Perspective of key advisors?
  • What fears or inner drives are influencing your response?
  • What would it cost in terms of time and resources to do this? What would it cost you if you don’t do this? What’s the cost if you don’t decide or let circumstances overtake you?
  • What is the payoff for each option? What is the penalty for each option? Can you live with the worst-case outcome? What steps could you take to minimize the risk?
  • If I say yes to this, what am I saying no to?

I recently took a client, who is a ruminator, through this set of questions. When we had completed the questionnaire, she stated, “I know everything there is to know at this point. It comes down to me trusting that I can handle the situation if things don’t work out.  I can do something different down the road.”  Her mother had always said, “If you make your bed you have to lie in it.”  “Martha” now knows that is NOT TRUE! In the words of the Singer/Song Writer, Paul Simon, in the song 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover “Make a new plan, Stan!”  Er, Martha.

If you are facing some big decisions and believe you need more guidance, ongoing coaching is just what the doctor ordered.

Email Kay@highheeledsuccess.com or call (513) 561-4288 and we will set up a time for a complimentary 45-minute consultation to determine if this could be a valuable step for you.

Understanding and Transforming the Need to Please

Strains of the Rick Nelson song, Garden Party, float through my head, “You see, you can’t please everyone, so you’ve got to please yourself.”  If you are not familiar with the song, take a minute to listen, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PECmjB9df0w. Am I being overly dramatic calling this article, Death by People-Pleasing? I don’t think so! There is a death of self when your very identity hinges on whether others approve of you and like you. This people-pleasing behavior will be pervasive in both your personal and professional life. How did you get in this pickle in the first place? What was it like in your home growing up? Was there addiction? You tried your best to appease them in hopes the addictive behavior would stop. Was there intense controlling behavior, anger, rage, or another dysfunction? As children, we try to manage our environment, as best we can. We may have the illusion of believing that if we are loveable enough, good enough, or pleasing enough, we can “fix” our world. That need to have an o.k. world follows us into adulthood and into the workplace.

Oprah, very astutely calls people-pleasing behavior, “the disease to please.”  Don’t get me wrong, we all want to be liked, hope to be kind, and desire to be helpful but when you cross the line into people-pleasing there is a high price to pay. You may already know that this is an issue for you, but others may be unsure. Take this quick assessment:

Do You?

  • Struggle to say “no”
  • Overly care what others think
  • Feel guilty when not being compliant
  • Worry that others will think you are mean or selfish
  • Agree to things you don’t want to do
  • Constantly say you are sorry
  • Live for approval
  • Take undo blame
  • Have no free time
  • Neglect your own needs
  • Take on work of others to the detriment of your workload
  • Match the opinion or behavior of others when it’s not sincerely yours

Sometimes the consequences must be drilled into our head to make a change. Long standing behaviors aren’t easy to change, I get that. Here are consequences of workplace people-pleasing behavior:

  • Exhaustion
  • High stress levels
  • Constant anger
  • Lack of happiness
  • Resentment
  • No time for self
  • Being mistake prone
  • Career stalling or derailment

Author, Mel Robbins wrote, “Letting things slide to keep the peace only starts a war inside of you.”  No one want a war inside. How do you begin to change this behavior? When you have been people-pleasing for a long time, it may be hard to know what you want anymore. That’s a good place to begin. Sit down at your keyboard or a journal identifying things you want and need at work. You want more time to have your projects be excellent, more respect from your upper management or colleagues, time to attend professional development opportunities, shorter work hours, etc. Knowing what you want can motivate you to make changes. It’s really o.k. to have people not be thrilled with your choices, let them be disappointed, or surprised – you will survive. Heck, you may be surprised that their reaction is less dramatic than expected. It’s really o.k. to have a difference of opinion. It’s really o.k. to not always be agreeable. How do you morph this ingrained behavior? Boundaries will be your new watchword. Look at the tips in Kay’s Consulting Corner to start on some basic boundary setting. If your career is suffering because of people-pleasing behavior, ongoing coaching would be beneficial.

Email Kay@highheeledsuccess.com or call (513) 561-4288 and we will set up a time for a complimentary 45-minute telephone consultation.

Reaping the Benefits of Rewards

When you read the word “reward,” I am betting your mind immediately went to you rewarding employees, or rewards you might receive from your employer, or rewards you might give to a client for a referral. Did rewarding yourself jump into your brain? The perspective of rewarding yourself may be foreign to you. Maybe you grew up in a family that espoused making your bed, doing the dishes, or taking out the trash were chores you should either want to do or do because you were a member of the family.  Being rewarded for doing these things was not something your family valued. Regardless of the source, somehow you may have received the message that you do not deserve rewards, accomplishing the goal is all the reward you should need. In a utopian world, that might fly but you live in the real world in which changing habits and reaching goals can be tough! There exists a mountain of research for using rewards to reinforce positive behavior. You may long for kindergarten, where you a received a gold star for not eating paste! Rewards can be one of the most powerful gifts you give yourself and others. Today’s parents have used rewards with children very effectively and we can use them as a model for ourselves.  There are many parenting websites that focus on changing children’s behavior through rewards. The Verywell Family parenting site sums it up well:  https://www.verywellfamily.com/behaviors-that-respond-well-to-reward-systems-1094749. Adults can use the same concept. I have a client, who is a business owner, with some new sales goals for her business in 2022. The one major obstacle is getting to the paperwork she hates. That paperwork is necessary to keep the business running and to reaching those goals, but it is boring! She’s an extrovert who is excited and energized by others, being alone doing paperwork is drudgery. We have developed a reward system to get that necessary task done.

Every behavior you want to change, every new habit you want to develop, every goal that you seek can be reinforced by rewards. However, for this to work there may be beliefs you have to let go. You deserve to let go of the belief that to reward is juvenile and to reward is self-indulgent. Why fight what works? Here are components that are part of the system we have devised for her. She is not unique; I have created a similar type of system with many clients. Our first step was to identify what would feel like a reward to her. Then she identified that an hour of paperwork a day will be necessary. She plans to track that and at the end of the week she will assess how she has done. For each daily hour of paperwork, she will give herself a star. If she has five stars at the end of the week, she will go to T.J. Maxx and purchase an outfit; three stars and she’s off to purchase a desk accessory; one star earns her a new eyeliner.

Here are three components to remember when setting up a system like this:

  • The rewards must feel important to YOU! This is your plan, and you don’t have to justify it to anyone.
  • The rewards must be timely, the shorter the gap of time between the behavior and the reward the better.
  • The rewards must be consistent, skipping a reward will diminish the effect of the reinforcement.

This is something I do myself. I own a Michael Kors purse that was purchased as a reward. It is a constant reminder of reaching an important goal.

There are all sorts of challenges you have in the workplace. A toolbelt full of tools is an asset in overcoming those obstacles. Using rewards is one more tool at your disposal.

If you are facing many challenges in your career and not reaching your goals in the workplace, guidance is only a click or a phone call away.

Email Kay@highheeledsuccess.com or call (513) 561-4288 and we will set up a time for a complimentary 45-minute telephone consultation.

Breaking the Rules for Success

At my core, due to my upbringing, I am a rule follower. I can hear my mother now, “Good little girls are polite, look pretty, wait their turn.”  Can you hear your own mother, father, grandmother, schoolteacher? It’s a common lament of women, we have been taught to follow the rules. I am not proposing anarchy. Or am I? I love the quote from Katharine Hepburn, “If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.”  I was always considered a “Goody Two Shoes”! In 6th grade, we were allowed to walk home for lunch but not go anywhere else.  One day a group of kids decided to walk to a local café for lunch, strictly forbidden, and I summoned all my courage and went.  Someone ratted us out and we were to be punished. I was giddy to be part of the rebel group. However, when the time came time for the punishment, our principal didn’t put me in detention because she couldn’t believe I would be part of the insurrection. I was devastated and begged to get detention like all the rest of the gang. This shows how entrenched I was in following the rules. It has been a lifelong battle to resist this upbringing, as it can be such a career obstacle.

If you want to maximize your career, you must learn to break some rules for success. I would love to tell you I can do this blithely, but not so. I still feel some anxiety and queasiness, but I do it anyway! Sometimes I break a rule just to prove to myself that I still have it in me. Here are examples from my speaking career:

  • I always advise, in advance, how a room is to be arranged. If you ever train or speak you know that this is essential. The seating can make or break a training. When real life sets in, the seating is often wrong. When I can find staff to fix the problem, I direct them in how to make changes. Sometimes, I change it myself. When I comment on this to others, they often express concern that I haven’t asked permission. My ultimate responsibility is to assure the event is successful, if it means breaking some rules, so be it.
  • Meeting planners will sometimes request I speak on the stage and behind the lectern. That can be the kiss of death in connecting with an audience. I now will not even agree to it. In the past, there have been situations where I agreed but invaded the audience space anyway. That’s a rule I love to break.
  • Have you noticed that conference participants often spread throughout a meeting room? For energy, connection, and activities it’s important for an audience to stay together. Consequently, I direct participants where to sit. In my traveling bag, I carry caution tape. Think of the type you see at construction sites. Taping off seats that I do not want occupied is common for me. I have had people shadow me to learn speaking and training techniques. It’s not uncommon to have someone ask, “Did THEY say this is ok?”  I didn’t ask permission and don’t intend to. However, I will explain why it was necessary.

What are some of the rules that it makes sense to break?

  1.  “You must pay your dues.”  Just because you are new or young, doesn’t mean you have to wait to rise to the top or ask for the plum opportunities. Are you great at what you do? Then jump over everyone else. Might you hack people off? Yep! Might people say, “Who does she think she is?” Yep! Do it anyway. 
  2. “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”  There’s a proven way to ensure mediocrity! Shake things up, break that rule. Try new things, that’s how organizations evolve, stay ahead of the competition, and innovate.
  3. “Wait your turn.”  Most recently, I have a couple of clients that have held back on asking to go to conferences because no one in their organization was sent during the pandemic. This seemed pushy to them. Push away! All that can happen is you hear, “No.”
  4. “Newbies keep your thoughts to yourself.”  Diversity of age and tenure are smart ways companies are hiring. Organizations desperately need latest ideas, thoughts, and perspectives. Break that rule soon. You do not need to wait. In fact, when coaching women in their first professional position, I nudge them to speak up early in their career. Don’t wait until an arbitrary amount of time has passed. Make your mark from the beginning.
  5. “Work and play don’t mix.”  Men have figured out this is ludicrous! It is the essence of the “Ole Boys Club”.  Making business contacts and deals on the golf course isn’t just a story, it’s real.  Some of my best opportunities and clients have come from conversations in social settings. I recently struck up a conversation at the nail salon with the woman next to me and it looks like an article for a magazine will be the result. 

These are just a few of the rules that are worth breaking. You will think of more rules that apply to your situation. These obviously are not ethical violations or legal issues. These are perspectives, traditions, unwritten rules. Frequently, they are sexist at the foundation. If we didn’t eventually break the rules, women would still be wearing hats, gloves and dresses every day when they left their home. I think of Amelia Earhart, the stir she caused in breaking the rules of attire. She wore PANTS! She flew airplanes!  She was a rule breaker! Thank you, Amelia and all the other women who have gone before us breaking rules so we could thrive in life and in the workplace.

Are you sabotaging your career as a rule follower? It’s not your fault, you are just following the rules, LOL! If your career is being held back due to adherence to some unwritten, arbitrary set of rules, or other behaviors, there is help. Let’s talk. Did you know that High-Heeled Success offers 45-minute complimentary telephone consulting? Email Kay@highheeledsuccess.com or call 513-561-4288 to set a time to assess your situation. 

Sounding Powerful and Professional

Some of you may react to this article with a shrug of your shoulders.  You may be thinking, “As long as I do a good job and know my stuff, I will succeed.”  Though doing a good job and knowing your area of expertise is critical, how you express your knowledge can be a game changer.  Let’s face it, women have a disadvantage in the workplace.  Period.  It is in your best interest to have everything possible working for you.  That is what I strongly recommend that you start paying close attention to your language.  If you recorded yourself today, would you hear a woman who sounds assertive, confident, and powerful?  Maybe not.  In the media, I have been quoted saying, “Every time you open your mouth it’s a speaking opportunity.”  When YOU open your mouth, are your words advancing your career or undermining it?  You likely are presenting department reports, or pitching to a potential client, or speaking on a podcast. Unfortunately, you may have learned verbal habits that undercut your power in each of those situations.  They are so entrenched you don’t notice you are using them.  Sometimes you use these phrases intentionally, in an effort to be accepted, soften the blow, or seem less aggressive.  Regardless of the foundational reason, it’s still causing you to shoot yourself in your High-Heeled foot. 

There are many power-robbing phrases that I hear women use.  The focus is going to be on three in this article:  hedges, add-ons, and the indecisive “I”.  Curb your inclination to be defense about this, I am not scolding or berating you, instead guiding you.  We need every tool in our career tool belt.   

  • Eliminate hedges:  By the time you are presenting at a meeting, to a client, or are on a Podcast, you have thought things through.  You have a stance, perspective, or recommendation to make.  You see it as the right direction.  You have crunched the numbers, done research, or conferred with others.  It’s not mere opinion.   You may sound unsure, subjective, or tentative if you use hedges.  Hedging may be your attempt at reducing rejection, but it has the opposite result.  Consider these hedge statements:
    • “This may not be important, but…”
    • “I just wanted to say…”
    • “In my opinion…”
    • “This may not be right, but…”

“This may not be right, but I think shifting the marketing plan to a new target audience could be beneficial.”  No doubt you recognize how the hedge under sells your well thought out direction.  

  • Eliminate add-ons:  Add-ons, phrases added at the end of sentences, are frequently reflective of female learned behavior growing up.  Keep the peace, don’t ruffle feathers, get along!  Add-ons may be a sign of your leadership style.   If you have a more collaborative than commanding leadership style, you are apt to use these phrases.  If you are seeking collaboration, there are better verbal tools to use then add-ons.  Your add-ons may be more a sign of easing your discomfort with taking a position.  If you seek changing the marketing strategy, own it.  This is the time to be persuasive, impactful, and convincing.  You will recognize these add-ons:
    • “don’t you think?”
    • “right?”
    • “okay?”
    • “isn’t it?

“Changing the target market is aligned with the company vision, right?”  This add-on opens the door for controversy and dissent.  Your collaborative efforts, fact-finding, and alternate perspectives need to come well before you take a stance.

  • Eliminate I think and I feel:  One of the disadvantages women have had for decades is the belief by many men that women are too emotional in the workplace.  You see it in every industry, companies small and large, and in politics.  In 2019, an analysis by Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce found 1 in 8 Americans believe women are not as emotionally suited as men to serve in elected office.  This presents a significant barrier for women.  We don’t want to do anything that reinforces this bias.  Starting our sentences with the words “I think…” or “I feel…” is self-sabotaging.  You can readily see the issue.  By using this verbal habit, you are suggesting to others that this is merely an opinion, or you are speaking from an emotional response.  Sometimes we DO have an emotional response to and issue and that may need to be expressed.  But by starting every other sentence with I think, or I feel can be disastrous. 

“I feel changing the target market will be align it with the company vision.”  Are you convinced this is a valuable direction?  If you are, say so.  Surely, this is not just your gut talking.  You’ve done your homework, say so.  Followers of my articles, keynotes, workshops, and books will recognize tis quote from author and Pediatrician, Sally E. Shaywitz, MD, “To be someone, a woman doesn’t have to be more like a man, but she does have to be more of a woman.”  Women are strong and powerful, let your language reflect that strength and power.

Are you concerned that you are undercutting your career with your speaking style?  Many women face this problem, and it can be solved.  If these and other challenges are preventing you from your goals in the workplace, guidance is only a click or a phone call away.  Email Kay@highheeledsuccess.com or call (513) 561-4288 and we will set up a time for a complimentary 45-minute telephone consultation.

The Art of Making More Money

This article starts with celebration!  One of my clients just received a fantastic raise, big raise!  She is very smart, works her tail off, is an amazing leader, etc.  Yet, she has been underpaid throughout the time she has been in her current role.  There are many reasons women are underpaid in the workplace, including systemic bias and sexism.  Additionally, many women struggle with the “ask”, my client did.  It took a systematic approach to having this wonderful celebration.  Are you struggling with the “ask”, too? I get it.  One of the personal stories I tell in a keynote is about messages received in childhood regarding asking. If you had been with as an 8-year-old child on that sweltering July day, you would have seen my grandmother and me go into Niebuhr’s general store in the tiny town of Cobden, IL.  Imagine a scene right out of a movie set in the early 1900’s.  Picture the old scales to weigh produce and barrels of bulk candy.  Out of one eye I spied a bin of lemon drops, my favorite.  I was just ready to ask for some when the proprietor commented to my grandmother, “Helen, it’s so refreshing to have Kay in the store, she isn’t like other kids who demand candy from their parents the minute they walk in the door.”  My grandmother said, “You are so right, Kay is such a sweet little thing, she never asks for anything.”  Any “ask” that was in me died on that old wooden floor.  I still struggle with asking for what I want, so I get it.  However, I have made huge strides, my clients have made great strides and you can, too.  Never fear, I am going to break the process down for you.  Will this guarantee that you get a raise?  Nope!  However, I can GUARANTEE you likely will NOT receive one if you do not ask.

What keeps you from the ask?  Let’s break it down:

  • Women having traditionally been taught not to ask for much of anything!  From childhood, you may have been taught that powerful message.  Don’t ask for the last roll at dinner, don’t ask for the larger bedroom, don’t ask for a larger office, don’t ask for more money.  Asking has been equated to greed and being greedy, especially for women, is a no-no.  Heck even talking about money in many families is a no-no.  Often the lack of conversation about money causes intense conflict with family members when someone passes away.  Lack of conversations about money prior to marriage, can create problems that end in divorce.  Lack of conversations about money can create difficulties with teens headed to college.  The result may a significant discomfort with asking for more money, whether you work in a corporate job, a small business, a non-profit or you own your own business. For entrepreneurs, raising fees can bring out all the challenges listed above.  I challenge you to consider the messages you received about money growing up and are still receiving.  You must break through those messages to be paid what you are worth. 

  • For some women, another obstacle is the ongoing challenge of worth.  Many of the women I talk with struggle with their value in the workplace.  There often is a focus on what they don’t have versus their contributes to their workplace.  You may have a laundry list of what is lacking: 1) time in the role 2) an advanced degree 3) additional certifications, you get my drift.  It is essential to reframe this conversation.  Reframe the conversation around value, we will focus on this in the next bullet If you can objectively see that there are some gaps, work on remedying those.  Perhaps take an online course, write some articles for LinkedIn, join a professional organization for your field.  These actions indicate your willingness to invest in value to your company.

  • The third leg of this money stool is your approach.  This approach MUST be based on the value you are bringing. What value do you bring to the workplace?  Have you cut costs? Have you increased revenue?  Have you solved problems?  Refocus on your contributions and what you do have.  If you are unsure about what you have and are contributing, go to my website: https://www.highheeledsuccess.com.  Visit the Library tab, our newsletters are archived there and read the March/April 2019 newsletter, pay special attention to the third bullet in Kay’s Corner regarding documenting your successes/value.  Keep in mind, your salary “ask” is NOT a conversation about your needs!  Maybe you have a compassionate boss who really cares about your needs, but most raises are calculated on what you bring to the plate.  Coming to the conversation with your needs only makes you look needy, not valuable.

Taking a Contrarian Stance for Workplace Impact

It’s rather comical that I am writing this article, as I grew up as the poster child for rule following.  My memory goes back to the sixth grade when a group of us walked to a classmate’s house for lunch.  Back in the day, we could walk home for lunch but it was forbidden to go to a classmate’s house without written permission from a parent.  When the group got caught I did not get any punishment because the principal didn’t believe little Kay Jones could have possibly done anything wrong.  I can remember being devastated because I wasn’t getting detention along with the rest of the “outlaws”!  It has taken me a lifetime to be gutsy enough to be different, to be a contrarian, to take a different stance on anything.  A few years ago a colleague told me “I figure I am not being innovative if I have not irritated someone every day!”

The first time this paid off in my business was in an article I wrote for the Cincinnati Business Courier on September 13, 2002.  It focused on women forgetting the glass ceiling and instead looking at one’s own internal ceiling. Though later in the article I acknowledged that the glass ceiling was alive and well, that contrarian stance grabbed the attention of the Courier. 

Am I advocating being a pain in the backside just for kicks? Certainly not. What I am advocating is to look at your values and your innovative spirit to use them as a springboard for taking a stance in the workplace that may be contrary to what others are thinking.  This could likely buy you some positive attention in the workplace.  Think about people who have been different or contrarian in your lifetime.  The first that pops up for me is Ralph Nader, political activist noted for his involvement in consumer protection, environmentalism and government reform.  Fast forward from 1965 when Nader first came to prominence to 2019 when climate change activist Greta Thunberg came into wide recognition.  You don’t need to be splashed all over the nightly news to be effective. 

Perhaps you have an idea that is different from others in your workplace and you strongly believe in it and contend that it could be valuable.  Taking that stance might be a bit scary for you or uncomfortable.  You do not have to stand alone.  I currently have a client who is new to her job but has a long history of expertise in her industry.  She knows they need to be doing some things radically different.  Being the new kid on the block, she is unsure if her viewpoint will be accepted.  In our coaching, we discussed using industry standards and revered industry gurus as credibility backups.  For you, it might be a Standard Operating Procedure from another company or industry, a legal precedent, or industry best practices.  You can see that you do not have to stand totally alone.  Your thought or idea doesn’t have to be 100% never tried; it just may be outside of what has been done at your place of work.

Where to start if your innovative juices have gone dry?  Your values will likely hold the key.  There is a step by step guide to getting started in Kay’s Corner this month.  If you already have an idea but are a little queasy about floating it or you just need some guidance on this career step, please call me a 513-561-4288 or email me Kay@highheeledsuccess.com and we can discuss coaching options.