I meet a lot of women as I’m out and about and I notice a disturbing behaviour that I rarely, if ever, notice amongst men. It crops up A LOT in the conversations I have with my clients and it’s often an indicator of what lies at the heart of the problem that my clients want to solve.
This behaviour is, on the surface, a very small thing and it seems to be unconscious – it certainly seems to cause surprise when I point it out. And yet, when we start to dig a little under the surface, a whole torrent of “stuff” is unleashed for us to work on.
And what is this behaviour?
It’s one little word.
The word “just”.
As in “Oh, I’m just a ……”
So many of us women are adept at negating who we are and what we do with that one little word, and so many of us are completely unconscious of the fact that we do it.
Why does it matter, you might be asking?
Well it matters because when we minimise ourselves and what we offer to the world, we minimise our very existence. We give others permission to undervalue us because we’re showing them that we don’t value ourselves.
In business, I’m losing count of the number of women I’ve worked with who start off wanting to talk about the difficulties they have in marketing their business, who turn out when we start to work out why, to believe that actually what they do isn’t a “real job”.
“Well”, they’ll say, “I do x and I really really love it and it gives me great personal satisfaction but it’s just x, isn’t it, it’s not real work, no-one’s going to want to pay me properly for that, are they?”
Well no, they’re not, if you keep telling them it’s nothing important!
We seem to have this idea hard-wired into our heads that it’s only a “real job” if you have to wear a suit and drive a flashy car. So there’s a whole legion of women out there that have given up that lifestyle in favour of doing something they love, that nurtures them and their customers, that spreads love and joy and fulfillment – and who feel that they have to apologise for doing so.
(Oh, I think I’m moving into rant mode. Stand back!!)
It’s an idea that is so prevalent in society – we undervalue and underpay exactly the people we need the most
We undervalue the people who look after our children and our elderly, the people who repair us when we’re damaged and encourage us to stretch and reach our potential when we’re well.
We undervalue the artisans that provide us with beautiful food made with love and the people who nurture the world around us.
We undervalue the free, expressive, creative spirits that make our souls soar with the art and music they create.
And we make people who choose to spend their lives doing those things feel as if they somehow don’t deserve recognition. As if they’ve been selfish enough already, by following their passion, and therefore have no right to expect to make a living out of it.
And although we’re furious with the banking industry and big business and many of us drudge through our lives as part of a soul-destroying corporate culture, we still are programmed to believe that that’s how life is and how it has to be, and that choosing another path isn’t for the likes of us and doesn’t deserve to be rewarded.
Well look – if you’ve chosen a different path for yourself then accept it wholeheartedly. Ladies, look around you. There are many men on the same path and I’ve yet to hear any one of them describe himself as “Just doing a bit of Reiki and stuff” or “Just a coach” or “Just someone who makes bread” or “Just doing mortgages and insurance and boring stuff like that”.
Take a leaf out of the boys’ book ladies and be proud of yourself and what you do.
After all, when did you last hear Her Maj say “Oh, well, I’m just the Queen, I don’t have any real power you know!”
Rant over 🙂
PS: EXCEPT!!! If you’re longing to get out of the rat race and build a new life around your passion and your purpose, then DO IT!!! It’ll be the best present you could ever give yourself.